A dream fulfilled: Bishop Laurie Haller and the Iowa group honoured for their love and passion for Africa University

Bishop Haller offers a prayer for the Ubuntu Retreat Center and Africa University during a dinner held in her honour


Story by
Jeanette Dadzie
IPAO Correspondent
14 - 19 October 2018
A group from the Iowa Conference visited the Africa University main campus from the 14th to the 19th of October 2018 led by Bishop Laurie Haller. The visit for the Iowa group was especially important as Bishop Haller led the campaign to raise funds for the building of the Ubuntu Retreat Centre (URC). Her dream was to create for Africa University a place where visitors would be able take in the resplendent surrounds and tranquillity of the Africa University campus and be inspired by the institutions’ powerful spirit and rich culture.

The Ubuntu Retreat Centre is a work of love and dedication of the Iowa Conference spearheaded by Bishop Haller and is a testament to the power of faith and an unshakable belief in the vision and mission of Africa University. Since opening its doors to guests in the last quarter of 2016, the URC has hosted groups and individual guests from Non-Governmental Organizations such as UNICEF, African Regional Intellectual Property Organization, World Intellectual Property Organization, Raoul Wallenberg Institute, General Commission on Race and Religion, corporations such as Econet Wireless, Steward Bank, CIMAS, Telone, United Methodist Groups including the Baltimore Washington Conference, African College of Bishops, East Ohio Conference, African Clergywomen, South Carolina Conference, Zimbabwean Government representatives from the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare and numerous other guests from around the world.

The Ubuntu Retreat Centre has grown in reputation and influence fast becoming a venue of choice in the Manicaland region offering hotel standard accommodation and service. Bishop Laurie Haller and the Iowa group were honoured at a dinner attended by the Africa University Board of Directors and senior management in thanks and acknowledgement of the support and incredible work that the Iowa Conference has given to the institution. Vice Chancellor Professor Furusa said,

“When I was first appointed Vice Chancellor of Africa University in 2014, the Ubuntu Retreat Centre was still under construction and it was the first major capital project that I took over in the role of Vice Chancellor. I recall speaking with Bishop Haller via Skype call to thank her personally for her incredible work and to assure her that this was a project that I would personally see through to completion and that it would be a true reflection of her vision. Ubuntu is the epitome of who we are, welcoming, open and engaged with the world around us. The guest list and the calibre of functions hosted at Ubuntu such as the Women in Mediation and Negotiation workshops show the impact and transformation that this humble building is leaving in Zimbabwe and across the continent.”

Mrs. Makadzange, the chairperson of the Infrastructure Committee of the Africa University Board of Directors recalled the challenge that was before her and her committee to furnish the building saying,

“It was an immense task with many expectations before us. We wanted to do justice to Ubuntu providing quality in each and every detail of the décor of the rooms. Each piece was lovingly and thoughtfully picked.”


Bishop Laurie Haller graciously received the thanks and honours bestowed upon the group and delivered an inspiring narrative of the journey to building Ubuntu.

“It just so happens that my maiden name is Hartzell, the same as the man who dreamt of Africa University. I too am a dreamer and I dreamt of how I and my conference could make a contribution to Africa University like no other and that was when the dream for Ubuntu was born. I remember attending a service at Fairfield Children’s home at Old Mutare many years ago after we had faced challenges in trying to build Ubuntu and the preacher who was just 11 years old gave a sermon that as fate would have it, spoke to the struggle we were facing. He preached about the walls of Jericho and how in life we are confronted with walls and obstacles that are only temporary. They are walls that we can climb, go around or go under and we should never be deterred. That gave us the impetus to boldly go forth on our journey, one that we are celebrating here today.”

The URC boasts 24 rooms, 5 are double occupancy with 19 being single occupancy. It has its own dining room for guests with two conference rooms for seminars and meetings. All rooms offer ensuite bathroom facilities with room service recently introduced in 2018.