|Friday, 14 September 2012 00:00|
At midday on Saturday September 8, 2012, two helicopters landed at a football pitch outside an old Roman Catholic Church at Chinyuni, Mujawo Village, in Chirumanzi. It was quite a spectacle, raising wafts of dust, shaking trees and their branches, troubling clothes and the people that wore them, casting and raising a cloud of brown dust all over the place.
Villagers will be forgiven to have abandoned everything to dash and watch the rare spectacle. Others almost dashed out of the church where the service was being held, all to see the spectacle.
On the other hand, all sorts of vehicles made a beeline to the village, much to the amusement of hundreds of villagers who thronged the church and Mujawo Village on foot and on bicycles.
The event was the burial of veteran conservationist and director general of National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, Vitalis Pascal Chadenga.
Because of his astounding life where he carved as larger than life character that helped all and sundry, from orphans to ordinary villagers and Cabinet ministers, the funeral turned out to be a celebration of the good things Chadenga had done in life spanning 56 years.
Everyone had a positive story to tell.
Those living and farming in the vast swathe of land on the Zambezi Valley might not know that it was Chadenga’s dedication that cleared the land they occupy today from the menace of tsetse flies that cause sleeping sickness in people and nagana in livestock.
Using small aircraft and all terrain vehicles, Chadenga made forays in numerous journeys in the Zambezi Valley and co-ordinated with his counterparts in Mozambique and Zambia.
Born on February 2, 1956 Chadenga died at the age of 56. The irony of his life seemed to be the figure 56.
Chadenga obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and a Diploma in Education from the University of Zimbabwe.
In April, 1982, he joined the Public Service under the Ministry of Agriculture as a glossinologist and rose through the ranks to become the Assistant Director responsible for Tsetse Control.
In 1995, he was appointed chairman of the African Executive Committee of the International Scientific Council for Trypanosomiasis Research and Control at a meeting held in Gambia.
In 1998, he then moved to the then Department of National Parks and Wildlife Management as Deputy Director-Research.
On May 1 2004, Chadenga appointed Director Operations/Conservation in the newly created Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority.
On May 1, 2010 Chadenga was appointed director- general of the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, a position he held until the time of his untimely death on September 5 2012.
Chadenga served in various capacities in wildlife and natural resources management.
He was a key player and part of the leadership which saw the authority being transformed from a Government department to an authority.
Chadenga worked with several partners, organisations and NGOs who made significant contributions to meet the ever-increasing costs of wildlife conservation.
He initiated several projects that are wildlife-based and he sourced donations from wildlife stakeholders, which included vehicles and other related equipment.
Mr George Pangeti, who chairs the parks board remembers how Chadenga sourced donations for equipment for anti-poaching, game water supplies, infrastructural development just to mention a few in order to enhance the protection of wildlife resources in the country.
“He was excellent and very resourceful. He had the Parks Authority at heart and further built capacity of field staff through intensive Ranger Training Programmes at the Mushandike Wildlife College,’’ says Mr Pangeti.
Chadenga also served on the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority Board, making significant contributions in the tourism sector.
Despite coming from Midlands province, Chadenga helped form the Mother of Peace Community, an orphanage in Mutoko, where he became longtime service board chairman.
When the story of his life is told and retold, Vitalis Chadenga will be remembered as the smiling merchant, who worked tirelessly to serve the nation.
May his soul rest in Eternal peace.