1960-61 Founder Member and National Executive Member, NDP.
1963 Representative of ZAPU in Northern Rhodesia (Zambia).
1963 Public Relations Secretary, PCC.
1974 Member Central Committee, ANC.
1975 (Sept.) Publicity Secretary, ANC (Nkomo).
Willie Musarurwa was born on 24 November 1927 in the Zvimba Reserve. Sinoia (Chinhoyi) District. He was the fifth child in a family of six (five boys and one girl). His father was Jack Goto Musarurwa and his mother Ruth Tambe. One of his great—uncles was executed for his part in the 1896 revolt; a second was sentenced to death but escaped from prison.
As a child of 10 Willie Musarurwa worked at a tobacco warehouse at Darwendale (for 2s. 6d. per month) and on a farm (for 5s. per month). Largely through the determination of his mother whom he describes as a “martinet”, and his brother, Mark Tavengwa, he received a full primary and secondary education. The schools he attended were Nyamangara School (1939-40), Marshall Hartley Boarding School (1941-42), Howard Institute, Glendale, (1943-44) and Goromonzi High School, where he was a ‘pioneer’ student from 1946 to 1949 and passed his Cambridge School Certificate. In 1952 he received his Higher Teacher’s Certificate at St Augustine’s, Penhalonga.
Although he was a teacher from 1952 to 1957 he was already looking ahead to a career in journalism and he obtained a Diploma in journalism in 1953 from Trans-Africa College. He became Editor of African Weekly in 1958 and of The Bantu Mirror in 1959. In 1960 and 1961 he was Editor of African Parade and African Daily News. In 1961 he was awarded a Parvin Fellowship1 for mature students and he studied at Princeton University, New Jersey2 as well as traveling in Europe and West Africa.
He joined the ANCongress on its re—formation in 1957 but did not at once play a prominent role. However, with the detention in February 1959 of George Nyandoro, James Chikerema and others, he felt the need to do something to fill the political vacuum that had been created and it was, indeed, largely through his efforts that a team of promising newcomers including George Silundika, Moton Malianga and William Mukarati was recruited for the nationalist cause.
In the latter part of 1959, working together with George Silundika and Sketchley Samkange, he drafted a constitution for a new party. This draft was revised after alternative proposals had been prepared by Nyandoro and others in detention, and Edson Zvobgo, Christopher Mushonga and Willie Musarurwa became responsible for the finally-accepted constitution of the NDP which came into existence on 1st January 1960.
As a supporter of Joshua Nkomo he moved into ZAPU after the banning of the NDP in December 1961. In March 1962 he acted as aide to Joshua Nkomo during the latter’s visit to the United Nations. In October 1962 he was restricted to his house for three months.
In early 1963 Musarurwa was appointed as ZAPU’s first representative in Northern Rhodesia (Zambia). In August 1963 he was appointed Secretary for Public Relations in the newly—formed PCC. On 27 February
1964 he was restricted to Wha Wha for a period of three months. He was again detained on 9 June 1964 and sent to Gonakudzingwa. Musarurwa was a delegate to the talks with the British Commonwealth Secretary, Arthur Bottomley, held at Triangle on 25 February 1965, as well as to the round of discussions with the British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, between 27 and 30 October 1965.
In November 1965 he was committed to Gwelo (Gweru) Prison where he remained until 1972. He was then transferred to Gonakudzingwa, from where he was moved in May 1974 to Salisbury (Harare) Prison. He was released from detention on 12 December 1974.
During his time in detention he obtained (1968) the Diploma in Public Relations from the London Institute of Public Relations. He also studied for an external degree with the University of South Africa and graduated B.A. in 1970, majoring in political science and sociology. In the period prior to UDI he regularly wrote for the Central African Examiner under the title ‘Views from Gona’.
After his release from detention Musarurwa traveled to Lusaka where he joined in the discussions leading to the agreement to merge all the nationalist parties under the common banner of the ANC. He was appointed a member of the Central Committee of the Council in December 1974 and in addition, took on the post of Secretary of the Internal Affairs Committee of the Council. In August 1975 he took part in the Victoria Falls talks with the Prime Minister, Ian Smith, as one of the ANC’s team of consultants. On his return to Salisbury (Harare) he strongly supported Joshua Nkomo’s call for a congress, and attended the emergency meeting of the Executive Council in Salisbury (Harare) on 7 September.
At the congress on 27-28 September he was elected Publicity Secretary. During October and November he attended the series of discussions between Ian Smith and Joshua Nkomo; On 10 December it was announced that he had been appointed a member of the ANC delegation to the constitutional conference in Salisbury (Harare).
Throughout the whole of 1976 Willie Musarurwa was busy, not only with his work on constitutional matters, but also as editor of the Zimbabwe Star3 and as the party official responsible for relations with the press. Despite this heavy program, however, he has found time to undertake several missions outside the country, the most important being to represent the ANC (Nkomo) at the Foreign Ministers’ conference in Mauritius in July. On his return he told the press that the OAU leaders now realised ‘the true situation in Rhodesia and who represents the people’.4
On 13 October it was announced that Willie Musarurwa would attend the Geneva Conference as a delegate from the ANC (Nkomo).
Willie Musarurwa married Esnath Shingayi Pfupajena, a Sister at Harare Hospital, on 27 December 1958. They have one son, Mukayi, who was born in 1959 and who reached Form IV at Tegwani in 1975. He is now studying in Birmingham.
He is an enthusiastic reader of the novels of Conan Doyle, Rider Haggard and J. B. Priestley. Some of the main influences on his development while a student were G. M. Miller (Principal of Goromonzi School), Major Thomas Lewis-Howard, A. P. Knottenbelt and C.D. Mhlanga. He was Vice-Chairman of the Salisbury (Harare) African Social and Cultural Club in 1959. He has given great assistance to the co-authors of this work.
1 See footnote to entry on Ariston Chambati.
2 There he obtained a Diploma in International Relations in 1962.
3 The Journal of the ANC (Nkomo).
4 The Rhodesia Herald, 19 July 1976.