TODAY marks three years since the death of one of the trailblazing pioneers of black economic empowerment. Edward Nyanyiwa better known to many as Eddies Pfugari.
He died on February 10, 2019, leaving behind a flourishing business empire estimated at US$30 million now being managed by Edward Jnr.
The eccentric and iconic self-made millionaire and property giant would have turned 85 Thursday, but for his demise in 2009.
“A true African fighter and man of rare vision, principle and deep compassion, he touched the lives of countless people through his unwavering support of black economic empowerment,” his eldest son Edward Nyanyiwa Jnr, recounts.
In commemoration of the late property tycoon death, we trace his humble beginnings and explore how a daring young man’s dream to travel to America stalled, resulting in him settling in South Africa before ultimately tracing his roots back to Zimbabwe and settling in Mbare instead of New York.
Born to Goromonzi-based peasant parents in 1936, Pfugari was only able to attend school up to Standard Two, the equivalent of Form Two in the modern education system.
Realising that he had no chance of progressing, he joined the great trek to South Africa at a very tender age, settling with only identified as Mangoro in the Sophiatown before it was razed to the ground by the Apartheid South African regime.
According to Edward Jnr, Pfugari’s ultimate dream was to go and settle down in America and had heard of ships departing from Cape Town to his intended destination.
So after spending some time with his uncle in Sophiatown, he, in 1952, set off for Cape Town but never arrived.
While on his way to the port city, he heard some people saying the captains wanted to be paid in the form of a diamond to allow you to board the ship.
Because he did not have any such, the dejected 16-year-old turned back, his journey ending at a place called Mamathwane.
He found himself settling at a small Northern Cape mining town called Delporthope where he started working at a diamond mining company thinking it would be easy for him to find the diamond with which to pay the captain of the ship which was to ferry him to America.
He trained and worked as a locomotive driver at the mine, staying there long enough to start considering a family. It was at this place where he married his first wife, Ntsietso Heasebia Pfafane.
Frustrated that he couldn’t pick any diamond there, he departed with his wife and settled at another diamond mine, Smith Mine, becoming a driver for mine’s trucks.
In 1954, the couple was blessed with a baby girl which he named Chipo. A boy, named Elisha, would follow two years but lived for only two weeks. Edward Jnr was born on 1958.
However, when Edward was just a few weeks old, Pfugari was convinced that he had had enough of South Africa and without any diamond to be found, he set out back home, leaving his wife and children behind.
In 1959, he went back to South Africa intending to fetch his family but could not locate them. He instead ended up bringing back to Rhodesia another woman, Toto with whom he had one child, a son called Terrance.
When he fell sick in 1961 and spent a of time indisposed, Toto abandoned him, returning to her home country and leaving Terrance in the care of his mother who lived at a farm in Selous.
Pfugari ended up seeking divine healing at the Guta Ramwari Church shrine in Zvimba. While recovering there, he met a girl called Mildred and they got married and their union was blessed with children: Stephene, Naomi, Henrietta and Itai.
He then moved to live with his mother at the farm in Selous and started a restaurant and butchery business in Harare, then Salisbury. The business quickly grew because of the tasty meals served there and this earned him the nickname Pfugari.
With proceeds from the business, he bought his first farm in Beatrice, which he later sold and used the money to purchase another farm in Norton.
His property business came as an accident really.
According to Edward Jnr, Pfugari’s actual intention was to become a fulltime farmer, but learnt that he had to pay a huge debt. This prompted him to subdivide and sell the stands in order to pay the debt.
He never looked back from then on.
He bought Whitecliff Farm near Harare, Raylands Farm in Gweru, Alpherton Farm in Mutare and Brockdale in Bindura, all of which are now being turned into urban residential areas.
He formed his first company, Eddies Pfugari Pvt Ltd, in the early 1980s, eventually establishing several others.
He also got involved in the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, a highly lucrative undertaking at the time and established himself as a successful businessman.
In 1997, Pfugari went back to South Africa to try and fetch his first wife after breaking up with Mildred but could not locate her. He had earlier sent Terrance on a similarly unsuccessful mission.
His first wife, Ntsietso, died in 2004 and in June 2005, he married another wife, Hazel having divorced Mildred. Mildred died later that year.
He lived with Hazel until his death in 2019.
While Pfugari may have been a highly successful and inspiring tycoon, his vast estate is now at the centre of a messy wrangle among his children punctuated by numerous court battles.