Dr. Solomon Guramatunhu Zimbabwe Ophthalmic Surgeon

Dr Guramatunhu is Chairman and founder of Eyes For Africa – a charitable foundation which conducts up to 5, 000 free eye operations for disadvantaged peoples each year. He is the Chairman of Bindura University of Science Education, Chairman of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Chairman and founder of Newpark Eye Centre and Optimum Africa. Dr Guramtunhu obtained his undergraduate medical degrees from the University of Zimbabwe and postgraduate qualifications in ophthalmology from the Royal College of Surgeons of England and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.

“Waterford etched into my constitution the fact that I am a full and equal member of the human race, expected to make my contribution to the betterment of society.”

“Waterford changed my life story in ways I had never imagined or dreamt about,” says Solomon Guramatunhu.

As a black child from the Rhodesian village of Inyazura (now Nyazura, Zimbabwe), Solomon would not have been able to access a first-class private school education in his own country.
He heard about Waterford and its founder Michael Stern from one of WK’s pioneer students, Professor Alan McGregor (WK 1963-1967). Mr Stern and Alan managed to secure a place and a scholarship for Solomon.
Solomon remembers being amazed when he arrived at the school in 1973: “Multiracial, multicultural, the general ambience was almost utopian.”
He was also struck by the beauty of Waterford’s setting and says he has vivid memories of taking walks and meditating on the mountains behind theschool.
He also remembers the compassion which his peers showed him when his mother died in October that year. “The comfort and personal care I got from other students – in particular Hemant Nowbath –  is unforgettable.”
Solomon says that WK taught him that all human beings are the same and that race, culture, religion and class need not be a barrier to achievement.
“Waterford etched into my constitution the fact that I am a full and equal member of the human race, expected to make my contribution to the betterment of society,” he says.
Waterford gave him the solid foundation on which he built his career, but it also inspired his involvement in projects that benefit underprivileged communities and society at large.
After Waterford, he studied medicine at the University of Zimbabwe. He then specialized in ophthalmology in Scotland, obtaining qualifications with England’s Royal College of Surgeons, as well as the Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh.
He worked as the Chief Government Ophthalmologist for the Republic of Zimbabwe and feels privileged to have had the opportunity to establish the post-graduate training programme in ophthalmology at the University of Zimbabwe.
When other medical specialists fled the recent economic and political crises in the country, Solomon stayed and built a state-of-the-art eye clinic. He also founded Eyes for Africa, which offers free cataract surgeries to rural people in Zimbabwe and surrounding countries.
Solomon is a firm believer in the power of education and contributes to a number of educational initiatives in his country. He serves as the Chairman of Bindura University of Science Education and is the Patron of ZIMCARE TRUST, which raises funds for schools for the blind and deaf.
He is also the patron of the Zimbabwe Rural Schools Library Trust, which tries to get Zimbabweans to go back to their primary schools and fund the construction of libraries and computer centers. Leading by example, Solomon is involved in funding the first library and computer center at the primary school in Nyazura village where he learnt his ABCs.
Solomon appreciates the arts and is the current Chairman of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe. He is passionate about Shona sculpture and collects works by the first generation of sculptors. In the little free time he has, he also enjoys scuba diving and Latin and ballroom dancing.

Passion for art

Being a renowned eye specialist can be enough to wean one from their culture and traditions.

By WELLINGTON ZIMBOWA

Famed for his charity medical outreach programmes through the Eyes for Africa project, little is known about Solomon Guramatunhu’s passion for the art world.

Sculptures, portraits, carvings, paintings, music and books are the man’s treasured possessions.

And the glaring cosmopolitan aura is certain as his artwork is a rich blend of various cultures with collections not only from the mother continent but other foreign places such as Australia, Shanghai, Bali, Vietnam, South America, as well as the Carribean.

But the obvious bias to Zimbabwean tradition cannot be missed. His garden, immaculately decorated with sculptures, boldly explores traditional aspects such as spirituality and ubuntu.

“I believe that if others appreciate and invest in our art better than us, we run the risk of being educated but not enlightened,” he says.

