Roman Catholic Church: Kutama Mission

Roman Catholic Church

Kutama Mission

Jesuit Jean-Baptiste (John) Loubiere, with his assistant Joseph Dambaza, are credited with the founding of Kutama Mission, located near Norton, approximately 80 km southwest of Salisbury (Harare). Father Loubiere named it Kutama after his first convert the chief.

The mission began as an outstation of Chishawasha Mission. Cassiano Ushewokunze, who was trained at Chishawasha, was posted as the first teacher-catechist at Kutama in 1913. Fr Loubiere became the first resident priest in September 1914 (the date generally given as the mission’s founding date) and through his efforts, Kutama became a fully-fledged mission independent of Chishawasha.

Fr. Loubiere’s initial focus was on evangelism, but realizing that educational development was needed as well, he began primary education. By 1926, the Jesuits had established a two-year Teacher Training course for primary school teachers, which would become St. Francis Xavier (Kutama) College. After the death of Fr. Loubiere in 1930, Father Jerome O’Hea arrived in 1931 to become the school’s headmaster.

Fr. O’Hea established a hospital on the mission site using his family’s resources after a request for government funding was turned down. The hospital was later named Fr O’Hea Memorial Mission Hospital (Kutama Hospital) in his honor.

The Jesuit were challenged to both perform pastoral work and run the school, so in 1939 Bishop A. Chichester S.J invited the Marist Brothers to come to Kutama and assume responsibility for education. Under their leadership, Kutama was one of the first missions in Southern Rhodesia to offer secondary (high school) education to Africans.

President Mugabe was born in the village of Kutama and educated at Kutama College.

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Contributors
  • Mark Loomis