Dr Chikanza was born and grew up in Chegutu, Zimbabwe. Attended St Ignatius College, University of Zimbabwe and furthered specialist training in the UK at Kings Guy & St Thomas’ Hospital and Medical School, London, UK; the Royal College of Physicians, London, UK and Tufts Medical School, Floating Children’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
It was in the 1990s when he left Zimbabwe. Since leaving Zimbabwe he further improved his educational status acquiring qualifications such as a MB – Bachelor of Medicine; ChB – Bachelor of Surgery; MRCP – Member of the Royal college of Physicians, London; FRCP – Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, London; FRCPCH – Fellow of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, London and FACP – Fellow of the American College of Physicians, USA.
All this medical industry success is the culmination of fulfilling his parents’ wish as he said, “my parents encouraged me to be a doctor.”
His business interests include running a petrochemical manufacturing plant in South Africa. Asked about how he got into this line of work (petrochemical) he said, “A gentleman I met in Cape Town encouraged me to go into the petrochemical field and also introduced me into the oil business opportunity.”
Replying to how big or successful his business has now become, he said: “Business is tough in Africa but we are preparing for the economic turn-around which we can sense (is) round the corner.”
Asked to explain the challenges he faced when he came to the UK, either in further educating himself or establishing his business he had this to say: “As a black person, you meet and face prejudice every day. This can make you want to give up. It’s very bad in the medical field and all sorts of excuses are used in the system to attempt to stop you from progressing. This has been the struggle of my life in the UK.
“You have to be at least 10 times better than your white counter-part to get anywhere. I had a number of mentors in my carrier who supported me strongly both professionally and emotionally: Prof Rodney Grahame and Dr Mike Wright in the UK; Prof Jimmy Thomas, Prof Charles Olweny and Mr Mauchaza in Zimbabwe; Dr Ron Wilder, NIH, Bethesda, Washington USA.”
Dr Chikanza is no doubt an international role model and he gave advice to others who may look up to him. “Remain focussed. Know and stick to your roots. Be proud to be black and believe in yourself. If you do not have a solid background and believe in yourself, it’s difficult to succeed in the UK environment.
“My parents and family have been very important to me and their support has been invaluable for my success.”
His secrets to success are many, and these encompass replies like: “Always working hard and striving to become the best. Tenacity and diligence in everything I do. Putting God first in everything I do. Love of mankind. Believing in myself that God has given me the talents and that I should use them to bear fruit.Never giving up and also coming up with strategies to succeed and support of my parents and family.”
In his work he is motivated by the “drive to succeed and to be the best”, “love of mankind and God” and the cliché “The sky is the limit.”
Dr Chikanza impressed as a humble and approachable personality despite his global success. After requesting an interview, he responded quickly, in just a couple of days. This demonstrates that despite his massively busy schedule he embodies the decency, kind heart and professionalism to respond timeously to each and everyone around him who needs his service.
An experienced academic, consultant physician and in rheumatology with an acute business acumen, has a demonstrated track record of charity service and working in the medical practice industry. He is skilled in negotiation, petroleum and chemical industry, business planning, laboratory and clinical research and strategic planning.
After graduating from the University of Zimbabwe with MB, ChB, he worked with Dr Laing and the government of Zimbabwe funded by Save Children UK to set up the first ever charitable Farm Worker Health Scheme in farms in Zimbabwe. In this venture he was supported by his mother who is a nutritionist and teacher who set up a nutrition teaching centre for patients at Bindura Hospital. Farm Worker Health program had a tremendous beneficial effect on black farm worker communities and it wiped out malnutrition in farms in Mashonaland Central.
He went to London and specialised in medicine and the sub-speciality of rheumatology becoming the first black rheumatologist in the UK. Shortly after finishing his specialisation he was appointed a consultant in Rheumatology at St Bartholomew’s & The Royal London Hospital, London. In 1996, he was appointed to be the first black Professor of Rheumatology (Isaac Albow Chair of Rheumatology) and Head of Rheumatic Diseases Unit, UCT Medical School, University of Cape Town, South Africa.
In addition to his excellent clinical work which is highly regarded by patients in East London, he has trained many undergraduate students and postgraduate doctors, supervised PhD and MD students. His pioneering research work in the field of neuroendocrine immunology contributed to the development of some novel therapies for the inflammatory arthritis which have revolutionised the management of these diseases. These drugs are now also used to treat Crohn’s and ulcerative bowel diseases. He is a Visiting Professor of Medicine to a number of international universities. He has also served as President, Royal Society of Medicine (Ethnic Minority Health Section), London, UK and on the NHS COREC Research Ethics Committee for many years.
In addition to the above, he is also Editor-in-Chief of the European Medical Journal – Rheumatology, have published over 100 scientific papers and edited 4 medical textbooks; is also a founding fellow of the East, Central and Southern Africa College of Physicians launched in 2016. More recently he was awarded the FACP qualification by the American College of Physicians in recognition of contributions to the field of medicine.
His latest passion is to spread the access of Rheumatology expertise in Africa. He was awarded a grant to set up an Arthritis Care Centre in Harare by the International League Against Rheumatism and the American College of Rheumatology. He sees patients with arthritis there once every month. He plans to ensure that poor patients in Africa suffering from arthritis will also have access to the expertise of a rheumatologist and the expensive treatments used nowadays to treat the condition. To achieve this, he has set up the Arthritis Care Africa Foundation charity organisation. Details will soon be available on its website.
In 2008 whilst in Cape Town, he set up Sachi Chemicals SA and Sachi Oil SA, a 100% black owned petrochemical company by acquiring petrochemical manufacturing plants from Engen / ExxonMobil Company in South Africa.
This is one of the largest independent energy/oil companies and manufacturers of petroleum chemical products and lubricants in South Africa, if not in Africa, that is wholly black owned.
Sachi Chemicals SA runs the largest grease and lubricant oil plant in Africa manufacturing all industrial, marine and automotive lubricants in Johannesburg, South Africa; provides tribology services as well as manufacture of adhesives and detergents. The plant is geared up to manufacture biodiesel using its own proprietary patented cavitation technology once the regulatory environment has been regularised.
The company is keen to work with mines, transport companies, railway companies to supply high quality lubricants in a cost effective manner as well as tribology predictive maintenance service for all their equipment. A modernisation plan to expand bulk fuel storage facilities to 40 million litres and lubricants oil and grease manufacture will bring it at par with any of the larger multinational oil companies in the world.
Doing business in Africa has been tough over the last few years. Despite this, Sachi Oil SA is planning to expand into Zimbabwe, Zambia and DRC to capture maximally the anticipated upturn in business in these markets.
Finally, he also runs an R&D (research and development) company that holds a patent for a green and more environmentally friendly asbestos replacement product that utilises waste paper as a raw material. This will, if adopted widely lead to the reduced reliance on asbestos as a raw material for insulating, roofing and piping products globally.