A surprise twist in Zimbabwe forced Comrade Robert Gabriel Mugabe to resign as president.
The world was made to believe during the period that the ousted independent fighter was the first President of Zimbabwe.
As Zimbabwe celebrates the swearing-in of Emmerson Mnangagwa, I went searching and found out that Comrade Mugabe was really the second and not the first President of Zimbabwe. The southern African country, Zimbabwe was a British colony from 1923 to 1980 known as Southern Rhodesia.
The nation existed unrecognizedised state of Rhodesia until 1979, following its unilateral declaration of independence in 1965. It reconstituted itself under indigenous African rule as Zimbabwe Rhodesia in 1979, but again failed to win overseas recognition.
The country achieved internationally recognised independence as Zimbabwe in April 1980, following a Lancaster House Agreement in December, 1979. This followed the Rhodesian Bush War, a civil war that took place from July, 1964 to December, 1979, and also known as the Second Chimurenga or the Zimbabwe War of Liberation.
Under the country’s new constitution, Canaan Sodindo Banana was made the first president of the country in April, 1980 with comrade Robert Gabriel Mugabe as the Prime Minister. Banana, a Methodist minister, was born on March 5, 1936, and served as the first President of Zimbabwe from April 18, 1980 to 31 December, 1987.
His largely ceremonial post was taken over by Mugabe, who made himself an executive president. Banana then became a diplomat for the Organisation of African Unity and head of the Religious Department at the University of Zimbabwe.
He played a large role in bringing the two major groups of independence fighters, Zanu and Zapu, together to form the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, Zanu-PF, in 1988. Canaan Sodindo Banana was born in 1936 in Esiphezini communal area, near Essexvale, now Esigodini, Southern Rhodesia. His parents were a Ndebele-cultured mother and a Sotho father, who had emigrated to Rhodesia. He was educated by missionaries in a local school and later studied at a teacher training institute.
He married Janet Mbuyazwe in 1961 and they had four children. Banana took a Diploma in Theology at Epworth Theological College in Salisbury and was ordained as a United Methodist Minister in 1962. He was a student at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC between 1974 and 1975. Becoming involved in politics, he denounced smiths practices as a Prime Minister, took part in the rising Transnational Black liberation ideo-religious movements and came to be Vice-President of the African National Council.
He wrote a book entitled ‘The Gospel According to the Ghetto’ and a personalised version of the LORD’s Prayer. When many Council members were arrested in the late 1960s, Banana and his family fled to the United States and did not return until 1975. His later life was complicated by charges of Sodomy, a crime in Zimbabwe, which he denied and for which he was later imprisoned.
In 1997, Banana was arrested in Zimbabwe on charges of Sodomy following accusations made during the murder trial of his former bodyguard, Jefta Dube. Dube, a policeman, had shot dead Patrick Mashiri, an officer who had taunted him about being ‘Banana’s homosexual wife’. Canaan Sodindo Banana denied but was found guilty of eleven charges of Sodomy, attempted Sodomy and indecent assault in 1998. He fled to South Africa whilst on bail, apparently believing Mugabe was planning his death.
He returned to Zimbabwe in December 1998, after a meeting with Nelson Mandela, who convinced him to face the ruling. Banana was incarcerated on January 18, 1999 for ten years, and was also defrocked. He actually served six months in an open prison before being released. Banana died later of cancer, in London, on November 10, 2003 and was buried in Zimbabwe without the full honours that are traditionally reserved for former heads of state. President Robert Mugabe called him ‘a rare gift to the nation’ in a radio address.
No matter how one sees it, history can never be concealed and so do Canaan Sodindo Banana. He was the first President of Zimbabwe, Comrade Robert Gabriel Mugabe, the second president and so Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa can only be referred to as the third president and nothing less.