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Service will be live streamed on S.L. McLaughlin Funeral Home Facebook Page starting at 3pm.
In lieu of Flowers please consider donating to our Dr. Japhet M. Zwana Scholarship Fund to a deserving student at National University of Science and Technology, Zimbabwe.
Dr. Zwana’s belief in the power of Higher Education and his genuine compassion for students who faced financial barriers led him to create the Non-Profit Zimbabwe Student Recruitment Program (ZSRP). Because this program has ended, in lieu of flowers, our Family and Friends invite you to donate to The Dr. Japhet M. Zwana Scholarship (https://www.gofundme.com/f/dr-japhet-m-zwana-scholarship-fund-2021).
DR. ZWANA’S LEGACY
Dr. Japhet Mdubeki Zwana touched the lives of countless people who were blessed to know him. Aside from his close and extended family and friends, he taught and mentored hundreds of students from classrooms to penitentiaries on the extent and importance of Africa and was particularly proud to have helped dozens of deserving Zimbabwean students to study at the University of Edinboro in Pennsylvania, and at the University of Zimbabwe. Dr. Zwana’s belief in the power of Higher Education and his genuine compassion for students who faced financial barriers led him to create the Non-Profit Zimbabwe Student Recruitment Program (ZSRP). Because this program has ended, in lieu of flowers, our Family and Friends invite you to donate to The Dr. Japhet M. Zwana Scholarship (https://www.gofundme.com/f/dr-japhet-m-zwana-scholarship-fund-2021)
Dr. Zwana's early life in Zimbabwe
Japhet was born Thursday, January 27, 1944, the son of Rev. Solomon Sotshangani Zwana and Mrs. Maria Thebe Zwana. He was the fourth of six children, including older brothers Christopher and Dr. Sipho Zwana, older sister Lucy Zimuto and younger brothers David and Sibusiso Zwana.
Japhet did his primary and secondary education at Tekwane Secondary School in Plumtree, Rhodesia (current day Zimbabwe). After completing his Secondary Education, he went to Waddilove Training Institute where he completed his Primary Higher Teacher Training. Upon completion he went to Chemhanza School, Marondera, in Mashonaland for one year, then moved back to Plumtree in Matebeleland and taught at Ndolwane School in the Nata Reserve for two years. He then transferred to Matshinge School near Tekwane Mission for another year. This is where he became interested in preaching. He left Matshinge and moved to Bulawayo Makokoba Methodist Church, where his father was a Minister/Pastor. This is where he was trained as a Preacher, at the same time teaching in Bulawayo. He did not stay long there because he was already thinking of becoming a Minister. His family encouraged him to do that.
His father gave him the options of continuing his education in Law School or at Theology School. He chose Theology. He went to Epworth Theological College to train as a Minister. He did very well but Japhet was someone who wanted to go further in his education. However, it was only a short time before graduation when a life changing racist incident between him and his white roommate and family altered his life course. He became disenchanted with the organized church during this time but soon, another door opened.
Epworth is very near the City of Harare. There he heard about an American Ambassador who was recruiting African students to go to America for further education. He made some inquiries about the program, got in touch with the gentleman, and joined the group. After taking the acceptance tests and passing, he resigned from his Ministry course as he’d received a scholarship to come to America. This made the entire family happy and their blessing comforted him as he began this new journey.
In the US he attended Syracuse University where he earned his Bachelor's degree and met the love of his life, Vanessa Grace Germany (Mrs. Thandi Vanessa Zwana) whom he married on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, 1970. They were blessed with three wonderful children, Fisiwe, Vusumuzi and Musa and spent fifty-one glorious years of marriage. Together Mr. & Mrs. Zwana continued their studies at SUNY Buffalo State College and The University at Buffalo, where he earned his PhD in Education Administration.
Upon graduation they decided to lay down their roots in Rensselaer. There, Dr. Zwana taught in the African & African-American Studies Program at the NYS University at Albany. He later went on to work at other Institutions of Higher Education including the State University of New York at Westbury and as the Director for Syracuse University Students Abroad Program in Harare, Zimbabwe. Upon return to the United States, he served at the University of Edinboro in Pennsylvania where he recruited dozens of Zimbabwean students before retiring in 2002.
Upon retirement, he remained passionate about his mission to assist the youth of his homeland to obtain higher education. Along with the help of life-long friends and colleagues, Dr. Ernest Simela and Ms. Joyce Mabena, they established a Non-Profit, the Zimbabwe Student Recruitment Program (ZSRP) where they raised Scholarship funds to donate to students in Zimbabwe experiencing financial barriers to attending Universities.
In his last years he and his wife moved from Jamaica, Queens, New York to Atlanta, Georgia where they lived with their daughter, Fisiwe and her husband James Terry Freeman.
Dr. Zwana passed peacefully at home on Saturday, March 6, 2021, surrounded by his family. He is survived by his wife, Mrs. Thandi Vanessa Zwana; daughter Fisiwe Zwana Freeman and son-in-law James Terry Freeman; son Vusumuzi Sotshangani Zwana and fiancé Lisa Valentine; son Musa Zwana; grandchildren Curtiss Cook, Jr., daughter-in-love Tedecia Wint; Granddaughters Isis and Kimani Cook, Nia Zwana and Amina Zwana, their mother Nicole Gopie; great grandchildren Ivory Cook and Mutumba Wint-Cook; his sister Lucy Zimuto and Brother-in-law Herbert Zimuto; his brother Sibusiso Zwana and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and extended family around the world.
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