Canaan ‘Sweet’ Banana
Canaan Banana
Image Via NehandaRadio
ChurchMethodist Church
Personal details
Birth nameCanaan Sodindo Banana
DiedNovember 10, 2003(2003-11-10) (aged 67)
SpouseJanet Banana
ChildrenMichael, Nathan, Martin and Nobuhle Banana.
ProfessionCleric, Politician, Teacher, Academic

Canaan Sodindo Banana was the first president in independent Zimbabwe. He was also a renowned cleric and also played an influential role in brokering the talks between Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front led by Robert Mugabe and ZAPU which was led by Joshua Nkomo.


Canaan Banana was born in Esiphezini in the Essexvale District, present day Esigodini on March 5, 1936.[1] He was married to Janet Banana and had a four children; Michael Banana Thabo, Nathan Banana Sipho, Martin Banana Mhambi Salaam and Nobuhle Banana.


He did his primary education at Mzinyati Mission and his secondary education at Tegwani High School before attending Epworth Theological College.[1] He then went to Kasai Industrial Centre in Japan and from 1973 to 1975, followed by Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington DC, where he obtained his Masters of Theological Studies. In 1979, he went on to attain a bachelor's degree in Theology from the University of South Africa.

Religious career

Between 1963 and 1966, he was involved with the Methodist church and worked as a Schools manager at Hwange and Plumtree. He was then elected chairman of the Bulawayo council of churches in 1969 up to 1971. He was also the chairman of the Southern Africa Content Group at the urban/industrial Mission of the All Africa Conference of Churches from 1970 to 1973 and was also a member of the Advisory Committee of the World Council of Churches. Reverend Banana became chaplain at the University in Washington DC Between the years 1973 and 1975.[1]

Banana resigned as Methodist minister in Njube because he did not agree with a statement that the Methodist Church in Rhodesia had published.

Political career

Banana entered active politics in the colonial period when he became the vice president of the ANC but the organisation was outlawed by the Ian Smith regime and the ban was followed up by the arrests of several key members of the organisation. Banana fled to the United States of America where he was joined by his wife and children. Banana was however arrested upon his return to Rhodesia in 1975 only to be released after the Lancaster House Agreement. Canaan served as a ceremonial president at the assumption of majority rule in independent Zimbabwe. It is said the post was offered to Banana after Joshua Nkomo had turned down the offer on the grounds that the office did not have any real influence.[2] He held the office up until 1987 when Robert Mugabe became the executive president. He nonetheless continued to be a an influential figure in the politics after he took an active role in the talks that culminated in the Unity Accord which brought together Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe together into a single political entity.[2] Banana also served as the spokesperson for the Organisation of African Unity.


The most controversial part of Canaan Banana's life was his imprisonment following accusations that he had engaged in acts of homosexuality and sodomy.[3] It was in 1999 that Banana was found guilty of 11 counts and sodomy and abusing his power to carry out unnatural acts with men, the bulk of whom were part of his presidential staff. Banana however insisted that he was not a homosexual and that the charges which culminated in his incarceration were part of a conspiracy to fix him. Banana was eventually released from prison after serving eight months of his two year sentence.


Banana died from an undisclosed illness on November 10, 2003.[4] He was not given a hero’s burial that senior governing party members normally received


  • Canaan Banana was actually the first president of an independent Zimbabwe


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 , Background briefing, President Canaan Banana, Eight Non Aligned Summit, Harare 1986 Canaan Banana Published: 1986, Retrieved: June 23, 2015 NAZ, GEN-P/PRE
  2. 2.0 2.1 Andrew Meldrum The Rev Canaan Banana, The Guardian, Published: November 12, 2003, Retrieved: June 23, 2015
  3. Andrew Meldrum Canaan Banana, president jailed in sex scandal, dies, The Guardian, Published: November 11, 2003, Retrieved: June 23, 2015