It is with a deep sense of grief and pain that the Environmental Learning Research Centre at Rhodes University announce the recent passing of Kudakwashe Lovejoy Mudokwani, one of our talented Masters scholars. Kuda passed away tragically on Friday 1 February 2019 in a fatal car accident in Zimbabwe.
Kuda was a leading light in the Environmental Education Masters group of 2017/2018. His leadership qualities, kindness, enthusiasm for learning and change and his sense of solidarity stood out along with his intelligence and brilliance as a young scholar. As one of his classmates said “we have lost more than a brother”.
As programmes manager at Fambidzinai Permaculture Project in Zimbabwe, Kuda worked with many traditional leadership structures, colleagues and communities on climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction and organic food production. His passion was community development, but equally, he had a passion for learning and social justice. Driven by an ever-curious mind, Kuda joined Rhodes University after completing a first degree and a post-graduate diploma in development studies which he obtained with a firm row of distinctions.
Shortly before the fatal accident, Kuda was working with his two supervisors, Dr Mutizwa Mukute and Professor Heila Lotz-Sisitka to prepare an application to upgrade his Masters research to a PhD study. The study title of the extensive and generative piece of research that Kuda was completing was “Unlocking the transformative value of solidarity and interpersonal sustainability competences in strengthening organic farmer associations and sustainability transformations”. Shortly before he passed away he sent in one of his finalized chapters for the upgrade process.
In this chapter he says, “In my research I have sought to formatively co-generate solutions to internal and external challenges small holder farmer groups are facing, as well as to add knowledge to the growing discourse around transformative and transgressive social learning”. His view was that there was a need to conduct collaborative and co-engaged research around issues of solidarity, as a loss of solidarity impeded possibilities for sustainability and wider social justice.
Always an environmentalist, from a young boy, Kuda contributed practically, professionally, socially and academically to environmental and social justice movements. He describes his love for the environment, for social justice, critical research and social action. He explains how the co-engaged research he was undertaking helped to transform his view of the world, linking social justice, research and action in meaningful ways. He states in his chapter “In my personal capacity as a developmental worker, I have experienced and witnessed the value and importance of being respectful in the community of operation. As such in my quest to instigate formative research, I adopted the same stance … allowing for deep reflexivity”.
Kuda was an activist, not scared to voice his concerns about the world and its injustices and inadequacies. He was actively involved in struggles for freedom on many levels, in Zimbabwe and more widely in the world. Importantly his activism sought ways of resolving the many impasses, junctures and contradictions around him through solidarity and meaningful action.
Kuda was a strong team member in the International Science Council’s Transformations to Sustainability T-learning research project, hosted by the SARChI Chair in Global Change and Social Learning Systems at Rhodes University. The project he worked on was supported and led by Dr Mutizwa Mukute in Zimbabwe, who was also a mentor to Kuda. They both represented the Zimbabwe team’s research at the Future Earth Seedbeds Conference, and Kuda carried this work to the EEASA Conference in Zambia last year.
Kuda was poised to become not only a regional leader, but to contribute to Sustainability Sciences on the African continent. At the recent Future Earth Seedbeds Conference, Kuda stood out immediately. Here he easily and with grace, took up the challenge to represent Africa’s Early Career Researchers on this Africa-wide / global platform. He was clearly not forgotten in this role. Recently, the international Future Earth team in Paris encouraged him to apply for representation on the Africa Future Earth committee. He was in the process of preparing this application, but most sadly, was not able to complete it.
Kuda writes of his research “This research interconnects bits and pieces of unsatisfied thoughts, emotions, experiences that have arisen throughout my life in the context of the world today, and transcends them into a new understanding that has helped me to obtain a new world view.” He left us with these words (citing Judith Butler)
“We are called upon to imagine and pursue modes of human relationality that might constitute resistance to, as well as healing from, the coloniality of present conditions. This requires a recasting of our day-to-day relations and encounters with difference and what is at stake is really rethinking the Human as a site of interdependency”.
Kuda lived his life by expressing his passion and love for his family, his fellow humans, for ‘mother earth’ and for his God. He loved his family, wife Evelyn and two daughters, Shanice and Shekinah deeply, and always talked about them fondly. He also loved sports and music and visiting the beach could always bring a smile to his face.
Father, husband, son, leader, community worker, scholar, humanist, activist, environmentalist and justice seeker for all. Friend and colleague. Son of Africa.
Posted October 2018, Kuda wrote, “My Gracious God … My life is in your hands”.
Kuda was laid to rest at Glen Forest in Harare yesterday, 4 February 2019 after a service in the Methodist Church in Harare.
Rest In Peace, dear Kuda
Our condolences stretch out to his wife Evelyn, his daughters Shanice and Shekinah, his mother, father, family and friends, classmates and colleagues, and the many communities that he served.