Featured Scholar, Fall 2009
Mr. Shumba has given SRF permission to use his name and all identifying information.
Eric Shumba is a scholar of religious studies from Zimbabwe where he has taught courses on New Testament studies and New Testament Greek at two prominent universities. His articles have been published on a wide range of social and religious issues include writings on the impact of Operation Murambatsvina (in English this phrase is translated into: “Drive out trash”. The campaign was conducted in 2005 to forcibly clear several Harare slums) on a local church, Adventist Christians perceptions of the 2008 general elections in Zimbabwe, the impact of HIV & AIDS on the Adventist Church in Zimbabwe, and the role of traditional leaders in Zimbabwe in fostering democracy and social justice.
While in Zimbabwe Mr. Shumba was an avid supporter of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), openly criticizing Robert Mugabe and the ruling ZANU-PF party. Since 2006, he has published several politically controversial pieces which were condemned by the Vice-Chancellor at his home institution and led to police interrogations and threats to his family. Undeterred, he continued to criticize the ZANU-PF party, and suffered the consequences of detention by state police. Following Zimbabwe’s June 2008, elections violence erupted between ZANU-PF youth militia, war veterans and MDC supporters in the scholar’s home district. In September 2008, Mr. Shumba was reliably informed from a colleague at Masvingo Teachers College that his name appeared on a list of people to be eliminated for opposing the government. Convinced to go into hiding in South Africa, he took up work as a migrant farm laborer and later learned that his home had been burned to the ground.
In March 2009, Mr. Shumba was awarded a Scholar Rescue Fund Fellowship and joined Chatham University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. On campus he is playing a major role in Chatham University’s “Global Focus Year of Africa.” He teaches modules in international studies about African geopolitics, domestic violence and the relationship between culture and HIV/AIDS prevalence. He has assisted in the organization of Chatham’s “Sounds of Africa” symposium, bringing together world-class African art and music scholars to the university.
The impact of his stay at Chatham has been profoundly positive as described by one of the scholar’s colleagues there, “what transpires from this rescued scholar is a solid intellectual formation that created in him an infectious propensity to freely engage students, co-workers, and neighbors in the community… to deeply understand aspects of Zimbabwean history, politics, and cultures in a manner that gives the impact of the interactions a long-lasting, universal appeal.”
To read the International Crisis Group report on Zimbabwe please click here