By Andile Tshuma
The headmaster of Magwegwe High School in Bulawayo is under fire after allegedly banning the singing of Shona songs at his school. Mr William Ncube is alleged to have banned pupils from singing Shona songs or war cries during sports events or at assembly.
Bulawayo Acting Provincial Education Director Mrs Olicah Khaira said the Ministry of Primary and secondary Education was investigating the matter.
“I cannot comment much on the matter as I am not in the office. However, investigations into the issue are underway,” she said.
An open letter, purportedly written by pupils at the school, has gone viral on social media platforms.
The pupils are requesting Mr Ncube to desist from fanning tribalism and are demanding equal treatment at the school.
The Chronicle visited the school yesterday and spoke to members of staff. The headmaster was said to be away.
“On behalf of the Magwegwe High School students, we are against the decision by our headmaster to bar the singing of Shona songs at our school. As students we say no to tribalism and any form of violence. Whatever happened in the past must not include us as the so called born frees. We will not be used to settle past differences. We cannot be used in conflicts or fighting each other. We believe in unity and nothing else,” reads part of the letter.
The letter says the headmaster is quoted as having said he will be in trouble with the PED if pupils were allowed to sing Shona songs.
“What surprised us the most was the fact that he told the SDC chairman that if the PED gets the news that we were singing Shona songs, the school was going to be charged. (Khumalo, uPED engezwa kuthiwa kuhlatshelwa ingoma zale lapha kuyabuya incwadi engaka). Is it true that our PED has stopped the singing of Shona songs at all schools in Matabeleland?” asked the pupils.
A teacher who spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed that the Shona language ban had caused tension among members of staff.
“The headmaster knows his job but is a divisive leader. He is only against Shona members of staff and any Ndebele who sympathises with them or is not in support of tribalism.
“We have many Shona children at the school, we need to accommodate everyone but when we are told that a certain language cannot be used at the school because it is not within the region it becomes worrying,” she said.
Another member of staff who did not disclose his position at the school said he was now worried that the tribal issue was going to affect the reputation of the school and enrolment.
“This has brought a lot of tribal tensions and the school has been divided on tribal grounds. It’s an unhealthy learning environment because children are being groomed not to see beyond ethnic differences. We are not teaching tolerance and I’m feeling embarrassed to be a member of the school,” he said.
Some pupils who spoke to The Chronicle said senior pupils at the school were assisted by disgruntled teachers to pen the letter of complaint.
According to teachers at the school, Mr Ncube, prior to coming to Magwegwe, ran into trouble at Milton High School.
In October 2015, The Chronicle reported that Mr Ncube and his deputy Ms Nosizi Muleya were suspended after an audit conducted by the ministry allegedly exposed embezzlement of funds at the school. The Chronicle