Stephen Chifunyise
Born(1948-09-21)September 21, 1948
Nhema, Shurugwi
DiedAugust 5, 2019(2019-08-05) (aged 70)

Stephen Chifunyise was a playwright and educationist. He also co-founded Chipawo with the objective of to identifying and nurturing young talent in the arts industry. Chipawo produced some famous people inn the arts industry includig Danai Gurira, Chiwoniso Maraire, and Chipo Chung.

Chifunyise died on 5 August 2019.


Stephen Chifunyise was born on September 21, 1948 in Nhema, Shurugwi, in the Midlands province of the then Southern Rhodesia. He attended St Linus Matoranjera School in Chitomborwizi, Chinhoyi, for his Sub A up to Standard I.

He then moved to Shamweti Primary School, Mumbwa, Zambia in 1960 for his Standard II, transferring to Chisengalumbwe from 1961 to 1964 to pursue Standard III up to VI.

Between 1965 and 1969 he moved from Libala Secondary School to St Mark’s Secondary School to complete his high school education. The following year in 1970 he enrolled for his BA with education at the University of Zambia.

He went abroad to the USA where he successfully completed his Masters of Arts in Theatre Arts in 1977.


He returned to Zambia after his studies and took up the post of drama lecturer at UNZA until 1979 when the Zambian government appointed him Director of Zambia Cultural Services.

Stephen Chifunyise moved back to Zimbabwe after Independence and worked as Programme Producer at the Audio Visual Services in the Ministry of Education and Culture. He left in 1983 to join the University of Zimbabwe as drama lecturer. Only two months later, he left to rejoin the government as Chief Cultural Officer, rising to the positions of Director of Arts and Crafts, Under-Secretary for Arts and Crafts in the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture and finally Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Culture.

Stephen Chifunyise held various positions in the field of theatre, including:

  • Director of Chikwakwa Theatre of UNZA (1977-1979)
  • Secretary-General of International Theatre Institute, Zambia Centre (1977-1982)
  • Secretary of National Music Industry Advisory Committee to the government of Zambia (1980-1982), and
  • Vice-President of the Union of African Performing Artists from 1983.

Theories on Theatre

Chifunyise advocated for a non-racial culture in which “the themes of our national theatre should be non-racial”

Chifunyise had a disliking of high art which he argued accentuated racial divisions by creating theatre for an elite, mostly white, audience dealing in imported themes. He argued that this western theatre practice consolidated cultural imperialism.

Chifunyise lobbied for a theatre that was politically engaged and was preoccupied with social and national problems with a Marxist-Leninist ideological inclination, calling this theatre “revolutionary theatre”. He argued for “a philosophy that is rooted strongly in socialism- a philosophy which dictates that theatre should be a tool for political and ideological development”.[1]

Personal Life

Chifunyise was the father of Urban Grooves musician and entrepreneur, David Chifunyise. He married Phillipa Chidzurira in Jerera, Zaka, in 2016.


  1. Chifunyise philosophy on theatre, Facebook, published: 23 Feb 2016, Retrieved: 6 Aug 2019