AS the nation braces to bury national hero Eric Nyakudya Gwanzura at the Heroes Acre tomorrow, the man will forever be remembered for initiating the construction of Gwanzura Stadium in Highfield.Gwanzura collapsed and died at his home in Chegutu on Sunday, but has left a legacy for the sporting fraternity after fronting the construction of Zimbabwe's oldest Caf-approved football facility in the 1960s.
Highfield was the birthplace of the Zimbabwe nationalist movement during the colonial period and Gwanzura was one of the people involved.
According to Senate president Edna Madzongwe, Gwanzura, who was a builder by profession, wanted to provide recreational activities for the Africans and was given land by the municipality.
"When we were growing up in Highfield, there was really nowhere to engage in recreational or sporting activities. Unlike Mbare, which was known as Harari then, Highfield did not have a developed space for social activities.
"It took Cde Gwanzura and his younger brother Phanuel to provide for the community. They looked for land through the city council and wanted to build a stadium which we now know as Gwanzura.
"At first it was more like a family business and they really tried by all means to make it available for everyone at any time, which was one big positive contribution they made to the society," said Madzongwe.
Madzongwe said Gwanzura faced challenges from the colonial government until he lost the large piece of land but the ambition to have a stadium was later fulfilled.
"But there came a time when things got really hot and they lost the land to the municipality. The sad part about the whole thing was that they didn't benefit anything from the seizure of the facility.
"It's only the name that remained after the stadium became property of the city council," said Madzongwe.
Gwanzura was the first home of Dynamos Football Club, which was also formed in 1963, like the revolutionary party Zanu-PF.
The stadium was constructed in the 1960s while Rufaro opened its gates in the early 1970s.