March 16, 2018

Hosea Tokwe | Movers & Shakers 2015 — Change Agents

Hosea Tokwe


Chief Librarian Assistant, Special Collections, Midlands State University Library, Gweru, Zimbabwe

Higher National Diploma in Library and Information Science, Harare Polytechnic, Zimbabwe, 2002


Photo courtesy of Hosea Tokwe

Literacy Builder

Hosea Tokwe arrived at the Matenda School on July 6, 2007, carrying two boxes of books donated by a former student; he was determined to launch the poor rural school’s first library. It was a tumultuous time in Zimbabwe, however, and the community in Matenda greeted him with suspicion. They feared he was not actually a librarian at Midlands State University Library but an opposition political agent sent to stir up trouble.

Tokwe convinced them that setting up a library was his only goal, and for the next ten months he regularly made the difficult 100-kilometer trip from Gweru. “I had to walk 25 km from the main road and move in the bush by foot to deliver book donations,” he recalls.

He enlisted local stakeholders like the school development committee and Matenda’s chief and headmen. He hired local carpenters to build bookshelves. In April 2008, the Matenda school library opened, its collection bolstered by 18 boxes of books, most donated from abroad.

Since then, some 60 percent of boys now pass the annual school exams, and 40 percent of girls do. (Girls spend so much time at home fetching firewood and well water that they have limited study time, Tokwe says.) The Zimbabwean publisher Weaver Press continues to donate books to the school.

Tokwe has won multiple awards for this work. He’s also been a driving force behind the revival of the largely defunct Zimbabwe Library Association (ZIMLA), helping to organize ZIMLA’s first national conference in April 2010. Soon after he was elected treasurer of ZIMLA, a position he still holds.

“Mr. Tokwe…has made immense contributions to the profession, especially in the area of school library services,” says Harriet Ncube, national secretary general of ZIMLA. “He has inspired all of us.”

This article was published in Library Journal. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.



  1. Tonderayi Chanakira says:

    Well done Hosea Tokwe. This is first class community service by a dedicated Librarian

  2. Ratherfort Chiutani says:

    Inspirational indeed Mr Tokwe,only the sky is the limit……. collective effort is also required in driving the revival of the ”largely defunct” Zimbabwe Library Association (ZIMLA),

  3. Mr. Hosea Tokwe is the quintessence of what passion and dedication can do to reach out to underprivileged and marginalized communities. Zimbabwe rural communities abound with talent and an insatiable appetite for reading but there are no books to read besides prescribed academic textbooks which are not enough as well. It is not uncommon to find young and old people alike picking everything and anything from scraps of yester-year newspapers, decade old magazines and century old books just to find something to read. If only there could be a handful of librarians and individuals from other walks of life like Hosea, a lot could be done to avail resources for Zimbawean rural communities. Zimbabwe rural communities have a rich reading culture. As demonstrated by Hosea, sometimes is not so much about money but it is a matter of passion and dedication for a worthy cause.

  4. tafadzwa pedzisai says:

    I must say its a pity we dont have a tradition of honouring heroes while they were alive but my dear sir you have brought smiles not only to your collegues but to the community you have emancipated.

  5. Driden Kunaka says:

    Well done Hosea. You did a great job at Matenda, and I now want us to go back there and ensure that the work that was started there is sustained.