Guy Clutton-Brock (born 5 April 1906 and died 29 January 1995) was an Agronomist, Zimbabwean Nationalist and the first white person to be declared National Hero by the Robert Mugabe led Zanu-PF government in 1995. He is also known for establishing the Cold Comfort Farm Society, which he turned into a pioneering non-racial community.
Guy Clutton-Brock was born in Wales. His father was a stockbroker. Clutton-Brock was educated at Rugby and Magdalene College, in Cambridge. He hesitated over a call to serve the Church but opted for the Borstal service in London. There he met Molly Allen who was teaching handicrafts to the boys, and in 1934. After the reorganisation of the Probation Service, Clutton-Brock became the Principal Probation Officer for the London Metropolitan Area. In charge of Oxford House in the East End during the Second World War, he turned it not only into a bomb shelter, but into a community centre, where the Clutton-Brocks' daughter, Sally, was born.
From there Clutton-Brock went to Berlin as head of the Religious Affairs Section of the British Control Commission, but he resigned in 1946 to work for Christian Reconstruction in Europe. Stifled by bureaucracy, he left in 1947, took a tiny cottage in Pembrokeshire and spent nearly three years working as a farm labourer.
Cold Comfort Farm
In 1949 the Clutton-Brocks came to Southern Rhodesia and started working at St Faith's Mission an Anglican mission in Rusape as an agricultural adviser. Clutton-Brock established the Cold Comfort Farm. The farm became an oasis of non-racial beliefs in the then very racial country. Cold Comfort Farm was an agricultural training place. Young people nurtured at the farm include Didymus Mutasa, Robert Tichaendepi Masaya, John Mature, Cornelius Sanyanga, Moven Mahachi, Dr D. C. Matondo and Hebert Ruwende.
In the mid-1950s, Clutton-Brock had met nationalist leaders James Chikerema, George Bodzo Nyandoro, Paul Mushonga, Peter Mutandwa, Dzawanda Willie Musarurwa, Edison Sithole and Kufakunesu Mhizha making St Faith's Mission a meeting place for black nationalists.
In 1957, Clutton-Brock helped craft the constitution of Rhodesia's African National Congress (ANC), which called for a true partnership of all inhabitants, a completely integrated society, and equal opportunities for all, and stated that advancement was possible only through non-racial thinking and acting. The ANC was banned in 1959, and Guy Clutton-Brock was detained for a month by the government.
Cold Comfort Farm Society was declared an Unlawful Organisation by the Rhodesian government and Clutton-Brock was detained. In 1971, Brock was declared persona non grata in Southern Rhodesia and deported to Zambia with nothing but a pipe and tobacco in his pocket. Before he left, Clutton-Brock is quoted to have said:
I am glad to share in the fellowship of the dispossessed... I regard the present regime as only temporary and myself as a continuing citizen of Rhodesia, so expect to see Zimbabwe again before long. I therefore say goodbye to nobody.
After being expelled from Rhodesia, Clutton-Brock and his family went to live in Wales. His family only returned to Zimbabwe after independence in 1980 for a final visit.
In Botswana his friendship with the Khamas, Tshekedi and Seretse (later Sir Seretse Khama, the first elected president of independent Botswana in 1966), led to the establishment of the Bamangwato Development Association, of which Clutton-Brock was an honorary director from 1961 to 1962, and which was involved in community development.
Clutton-Brock died on 29 January in 1995 in England. His memorial in England was attended by Didymus Mutasa and Robert Mugabe. He was declared a National Hero and in 1996 Mugabe received his ashes which were later buried at the National Heroes Acre.
After his death, a writer in the Mwana Wevhu column of the Harare based Financial Gazette of 9 February 1995.wrote
"His approach to Africa's future would not now please many of his former colleagues in the co-operative movement which he founded here. They, in their enjoyment of power, have become victims of the same worldliness that he saw as so destructive of man's true humanity."
Of his life, historian and journalist Lawrence Vambe wrote:
"Some say he was a living saint but I regard him as a very great man who was inspired by noble principles which he adhered to throughout his life."
Dawn in Nyasaland (1959)
Writing in his obituary on 16 February 1995, Judith Todd said that Clutton-Brock in his book Dawn in Nyasaland had the important statement of his personal beliefs, and his identification with the common man:
Every man is the common man. He is eternally individual, with an infinite diversity of gifts and experience. He is also a member of the community of Man, that spiritual communion into which he is individually born. We are all members of this community of man. We withdraw ourselves wholly or in part when we pursue primarily our own ends, our own individual, sectional, denominational, class, national or racial ends.
Cold Comfort Confronted (1972)
In 1972, Clutton-Brock published an autobiographical book called Cold Comfort Confrontedâ, which traces his roots working in England in the prisons and probation services, and youth and community work in the slums of East End of London and in post-war Germany.
- Lovemore Ranga Mataire Reliving the Cold Comfort Farm Society, The Herald, Retrieved:28 January 2015, Published:14 April 2014
- Trevor Grundy White man - black heart, The Zimbabwean, Retrieved:28 January 2015, Published:30 March 2006
- Judith Todd Obituary: Guy Clutton-Brock, The Independent UK, Retrieved:28 January 2014, Published:16 February 2015