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.

 

The author of Garfield Todd: The End of the Liberal Dream in Rhodesia, Susan Woodhouse, now nearly 90 years of age and living in Edinburgh, Scotland, was resident in Zimbabwe from 1948 – 70.  She worked for Todd for nearly a decade, first as his Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office, and subsequently based at his Hokonui Ranch near Zvishivane.  

 

The book has been more than two decades in the making.  Woodhouse could not attend the launch due to the advice of her doctor, but Weaver Press’ Murray McCartney read her prepared remarks, with references to the Todd’s family’s reliance on ‘humour and laughter, even in the dark days,’ indicating a template that many Zimbabweans have come to rely upon.

 

Todd’s removal from office may have been a watershed moment in Rhodesian politics.  He lost office in 1958 when his cabinet revolted.  Had he managed to maintain power, it is possible that many tragic aspects of Zimbabwe’s history may have been avoided or ameliorated.  

 

By 1960, Todd joined with Joshua Nkomo to call for British troops to restore order in their colony and in the following year he co-founded the New Africa Party, a political party whose sole mission was to assist the nationalist cause.  His political career was briefly resuscitated after independence when he was appointed to the Senate, but he passed away in 2002, having been stripped of his citizenship and unable to vote in the election earlier that year.

 

The guest speaker, the outspoken veteran journalist Pius Wakatama, praised the book, which he noted reignited a long-standing sense of frustration with previous administrations in both Rhodesia and Zimbabwe, the leaders of whom he said with some wistfulness, he’d like to punch on the nose.

 

Buoyed by these comments, the crowd, which sprawled across the Gallery’s impressively decorated grounds and inside its historic building, informally debated Zimbabwe’s current moment of political transition for several hours, fortified by wine and an array of baked hors d'oeuvres.

 

The audience consisted of former students of Todd’s at the Dadaya mission, former nationalists (with what seemed to be an apparent lean toward ZAPU) and members of Todd’s short – lived Central Africa Party, a number of educators, Todd’s daughter, and the author Pettina Gappah.

 

Despite the vicissitudes brought on by the economic crisis, Weaver Press continues to persevere and publish a rich variety of titles that illuminate the important individuals, decisions, and events that have played prominent roles in the making of Zimbabwe.  The travails of Garfield Todd may be unique in light of his political and racial profile, but they constitute a path that many will identify with in light of continuities in Zimbabwe’s political system over the past half century.  

 

Brooks Marmon is an American PhD student at the University of Edinburgh whose research overlaps with the peak period of Todd’s political career.  He is presently based in Harare and tweets @AfricaInDC.