Death of enlightened pragmatism by R. W. Johnson

I was a missionary. I am a missionary. I was never a politician”, was how Garfield Todd described himself, while happily agreeing that he had enjoyed being an MP and Prime Minister. In one sense this may account for the failure of Todd’s political career, but it also helps explain why his long shadow still falls across Zimbabwe in a way equalled by none of his rivals and opponents. In part this is because the missionary tradition has been so immensely influential throughout southern Africa: not only were all liberals and communists really in the missionary tradition, but so was D. F. Malan, the father of Afrikaner nationalism. Garfield and Grace Todd arrived in Southern Rhodesia from New Zealand in 1934 where they set up Dadaya Mission in Matabeleland. This was to be the centre of their lives for twenty years – they physically built the mission, its church and school, and Grace there devised an educational system which formed the foundation of the whole national system of education.

Indeed, the fact that black Zimbabweans are today so formidably better educated than, say, black South Africans is directly traceable to Grace’s efforts. When the Zimbabwe independence negotiations were held at Lancaster House in 1979 the largest single group among the black participants were the Dadaya graduates. Todd’s success at Dadaya and his increasing prominence led Sir Geoffrey Huggins, who was Prime Minister in Rhodesia for over twenty years, to invite him to stand as a parliamentary candidate in 1946, a role Todd embraced with the quite conscious aim of becoming the unofficial representative of the voteless black population, for his work had induced in him an enormous sympathy for, and pleasure in the company of, the people among whom he laboured. But Todd also worked genially and with transparent honesty and commitment for the general good, so that by 1953 he was elected by his United Party as leader and Prime Minister. At the same time the Todds handed Dadaya over to other hands and acquired a large cattle ranch, Hokonui. What this meant was that, almost by accident, an entirely liberal man had come to power in white-ruled Southern Rhodesia – something that never came close to happening in South Africa. Todd was no revolutionary but he persistently asked the white electorate to “co-operate with the inevitable”. “The future of the country does depend upon government remaining in the hands of enlightened and responsible people”, he argued, “and it depends also upon the maintenance of what weterm European standards. At the same time opportunity must be provided for Africans to advance to these standards.” He pushed hard for greater expenditure on African education and he also brought the great Kariba Dam project towards reality. Above all, he hoped to bring about democratic rule – with an African majority – working with legal means and entirely within the existing system. While Todd remained at the helm African opinion felt there was some real chance of a peaceful evolution towards majority rule. Once he fell it was assumed that that chance had gone. Thus began a predictable Calvary. Todd pressed an increasingly conservative white electorate, scared by the rise of African nationalism, to accept the enfranchisement of more Africans as the only possible path to a shared multiracial future.

Inevitably, he faced growing opposition and unpopularity and was forced out as Prime Minister in 1958. His successor, Sir Edgar Whitehead, turned decisively towards a more repressive policy – before he in turn had to give way to more and more extreme options, first Winston Field and then Ian Smith. As white opinion continued to harden Todd openly argued that London must exercise its right to impose a more liberal dispensation, using armed force if necessary. This was dynamite: for white Rhodesians it amounted to virtual treason against his own kith and kin, while it was also deeply unwelcome in London, which did not want to be put to the question on this most delicate issue. This ended up with Todd being imprisoned and restricted by Ian Smith’s government for long periods of solitary confinement – and with Todd, by his own admission, committing treason by giving aid and comfort to the black guerrillas fighting the white regime. When Robert Mugabe came to power in 1980, Todd celebrated – and became a senator, thrilled with the new Zimbabwe. He was careful for several years to avoid all criticism of Mugabe, though he became increasingly unhappy at the evidence of Mugabe’s brutal and corrupt rule. Gradually he fell into open dissidence. He was horrified by the farm invasions which began when Mugabe was defeated in a constitutional referendum. Finally, in an extraordinary piece of spite, both Todd and his daughter, Judith, were deprived of their Zimbabwean citizenship on the grounds that they had the option to be New Zealanders. At that stage Garfield had lived in Zimbabwe for almost seventy years while Judith had been born there and had only ever briefly visited New Zealand. The New Zealand cabinet, proud of the Todds’ principled contribution to Zimbabwe, immediately voted Judith honorary citizenship. Susan Woodhouse adopts in her book the standard liberal position that if only Rhodesian whites had been willing to heed Todd’s advice and prepared the way for majority rule they would have not only avoided a dreadful war but also been able to deal with more moderate and reasonable African leaders like Joshua Nkomo. Todd worked closely and easily with Nkomo. When Britain and most of the Rhodesian parties agreed on constitutional proposals in 1961 which would have given blacks just fifteen seats in an eightymember legislature, Todd denounced them as “unacceptable to the majority of the people” – but “astonishingly”, Nkomo accepted the proposals. Yet it is far from certain that cooperation with Nkomo would really have had a peaceful outcome. The bitter rivalries and divisions among Rhodesia’s African nationalists not only produced violence on their own but would have guaranteed a competitive auction of populist and anti-white promises.

