Tichafa Samuel Parirenyatwa was a Medical Doctor, Second Liberation War fighter, Nationalist and vice president of the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU). He was the first black medical doctor in Rhodesia. The Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals is named after him. He was assassinated on August 14, 1962, while on his way to a party congress.

Tichafa Samuel Parirenyatwa
Tichfa Simon parirenyatwa.png
Born July 17, 1927
Makoni near Rusape,Manicaland
Died August 14, 1962 (aged 35)
Cause of death Assassination (beaten to death)
Monuments Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals
Residence Rhodesia
Nationality Zimbabwean
Citizenship Rhodesian
Education Medicine
Alma mater
  • Medical Doctor
  • Politician
Known for Being the First Black Medical Doctor in Rhodesia
Political party ZAPU
Movement Nationalist
Opponent(s) Rhodesian Front
Spouse(s) Emely Mkwananzi
Children 5, including David Parirenyatwa
Parent(s) Sophia and David Deme Parirenyatwa
Relatives Ruvheneko Parirenyatwa



Tichafa was born on 17 July 1927. He was third born in a family of eight to Sophie and David Deme Parirenyatwa. His father was a cook in the Rhodesia Governor’s residence but studied at night to become a Methodist lay preacher and educator. Tichafa's two elder siblings died in infancy leaving him the eldest child. Born in Rusape, Manicaland, he grew up in Murehwa where his family had relocated to Matututu, 15 kilometres from Murehwa Centre three years after his birth in 1930. Tichafa spent his childhood as a cattle herder.

He did his primary education at Murehwa Mission School and later attended Howard Institute. As a young man Tichafa left Rhodesia to attend lessons at South Africa’s Adams College.[1] When he came back to Southern Rhodesia he taught for one year before being assisted by the Methodist Church at Nyadire to join the famous Fort Hare University in South Africa. Later, now with a BSc degree in Biology, he was admitted to the University of Witwatersrand where qualified as a medical doctor in 1957.[2] He was father to Health Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa and grandfather to Ruvheneko Parirenyatwa a local radio personality.

Medical career

Tichafa did his ‘housemanship’ at Salisbury Central Hospital and Salisbury North Hospital (later renamed Andrew Flemming Hospital) under the tutelage of Professor Levy. Tichafa was deployed to Kezi in Matabeleland. In 1959 he was appointed medical officer-in-charge of Antelope Mine Hospital in Matabeleland a development many local white farmers were unhappy with. He resigned from government service in 1961 to go into politics full time. During his time in Matabeleland he contributed to medical journals including a celebrated article on the deficiency disease Pellagra.[1]

Political career

While in South Africa, Tichafa participated in defiance campaigns against various pieces of apartheid legislation under the auspices of the African National Congress Youth league (ANCYL). He was also instrumental in the elevation of Nobel Peace Prize winner Albert Luthuli to the post of party president of the ANC in 1952.[1]

In Rhodesia, Parirenyatwa was a member of the National Democratic Party (NDP). After the party was proscribed on December 8, 1961, ZAPU was founded on 17 December 1962 with Joshua Nkomo as its founding president and Tichafa Parirenyatwa elected the deputy president.[1] Parirenyatwa took charge of the party during Nkomo's various absences overseas, effectively building a country-wide organisation and also going on a drive to recruit educated people into politics. He was instrumental in the recruitment of Nathan Shamuyarira. He also established a research unit in the party.[2]


Parirenyatwa's Assassination place is marked with a signpost

On August 14, 1962, while on his way to a party congress in Bulawayo, about 15 km from Shangani, Tichafa was ambushed and beaten to death by a contingent of eight men as narrated by his driver Danger Sibanda, who survived the attack. His car was then driven to a rail level crossing at Heaney Junction and was pushed into an oncoming train to make it appear like an accident.[1] He was survived by 5 children.[2]

He was declared a national Hero in 1984 and his remains reburied at the National Heroes Acre.

The grave of Parirenyatwa at the National Heroes Acre in Harare


A Tichafa Samuel Parirenyatwa Stamp
Tichafa was a keen follower of boxing and soccer while a ballroom dancer of repute as well as a tennis player, a sport which he also coached.[1]

On 14 April 1962, When questioned at a launch meeting of the Rhodesian National Affairs Association how ZAPU intended to take control of the country, he said: “It would be done constitutionally, but not in Parliament.”

Before being renamed after him, Parirenyatwa Hospital was called Andrew Fleming Hospital.

Parirenyatwa's great grandfather (David Deme's grandfather) was Chief Chingaira a hero of the First Chimurenga

Parirenyatwa is mentioned in Thomas Mapfumo's Kuyaura song. "VaParerenyatwa varipi vatitungamirira" Mapfumo sings in Shona. The English translation of the line is: "Where is Parirenyatwa, so he can lead us".

A major road in the city of Bulawayo is named after Samuel Parirenyatwa


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Remembering DR Tichafa Samuel Parirenyatwa, The Patriot, Retrieved:20 Jan 2015, Published:26 June 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Dr. Tichafa Stephen Parirenyatwa, Colonial Relic, Retrieved:20 Jan 2014