Garfield Todd: The End of the Liberal Dream in Rhodesia: The Authorised Biography

Review by Bill Kirkman


On a visit to Zimbabwe, l had the pleasure, and privilege of meeting Garfield Todd -and it really was a privilege, because he still stood strongly for the rights of Africans, and he had no sign of self-importance. He was still, as he always been, a man who held strong views, and was always serving the people. After his death in October 2002 he was the subject of BBC’s Thought of the day, given by Bishop Jim Thompson, who began his talk with the words ‘A prophet has died in Zimbabwe’ (p.256).

It was an apt description of the service he had provided to the country over the years. Now, at last, he has the biography he deserves.

Garfield Todd was a strong Christian, with a strong sense of service. Brought up in New Zealand, he moved to Southern Rhodesia (Later Zimbabwe) in 1934, to work in Dadaya. He spent the rest of his life in Zimbabwe, serving for a short period as Prime minister (from 1953). He and his wife Grace provided huge service to the country, and in particular he worked tirelessly to develop good race relations, and education of Africans which would foster these.

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An addition to the literature on the Federal period

Review by The Independent

Posted on February 15, 2019 by The Independent in Entertainment


In light of the current academic focus on the liberation struggle post-1963 as a way of exploring Zimbabwe’s current predicaments, it is not surprising that except for the marvellous book by Holderness (1985), the “liberal interlude” of the Federation, mostly headed by Garfield Todd has remained quite unremarked by many scholars. This book is thus a welcome addition to the literature on the Federal period as well as one of the best biographies on a significant political figure in Zimbabwe’s history.


The tale of how a New Zealander came to occupy the highest political office in Southern Rhodesia is a fascinating one, especially considering that it happened less than 20 years after his arrival in the country and less than a decade after he entered political office for the first time. The ideas and ideals of the Todds were to find difficult purchase in Southern Rhodesia of the 1930s, in particular their notions of equality and industry alongside the people to whom they ministered. Their vision of what life could become here is intoxicating, even 80 years later, showing what hard work, respect for others and compassion for all can achieve when melded with leadership that is focused on a vision for a better, more equitable future.


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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.

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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

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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