Nkomo, the father of African nationalism in Rhodesia, when ultimately defeated and humiliated by Mugabe, comforted himself by becoming immensely corrupt, so it became hard to say whether he would really have been a preferable alternative. Many whites never forgave Nkomo’s downing of two Viscount airliners during the guerrilla war. Wherever in Africa whites fought to resist majority rule the ultimate result was the victory of a radicalized and oppressive nationalist elite which combined ideological fervour with brutality and corruption – the worst of all possible worlds. This is what one finds in Algeria, Mozambique, Angola, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Indeed, such regimes allow of very little hope. It is in those countries that saw no such struggles – in Botswana, Mauritius and much of West Africa – that there have been somewhat gentler and more pragmatic outcomes. To be sure, those outcomes still fall a long way short of the “European standards” that Todd was seeking to preserve, but the lesser evil falls clearly on Todd’s side of the argument which, in an imperfect world, may be all that one can ask. Garfield Todd died aged ninety-four in 2002, still in the Zimbabwe whose people he loved but which he had come to view as a sad country ruled by evil men. He was a saintly man who had done enormous good for the very large number of people he had nurtured, taught and led. He was revered by large numbers of black Zimbabweans but it was difficult even for his white critics to cite anything mean, selfish or unworthy about him. Few of us indeed can aspire to such an epitaph.

Book Launch - Speech by Pius Wakatama

The End of the Liberal Dream in Rhodesia

By Susan Woodhouse

    I am really honored to have been asked by Weaver Press to speak at this launch of Susan Woodhouse’s memorable book: The End of the Liberal Dream in Rhodesia, a biography of the late Prime Minister of Rhodesia, Mr. Garfield Todd.

    As I read it, it occurred to me that the book could well have been titled The End of Sanity and The Beginning of Madness in Rhodesia or The End of the African Dream and The Beginning of Chaos in Zimbabwe. But then again, it may have been difficult to fit all of that on the cover.  

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Book Launch

Book Launch:

Garfield Todd: The End of the Liberal Dream in Rhodesia

A Biography Susan Woodhouse

Marmon Brooks

First published in Zimbojam

http://www.zimbojam.com/garfield-todd-new-book-weaver-press/


On a picture perfect Saturday morning (12 May) in Harare on the grounds of Gallery Delta, Weaver Press launched its latest title, an authorised biography of the former Southern Rhodesia Prime Minister (1953 – 58), Garfield Todd.

 

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Message from Susan Woodhouse

Message from Susan Woodhouse

for Zimbabwe Launch

Warm greetings to you all from Susan Woodhouse in Edinburgh, Scotland. I am very sorry not to be with you on what is for me an almost unbelievable occasion: the launch of my biography of Garfield Todd – which he had asked me to undertake because, he said, I knew him and Grace better than anyone. I had worked for Garfield for eight years, two in the Southern Rhodesia Prime Minister’s Office and six at Hokonui Ranch.

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Garfield Todd biography launched

By Newsday

 May 15, 2018

RENOWNED author and journalist, Pius Wakatama, has described Susan Woodhouse’s new biography of former Rhodesian Premier Garfield Todd — The End of the Liberal Dream in Rhodesia — as an important tool that will bring enlightenment around a crucial period in the country’s history.

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Zimbabwe and the path not taken

Trevor Grundy's review of Garfield Todd – The End of the Liberal Dream in Rhodesia by Susan Woodhouse, Weaver Press in Harare, 2018

The story of Garfield Todd in Central Africa starts in 1934. At the age of 26 he and his 23- year old wife, Grace and their adopted daughter, Alycen, came from New Zealand to the British self-governing colony of Southern Rhodesia to run the New Zealand Churches of Christ mission station at Dadaya in the Lundi Native Reserve near Shabani (Zvishavane).

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