Remembering Father Zimbabwe, 15 things you may not know about Joshua Nkomo

On this day 18 years ago, or to be more precise, on 1 July, 1999 Joshua Mqabuko Nyongolo Nkomo, affectionately known as Father Zimbabwe, passed away. He was 82. Nkomo was a nationalist who devoted a great portion of his life to fighting for the rights of the people of Zimbabwe.  Joshua Nkomo is an icon and a colossus of Zimbabwe’s political history.He contributed immensely to Zimbabwe’s heritage, and we will always honour his sacrifice and devotion.  For those who may have forgotten, or never knew or were not yet born, here are 10 things you may not know about Joshua Nkomo

1. Early Life


Joshua Nkomo was born in June 1917 and he was the third born in a family of eight children.   He spent his early life in the Kezi and Tsholotsho area of Matabeleland where he worked as a carpenter and taught carpentry. He, later on, attended Jan Hofmeyr School of Social Science in Johannesburg and graduated in 1949 with a BA degree in Economics and Social Science.  Nkomo married his wife Johanna “Mama” MaFuyana on 1 October 1949.

2. A.N.C. President


Image Via: NehandaRadio

Joshua Nkomo once served as the president of the African National Congress party between 1952 and 1959.  However, this was not the South African party, but a local Rhodesian party with the same name.

3. Founded 3 nationalist movements

He was the founding president of three nationalist movements – African National Congress (1957 president of restructured ANC), National Democratic Party (1959), and the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (1961).

4. International Travel

In 1957 whilst president of the ANC, Joshua Nkomo was the only nationalist leader with a passport. He travelled to Accra for the first All-Africa People’s Conference in Accra, Ghana which was organised by Kwame Nkrumah.

5. ‘One man one vote’

Image Via: Southern Eye

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 a “barefoot” rally in  Highfields.  All the people attending the rally attendees came barefoot, without their shoes, to signify the suffering of the black people under colonial rule.  It also symbolised a warning to the Rhodesian government of the impending sabotage activities and attack on industry.


7. ZAPU Life President

Pindula-Joshua-Nkomo-portraImage Via:

In July 1963, Joshua Nkomo was voted Life President of ZAPU. He remained president of ZAPU until 1987 when ZAPU was absorbed by ZANU to form ZANU-PF through the signing of the Unity Accord.  Robert Mugabe became the leader of ZANU-PF while Nkomo became vice president of the new party and Zimbabwe after this agreement.

8. Arrest and Detention

He was arrested in  April 1964 and detained at Gonakudzingwa Restriction Camp.  He was later moved to Buffalo Range Prison near Triangle for tighter security. He would spend 10 years in prison and be released in December 1974.  Before his release, Ian Smith hectored him about terrorism which angered Nkomo.  Referring to the incident, Nkomo said:

He was so arrogant and rude. I told him he was the biggest terrorist ever and asked him to put me back on the plane to Buffalo Range, and forget about me.

9. Light Machine Gun Choir

While fighting the war from Zambia, Joshua Nkomo set up the Light Machine Gun (LMG) Choir to sing revolutinary songs, encourage freedom fighters and raise the morale of the troops.  The group was made the official Zipra Choir in Zambia in 1978.  Some of its members included  Give Nare, Albert Nyathi and Solomon Skuza.  The late Cde Chinx performed aa similar role for the Zanla troops in Mocambique.

10. Honorary Degree

He was awarded an honorary degree in Law from Moore House College in 1979. And in 1998, Nkomo was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from  National University of Science and Technology.

11. Lancaster House Agreement

Nkomo was one of the key signatories of the 1979 Lancaster House Agreement which paved way for majority rule and a new Zimbabwe.

12. 1980 Election

In 1980, Nkomo participated in the elections as president of ZAPU and his party went on to win 20 seats in parliament.  He rejected an offer to be the first president (back then it was ceremonial) and became the first minister of Home Affairs in Zimbabwe.


Image Via:

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. 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 the 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.

15. Death and Burial

Pindula-Joshua-Nkomo-StatueImage Via: Radio Dialogue

Joshua Nkomo died of prostate cancer on 1 July 1999 at the age of 82 at Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare.  His burial at the National Heroes Acre in July 1999 attracted an estimated record-breaking 100,000 people from different parts of the globe.


For his full profile GO HERE.

Back to top

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

RSS Recent Profiles Created

Satisfaction survey
How likely is it that you would recommend Pindula News to a friend or colleague?
SuggestionsHow can we improve?
You have already submitted your feedback. If you would like to add more feedback please write us on