Ndabaningi Sithole

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Ndabaningi Sithole was born on 31 July 1920 in Nyamandlovu, located in the northern part of Bulawayo and he died on 12 December 2000 in Philadelphia, Pennesylania, United States of America (USA).[1] He was the son of Jim Sithole who was a carpenter and Siyapi Tshuma.[1] He was a teacher, a nationalist movement leader, a politician and a clergyman. He was married to Vesta and they had five childern


Sithole and his family resided in Nyamandlovu but they relocated to Shabani in the 1930s.[1] Sithole's father had secured a new job in Shabani and this propelled their relocation. Whilst in Shabani, Sithole was sent to a Wesleylan mission school because his father was able to pay his fees. However, between 1933 and 1934, Sithole was forced to leave school because his father could no longer afford to pay his tuition.[1] It was then that Sithole was obliged to seek employment as a means to generate income. He thus began to work as a kitchen boy. Between 1935-1939, he attended Dadaya Mission as he had enrolled to learn during the evening.[1] He passed his standard 6 and was a favourite of many because of his intelligence. In 1939, he obtained a bursary tenable at Waddilove Training Institution for two years.[1] It was then that Sithole was trained to become a primary school teacher. Whilst being trained to become a qualified teacher, Sithole also began to study for his National Junior Certificate by correspondence, of which he passed again. Sithole began to teach at Dadaya Mission School and whilst he was teaching, he also studied for hie Matriculation Exemption Certificate by correspondence.[1]In 1953, he obtained his Bachelor of Arts General Degree with the University of South Africa by correspondence again. [1] In 1958, he was appointed the principal of the Chikore Central Primary School. [1]The following year he was appointed to be the president of the African Teachers Association, a position which he held upto 1960.

Religious Career

Other than being trained to become a qualified primary school teacher, Sithole was also trained to become an accredited preacher. Before he recieved training, Sithole had long shown his passion for preaching. In 1948 at Tegwani Training Institution, he had proved to be an accredited preacher for the British Methodist Church.[1] In late 1950, he left Tegwani to join the United Methodist Church. In 1953, he was appointed to be part of the teaching staff at Mount (Mt) Selinda.[1] Between 1955-1958, Sithole was enrolled at the Andevor Newton Theological School, Massachusetts, where he studied theology.[1] Upon his arrival in 1958, he was ordained at Mt Selinda Congregationalist Church.[1]

Political Career

The publication of African Nationalism in 1959, a book written by Sithole launched his political career as an African nationalist leader. On 9 September 1959, Sithole became a member of a multi-racial political party in Southern Rhodesia. This was largely because they were political parties led by Africans. With the inception of the National Democratic Party (NDP) in 1960 led by Joshua Nkomo, Sithole became the treasurer of the party. In 1961, the NDP was banned. This resulted in the formation of another political party called Zimbabwe African Peoples Union (ZAPU) which was also led by Joshua Nkomo. This party was however marred with conflicts and disagreements and this in turn led to the formation of Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU)by nationalists such as Enos Nkala, Herbert Chitepo as well as Sithole. ZANU was formed at Nkala's Highfield residence in 1963. In 1964, ZANU had its first congress in Gwelo, (present day Gweru) where Sithole was elected to be the first president of ZANU.[2] In spite of this however, Sithole was arrested and detained from 1964-1974 by the Rhodesians who veiwed ZANU as a more dangerous party as contrasted to the moderate ZAPU. Sithole was released in early 1975 but he had already lost his position as the president of ZANU. This was a decision which was made by senior ZANU leaders who where in prison in Salisbury. Most of these were members of the High Command and the War Council (Dare reChimurenga). Sithole was deposed on the basis of that he had capitulated to the suggestion of Kenneth Kaunda during the period of detente (a period between 1974-1975 when the liberation struggle had gone on abeyance)who was opining the view of letting the war to come to a halt in preferance of the attainment of independence through negotiations. The deposition of Sithole saw the ascendancy of Robert Mugabe to the helm of ZANU, a position which he has held upto date. Although Sithole was deposed, he never went into oblivion. He formed his own party ZANU-Ndonga which was also said to be moderate. Sithole's party also had its military wing known as Madzakutsaku.[3] The Madzakutsaku were alleged to be on the pay roll of the Rhodesian led government.[3] The population at large could not distinguish between the so called genuine freedom fighters and these Madzakutsaku. It was only after people listened to their commissars and heard their songs which enabled them to identify these Madzakutsaku.[3] On 3 March 1978, Sithole signed the Internal Settlement Agreement with Ian Smith together with Abel Muzorewa, Chief Jeremiah Chirau and other nationalists who were viewed as the moderates.[4] The Internal Settlement led to the creation of Rhodesia-Zimbabwe and it was supposed to allow the attainment of independence and the majority rule of Zimbabweans on the dictates of the settlement.[4] This settlement was discarded by ZANU and ZANU. During the Lancaster House Conference, Sithole was also present and he lost the 1980 elections to Mugabe.

Career After Independence

In 1983, Sithole went into self imposed exile in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA and he returned in January 1992.[5]The following year, he became a member of parliament as he was elected by his tribal people to represent them.[5] In 1996, he was a candidate for the presidential election but he withdrew.[5] In 1997, he was accused of conspiring to assassinate Mugabe. Punishment was meted upon him and he was sentenced to two years in prison. He however never served his sentence as a result of health problems. Sithole returned back to the USA. In his absence, his party won a seat in the parliament in June 2000. Sithole's party still exists but its vibrancy is limited to Sithole's home town.


  1. African Nationalism
  2. Obed Mutezo
  3. The Polygamists
  4. Roots of a Revolution
  5. AmaNdebele kaMzilikase
  6. Frelimo Militant


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 author, [http/:www.colonialrelic.com title], "publisher", published:,retrived:17 June 2014"
  2. author, [http/:www.britannica.com/ title], "publisher", published:,retrived:17 June 2014"
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Tarwiri Tirivavi, [http/:www.herald.co.zw./ndabaningi-sithole-was-no-hero], "The Herald", 3 Sep 2012:,retrived:17 June 2014"
  4. 4.0 4.1 J Day, [http/:archive.lib.msu.edu title], "publisher", 1979:,retrived:17 June 2014"
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 author, [http/:en.wikipedia.org title], "publisher", published:,retrived:17 June 2014"