Max Tongai Chigwida was born on 13 August 1942 on a European farm near the Mhondoro Reserve (TTL) about 25 miles (40 km) from Salisbury (Harare). His father, Mateu, was a farm worker who started as a wagon and plough-oxen driver and later became an efficient tractor driver.
Max was sent first to Crowborough Farm School near Salisbury (Harare) and later to Gloag Ranch, a Presbyterian mission school. He received his secondary education at Goromonzi and then went to Howard University (Washington, DC) where he graduated B.A., majoring in philosophy in 1968. In the following year he went to Princeton Theological Seminary, New jersey, where he graduated Master of Divinity in 1972. He was ordained by the Presbytery of Mashonaland at the Harare Presbyterian Church on 28 January 1973.
It was in December 1971 that the ANC came into being and the efforts of Bishop Muzorewa to attract support for the organisation brought Chigwida reluctantly into politics. He says that he had never had any ambition to pursue politics as a profession or occupation. In 1973 he became a Branch Chairman and, in 1974, a District Vice-Secretary. In 1975 he was appointed an Executive Committee member and subsequently acted, in the absence of Dr Edson Sithole, as Publicity Secretary for the Muzorewa ANC.
He is very outspoken in his attitude towards detention. He himself has not been detained and says that he does not consider it a necessary qualification for political virtuosity. He believes that some veteran nationalists tend to regard time spent in detention as a sine qua non of nationalist competence.
He was included in the Muzorewa delegation to the Geneva Conference on 28 October 1976. It was announced on 29 March 1977 that he had been appointed Secretary-General of the ANC (Muzorewa) in succession to Dr Chavunduka.1
Max Chigwida is powerfully built, of medium height, bespectacled and bearded. He speaks slowly and thoughtfully. He is married to the former E. Judy Garbe, an American whom he met while a student in the USA. They have one son, Tongai Arthur, born in Rhodesia in August 1973.