Jairos Jiri

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Jairos Jiri
Jairos Jiri
Born(1921-06-26)June 26, 1921
DiedNovember 12, 1982(1982-11-12) (aged 61)
EducationGokomere High School
  • Philanthropist.

Jairos Jiri was a renowned philanthropist who did a lot to help the physically challenged members of society and assisting them with facilities to better their lives. He also got a lot of international recognition for his philanthropic work.


Jairos was born on 26 June 1921 in Bikita. He grew up from a very humble background and had to generate his own income so that he could attend school at Gokomere Mission School.[1]

Early Life and Initial Philanthropic Work

After having failed to enrol for his education due to financial constraints, Jairos Jiri started selling vegetables and chickens so as to raise money and attend school. Having saved a considerable amount of money, he enrolled himself at Gokomere Mission School into sub A (Grade one). It is said that in just under two weeks of attending school, Jiri was promoted into Sub B (Grade two). In 1939 Jiri in the company of a brother moved to Bulawayo and subsequently joined the Rhodesian Africa Rifles as a dishwasher. This was also the time he was also said to have come across many destitutes, half dressed blind and disabled people begging for help in the streets. At one stage he is said to have carried a young boy on his bicycle to Old Memorial Hospital and persuaded authorities to do corrective surgery before pledging to pay for the surgery.[2]

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Establishment and Development of Rehabilitation Centres

Eventually, Jiri started taking blind beggars to his house and administered to them some of the rehabilitation skills he had acquired from the time he worked at the Rhodesia Africa Rifles. He got some help from people like Joshua Nkomo, Benjamin Burombo and Michael Mawema. The Bulawayo City Council also chipped in. October 1950, the first skills training workshop opened in Makokoba. Another training centre was commissioned in 1959 in Nguboyenja, this centre was as a result of the support from Bulawayo City Council which donated land and buildings funded by the State lotteries.[2] The USA consular general granted Jiri three months to tour rehabilitation centres in America and Europe. The then Salisbury City Council also granted Jiri and joined hands with the Salisbury Society for the Handicapped which had been formed by Jonah Matswetu, John Mdzima and Kate Chitumba among others.

Career Development of the Physically Challenged

The Jairos Jiri Choir was launched with the help of Jairos Jiri himself in 1959 Mzilikazi Township and by that time it was known as the Sunbeam Kwela Kings. The group was largely composed of inmates who played various instruments like guitars and drums. The group was at one point joined by Paul Matavire who recorded several hits with the group such as "take cover". Zexie Manatsa together with his brother Stanley were also guitarists of the group at one point.[3]

Facilities and Services Offered by the Jairos Jiri Association

  • Lobby and advocacy programme
  • Community based rehabilitation
  • Scholarship programme
  • Comprehensive mobility support programme
  • Education [4]

Life Achievements and International Recognition

  • Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth MBE (Member of the British Empire Award)
  • Audience with Pope Paul VI and presented with a medal
  • Honorary Master of Arts University of Rhodesia (University of Zimbabwe)
  • Lions International Service and Humanitarian Award
  • Rotary International Year of Disabled Person Award for Africa



  1. Jairos Jiri, a true philanthropist, NewsDay, Published: November 17, 2012, Retrieved: July 4, 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 Jairos Jiri The Man, Jairos Jiri Association, Retrieved: July 4, 2014
  3. Wonder Guchu, I've just been shaken - Paul Matavire a few days before his death, Intimacy With Zim Musicians, Published: February 21, 2012, Retrieved: July 4, 2014
  4. Our Work, Jairos Jiri Association, Retrieved: July 4, 2014

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