“Most of my artwork collection is from first generation sculptors like Nicholas Mukomberanwa, Henry Munyaradzi, Bernard Matemera and the Takawira brothers. It’s unfortunate that most of them are now late with the exception of Sylvester Mubayi whom I visited in Chitungwiza and the youngest of the Takawira brothers,” he said.

At the entrance is Nicholas Mukomberanwa’s Lovers on a huge rough stone and according to Guramatunhu, “the couple have just been to the top of the mountain. Now they are in a very intimate embrace”.

Then, there is Dominic Benhura’s Dancer, who is in a dancing-like stance with both arms stretched out in opposite directions who is there to welcome his visitors, as well as wave them goodbye.
Benard Matemera’s Spiritual Lady which Guramatunhu found in Guruve while lying in rubble, is a huge “female” sculpture that looks lost in meditation.

“She is very spiritual, I pass through every morning and thank her for looking over me during the night!” explained the eye specialist.

But it is Benhura’s larger than life handiworks — convincingly electrifying the whole garden — that dominate his collections in the vast picturesque garden, with the Feeling Good Lady “sure to make anyone who gets close to her feel good.”

Another impressive icon is the Mother and Child facing the entrance “as if to ward off the evil forces.”

The gallery inside the house also contains many paintings from local and foreign artists.

The former Alliance Francaise president, who besides English and Shona also speaks French, Portuguese and Ndebele — a helping factor in conversing with his varied assortment of patients is the National Art Gallery’s chairperson.

He is determined to give his all in promoting and appreciating art by Zimbabweans.

“I am very fortunate to work with amazing people like Doreen Sibanda, director of the National Gallery, Raphael Chikukwa, the curator, and all staff as well as a dynamic team of board members for Friends of the Gallery and architect, Richard Beattie,” said Guramatunhu.

Following a donation from the Norwegian embassy, challenges such as the perennial leakages will soon end as the gallery is on the verge of completing some major facelifts.

The eye specialist, who was the founding chairperson of a post- graduate medical course at the University of Zimbabwe, is also passionate in reaching out to the corporate world, schools and colleges.

“We recently held a corporate dinner in a bid to unlock financial support for art development and support to artistes and we are also having numerous outreach programmes for school- children,” he said.

How does he cool off given his obvious tight schedule?
“I dance ballroom and latino for an hour everyday and I also have a special interest in dressage horse riding,” he said.

British Ambassador Catriona Laing and Chair of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Dr Solomon Guramatunhu captured at the recent Masked Ball Launch, NGZ, Af de Harare

Mbira

Solomon is an ophthalmic surgeon and is the owner and Medical Director of Greenwood Park Eye Centre in Harare. He is an avid art collector, a philanthropist and a patron of the arts. He is currently Chairman of several boards including Bindura University of Science Education, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, the Bio Medical Research and Training Institute and the Eyes for Africa Project.

Through the Guramatunhu Family Trust, Solomon has made significant social responsibility contributions to education. The Trust gives academic scholarships to deserving students, builds rural schools and libraries and stocks them with books.

Philanthropic endeavors include active involvement in several charities, particularly those devoted to eye care and education. He is a Rotarian and the Founder and Past President of the Ophthalmological Society of Zimbabwe.

Dr. Guramatunhu is a member of many international professional societies including the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the International Cataract & Refractive Surgery Society and the Ophthalmic Society of Southern Africa. He is also the recipient of many awards including an International Education Award from the American Academy of Ophthalmology, a National Contributor Award from the Zimbabwe Institute of Management, Paul Harris Fellowship from the Rotary International for his contributions to Eye Care in Zimbabwe and a Research Council of Zimbabwe Merit award for his contributions to ophthalmology.

Solomon loves tennis, golf, swimming, scuba diving, Latino dancing and collecting art. He is married to leading Namibian Ophthalmologist Dr. Helena Ndume.

Check Also

Zimbabwe: Eyestone Residents Get Clean Water

By Precious Manomano Residents of Eyestone Farm in Waterfalls now have water following the drilling …

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This function has been disabled for Zimbabwe Today.