This moment of your life is a great and a unique one. There has never been a time like this one and there has never been a person like you. Welcome this moment for all it contains, seize and maximise it. Whatever you are going through cannot be compared to what you are going to and the potential you carry within you.
Fortunately, a great future does not require a great past. This is liberating because you do not need to be tied to your limited past. You have a history, but you are not history, unless you stop trying, dreaming and working. You can change, build, learn or grow. The future is larger that everything that you have known in the past. Look up and not down. Be excited about possibilities and do not extinguish your personal flame of passion. Think big, in order to do big things. Think possibilities in order to push forward, blaze new paths and make your life worth something.
Do not despair or give up because of the heavy clouds of negativity around you. Think no small thoughts because this is a big world and the limitations you accept become your reality. Do not be discouraged by the day of small things because everything has the potential to grow. Scale your ambitions and look up to the possibilities ahead. How you think determines what you do. You do not have the luxury to think like a mouse when you want to play with the big five. There is no problem that last forever so long as it is attacked by focused thought and persistent faith-filled action. Think possibilities and you will see an ever increasing light in your path. Think any other way, and you dim the light in your path.
When two people meet, there is a chemical reaction that takes place particularly if there is something that they share in common. Associate yourself then with people who inspire and you will be inspired. Dream with those who dream big, and your dreams with have colour and scale. You will dream bigger. Think with other thinkers and you will have fresh ideas and unprecedented mental intensity. Thought is too precious to waste.
For mathematicians, there always a chemical and mathematical reaction that takes place when they meet those who share their passion, understand their numbered world and see related mental models, and thoughts with form, movement and structure. Nothing in life can surpass the beauty, depth and utility of mathematics. When you connect with like thinkers, the forces of multiplication and synergy kick in. So it was that in the early 1980s two brilliant Zimbabwean Mathematicians met at the University of Zimbabwe. They became friends, they sparred mentally and their quick and deep minds fertilised greater ideas and inspiring thoughts and possibilities with Mathematics as the engine. They naturally became brothers for life. On February 18, 2011, one of them sadly passed on. His surviving friend, a professor of mathematics, Heneri Dzinotyiweyi, was the best qualified to write an obituary in honour of his colleague. He obliged and wrote a riveting ode to his friend in the NewsDay of March 9, 2011. The obituary some beautiful light on the life story of a great and talented mathematician Dr.Josephat Martin Havey. This inspired me to write this instalment.
Past is not equal to future
The name you are born with is not always the name you will die with. The past is not equal to the future. You can change your life’s equation. Dr. Martin Havey, as he was popularly known was born Funyana Mutyambizi on November 12, 1949. He has the eldest of three children born to a hardworking mother who strove to fend for her children and send them to school. It was difficult, the employment opportunities were limited and the racial and gender segregation of the time did not make things any easier. Martin had to mature quickly and learn to cook and look after his siblings. Wherever opportunity called, Martin Havey’s mother took her children along. His mother worked in South Africa, in Nyasaland (now Malawi) and Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).
Do not complain too quickly because what you go through is a gift that life gives you. Use what opportunities you get for there is blessing in every adversity. Think beyond your struggles and challenges, and fight the right battles. Be obsessed with where you are going and attack life with a crusader mentality. Faced with seeming chaos, a mathematical mind will apply chaos theory to see and model patterns that an undisciplined mind will miss. Be intentional and focused, work with clarity while other complain with alacrity. For Martin, he used his family’s frequent movements to learn languages that he may have never mastered. He became fluent in Shona, Zulu, Ndebele, Chewa, English and French. Whenever you have an opportunity to learn a language, seize it. Whenever there is something you can learn, seize that opportunity. You can never be made smaller by learning something new.
