Ndabaningi Sithole national hero status conferment today Rev Ndabaningi Chandiwana Sithole

Columbus Mabika Herald Reporter

Today is the official conferment of National Hero status and laying of wreaths on the grave of the late Rev Ndabaningi Chandiwana Sithole at Freedom Farm in Mt Selinda Manicaland.

A private church service led by the United Church of Christ in Zimbabwe shall be held at the family homestead, where only the guest of honour, senior Government officials, party officials and a few invited guests shall attend.

The main event shall take place at Emerald Hill School in Mt Selinda, Chipinge District, where members of the public will be addressed.

Cde Ndabaningi Sithole served as the founding Zanu leader and was also a clergyman. He passed away in the United States in December 2000.

President Mnangagwa last year posthumously conferred him with national hero status.

Cde Sithole was born on 21 July 1920 in Nyamandlovhu, in colonial Rhodesia.

At the age of 15, he was admitted to Dadaya Mission, a New Zealand Church of Christ School run by Garfield and Grace Todd, who recognised his intelligence and sponsored his education.

After completing his studies at Dadaya Mission, Cde Sithole undertook teacher’s training at Waddilove Methodist Mission School in the late 1940s, following which he taught at Tegwane Mission, before he returned to Dadaya Mission, then Ngezi Mission.

While at Ngezi Mission, he pursued private studies which resulted in his obtaining a BA degree by correspondence from the University of South Africa. He also began writing books during this period.

In 1953, Sithole and family moved to Mount Selinda Mission in Chipinge, where he continued to teach and was also a lay preacher.

The community subsequently recommended him for theological training at Newton Theological Seminary in Andover, Massachusetts, USA, a graduate school and theological seminary affiliated with the American Baptist Churches and the United Church of Christ.

He returned to Rhodesia in 1957 as ordained minister and became headmaster of Chikore Mission, in Chipinge, and in 1959 he was elected president of the Rhodesia African Teacher’s Association. The previous year, Cde Sithole had published “Umvukela wamaNdebele” his first book in an indigenous African language, which told the story of two wars the Ndebeles fought against the colonisers in 1893 and 1896, and, how their leader Lobengula evaded capture in defeat.

Later in 1959, Reverend Sithole published “African Nationalism” which propagated his views on African liberation and that each post-independent African nation-state ought to define ‘maximum political satisfaction’ for itself using the experience and the resources at its disposal.

In his own words: “No independent country should dance to the tune of another country, African or non-African”.

In 1960, Cde Reverend Sithole was elected treasurer of the National Democratic Party and because of his political activism, he was forced to resign from his teaching positions by the government of Rhodesia.

In 1962, Reverend Sithole left his position as pastor in the church to focus entirely on politics.

Following the banning of NDP, he became Chairman of the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU) in 1962, which subsequently split the following year and led to the formation of the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) of which he was elected founding President at the inaugural congress held in Gwelo.

In May 1964, Reverend Sithole was detained and would be incarcerated for the next 11 years.

Upon his release from prison in 1975 after the assassination of  Herbert Chitepo, Chairman of ZANU, Reverend Sithole moved to Lusaka in Zambia to continue leadership of ZANU.

In 1980 he ran in the Presidential election race under the banner of ZANU Mwenje against other leading nationalist contestants and lost to Robert Mugabe of ZANU PF.


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