Mai Musodzi Chibhaga Ayema (1885-1952)

Mai Musodzi Chibhaga Ayema (1885-1952) – the ‘mother of Zimbabwean social services’ and a pioneer of women’s rights

She  was the mother and one of the founders of Zimbabwean social services although she did not have a social work qualification. Together with her siblings, they became orphans after Chimurenga 1 of 1896, a war to repel colonialists led by the British South Africa (BSA) Company, the same war that resulted in Mbuya Nehanda (her aunt), Sekuru Kaguvi and other leaders being hanged by the white colonialists. Mai founded Harare African Women’s Club in 1938. She served Native Advisory Board and the National Welfare Society’s African committee where she advocated for rights of black people. Mbare, Zimbabwe’s oldest suburb for Black people, has a Recreation Hall renamed Mai Musodzi Hall in her honour. In 2008, a book titled Elizabeth Musodzi and the Birth of African Feminism in Early Colonial Africa was published by historian Tsuneo Yoshikuni. Like Jairosi Jiri, she became a social reformer, do-gooder and philanthropist of good standing of her era. The famous street in Mbare, Ayema, was named after the Ayema family.