On 1 July, 1999 Father Zimbabwe, as he was affectionately known, passed away. Joshua Mqabuko Nyongolo Nkomo died at the ripe old age of 81 having contributed immensely to the Zimbabwean heritage. Here are 16 things about him that many Zimbabweans, let alone any other nations, don’t know about him:
1. Early Life
Joshua Nkomo spent his early life in the Kezi and Tsholotsho area of Matabeleland where he worked as a carpenter. In 1947, Nkomo graduated from Hofmeyr College in South Africa with a diploma in Social Work.
2. A.N.C. President
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3. Founded 3 movements
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He was the founding president of three nationalist movements – African National Congress (1957 president of re-sturctured ANC), National Democratic Party (1959), and the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (1961).
4. International Travel
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In 1957 whilst president of the ANC, Joshua Nkomo was the only nationalist leader with a passport. He attended the African People’s Congress in Ghana which was organised by Kwame Nkrumah.
5. ‘One man one vote’
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Nkomo as the president of ZAPU in 1961 became the first nationalist leader to publicly call for political independence on a ‘one man one vote’ basis.
6. Barefoot Rally
In late November 1961, Nkomo organised the “barefoot” rally in which all people were required to take off their shoes. The taking off of shoes symbolised a warning to the Rhodesian government on the impending sabotage activities and attack on industry.
7. ZAPU Life President
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In July 1963, Joshua Nkomo was voted Life President of ZAPU. He remained president of ZAPU until 1987 when he signed the Unity Accord of Robert Mugabe leader of ZANU to form ZANU-PF. He became vice president of the new party and Zimbabwe after this agreement.
8. Arrest and Detention
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He was arrested on 16 April 1964 and detained at Gonakudzingwa Restriction Camp. He would spend 10 years in prison and be released on 3 December 1974.
9. Honorary Degree
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He was awarded an honorary degree in Law from Moore House College in 1979. In 1998, Nkomo was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from National University of Science and Technology.
10. Lancaster House Agreement
Nkomo was one of the key signatories of the 1979 Lancaster House Agreement which paved way for majority elections and a new Zimbabwe.
11. 1980 Election
In 1980, Nkomo participated in the elections as president of ZAPU and his party went on to win 20 seats in parliament.
12. Cabinet Appointment
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He was the first Minister of Home Affairs in Zimbabwe in 1980.
13. Assassination Attempt
Nkomo escaped an assassination attempt in 1983 when bullets were fired through the windows of his house and one of his bodyguards was killed.
14. Member of Parliament
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He was elected MP for Magwegwe in 1985.
15. Helps Econet’s birth
In 1988, he played a crucial role in the awarding of an operating licence to Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, a company he felt had been treated unfairly by government in the awarding of mobile telecoms licenses. Econet went on to become the largest telecoms operator in the country and one of Zimbabwe’s most valuable companies.
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His burial at the National Heroes Acre in July 1999 attracted a record breaking 100,000 people from different parts of the globe.
For his full profile GO HERE.