From 1956 to 1962, Martin Havey did his primary school education in Mbare and at Empandeni Mission in Zimbabwe, before proceeding to Henderson Institute in Malawi. He then did his secondary school education in Malawi at Blantyre Secondary School from 1963 to 1964 and moved back to Saint Ignatius College, in Zimbabwe from 1965 to 1968. It was while he was at St. Ignatious that his fame for Mathematical brilliance started. There, he obtained the Cambridge School Certificate with a first division in nine subjects in 1966 and then passed the Cambridge Higher School Certificate with Grades A in Physics, A in Pure Mathematics and D in Applied Mathematics. This was 1968 and his results were an international and rare feat for an African boy.
Your circumstance must never stop you from being the best you can be. You are not limited and stop citing the conditions of your life as the reason for your circumstances. Nothing can stop a determined soul. You can blaze your trail on the map of greatness.
Despite the challenges that Martin faced he shined. Under the prevailing system then, black student were considered incapable of “three dimensional thinking”. Martin’s record broke that myth. Do not allow your life to be controlled by superstition and myths. Shine where you are and do the best with whatever you have. Greatness is possible, make it your magnificent obsession. Do not let other people’s prejudices become your reality. Be the best at whatever you are. You may not be a mathematical prodigy or genius, but whatever you are doing, do it with all your heart. Shower it with excellence and big dreams. Excellence has wings that lift you to opportunities that are beyond your current limitations.
Proceed and do not stop
You may walk slowly, progress may be stalling, but never walk backwards or look backwards. Martin Havey went on to University of Zimbabwe and did his BSc in Mathematics and Physics from 1969 to 1971, scoping the best science student book prizes yearly. He kept on his Mathematical path. In 1972 he proceeded to become the first student to study for the BSc Special Honours in Mathematics that he passed with a First Class. With such a distinction he could have easily secured a scholarship to study abroad. Your greatness does not depend on the physically geography of your location, but the mental geography that locates your thinking. He resolved so take responsibility for his family and pursue his academic path at home in Zimbabwe. Love your country and be a patriot.
When you show commitment, it will show. When you excel at what you do, doors open. The talented, Martin was readily offered employment by the University of Zimbabwe as the first black member of staff then. He was a teaching assistant from 1972 to 1974 and lectured from 1975 onwards, while pursuing his Doctor of Philosophy in Mathematics supervised by Dr Gavin Hitchcock. For the most part he had to work alone as he pursued his chosen path. Do not fear the lonely hours that you sometimes have to endure as you pursue your dream. You cannot make noise and do productive work at the same time. Focus is a necessary part of the journey of greatness. Martin Havey became the first person to receive a doctorate in mathematics at the University of Zimbabwe in 1980. His research was in the mathematics field of topology with an emphasis on category theory. He went on to publish his results in several academic journals and presented at conferences.
Your work in private will always benefit more people than you think. Do not give up or stop trying. Your lone struggle will be a blessing to many. You can do great things where you are and impact the world with your ideas. Havey’s mathematics today can be found across the world in all the leading universities. Ideas know no boundaries.
In 1984 Dr. Martin Havey was elected Dean of the Faculty of Science becoming the first black to hold that position in the university. Always keep scaling your ambitions and moving forward. Broaden your interests and keep thinking and working. Havey did not settle after his Doctorate. He became interested in the applications of Mathematics to finance and went on to study Acturial Science, eventually qualifying as an actuary. Always ask what the next step is for you. If what worked in the past for you no longer works, do not park in despair and despondency. Tackle the next problem. Retiring from the University of Zimbabwe in 1985 Havey began his actuarial science career with Zimbabwe’s leading insurers. His journey took him through Old Mutual, later Zimnat and then Southampton Assurance Company. One tag never left him – he was a noted mathematician who loved his craft.
Alongside all his professional activities, Martin was a poet and he wrote extensively. He was an artist and produced oil paintings and played the jazz flute; he loved life. He read widely, thought deeply, scribbled often, fiddled as a philosopher of the convergence of all things.
In Mathematics you normally meet this abbreviation: “QED” standing for quod erat demonstrandum. This is used to denote the end of a proof to some proposition. I guess that I will now insert “QED”. Only one problem remains unsolved in my mind: How did Funyana Mutyambizi end up being known as (Josephat) Martin Havey?
Committed to your greatness.