Through the Darkness. A Life in Zimbabwe

A welcome and authoritative account of post-independence Zimbabwe
Todd, Judith
No longer available
€29.95 *

Author: Judith Todd
Publisher: Zebra Press
Cape Town, 2007
ISBN: 9781770220027
Soft cover, 15x23 cm, 472 pages, several photos


Judith Todd, the daughter of Sir Garfield Todd, erstwhile prime minister of colonial Southern Rhodesia, spent eight years in exile in Britain as an opponent of white minority rule in Ian Smith’s Rhodesia.

She returned to Zimbabwe shortly before independence in 1980, and soon realised that, far from being the solution to Zimbabwe’s ills, Robert Mugabe and his ruling Zanu (PF) party were increasingly becoming the problem.

As the country slid into economic and social decline, Todd had a front-row view from her position as director of a local development agency.

Over the first 25 years of Mugabe’s rule, she kept journals, notes and copies of letters and documents from which she has compiled an intensely personal account of life in Zimbabwe.

About the Author:

Judith Todd was born and raised in the former Rhodesia. As director of the Zimbabwe Project Trust, she worked for many years with members of the former liberation armies, the so-called war veterans.

By 2003, she had become such a thorn in Mugabe’s side that he stripped her of her citizenship. She now lives in Cape Town, South Africa.

Media Reviews:

RW Johnson, Sunday Times (London):
'The book blows sky-high the usual picture of Zimbabwe as having been run more or less reasonably by Mugabe, until his defeat in the constitutional referendum of 2000 caused him to pull down the pillars of the temple.

As becomes all too clear, the worm was in the apple from the start, with the new regime adopting a totalitarian and often violent attitude towards opposition.'

Percy Zvomuya, Mail & Guardian:
'A welcome and authoritative account of post-independence Zimbabwe ... essential reading.'

Alee Russell, Financial Times:
'This is an account of the betrayal of the Zimbabwean nationalist dream, rather than the end of a white African dream . . . Her observations are all the more striking given her knowledge of tlie main players in Zimbabwe's tragedy.'

Terence Ranger:
'Judith's book is an extraordinary portrayal of that great man, her father, in adversity and old age. It is a display other own remarkable persistence and courage. It is a treasury of truths - of what was really said and done by and to hundreds of men and women.

The pattern that emerges is moral rather than political. Power corrupts in a thousand details of hypocrisy and indifference. Some of the w^orst things are done by some of the previously best people. Judith was in the middle of almost every-thing and she was watching it all with a disconcertingly judging eye.'


MY FATHER DELIVERED ME INTO ZIMBABWE AT IMPOVERISHED Dadaya Mission in March 1943. A special ration of meat was provided for the school's boarders to celebrate the event. Many years later, one of those pupils, SG Mpofu, by that time managing director of the publishers Longman Zimbabwe, told me that while they had been glad of the meat, they regretted the birth of another white.

Sam also said that each week during the Second World War, my parents being the only ones at Dadaya with access to news from a wireless, my father would report to the assembled school on the war's progress. 'He had no idea that in our little black hearts we were cheering on Hitler,' said Sam. 'We thought Hitler would get rid of you colonists for us.'

Grace and Garfield Todd had arrived in Southern Rhodesia as missionaries from New Zealand in 1934, accompanied by my older sister Alycen, then two. By 1948, my father, from the black background of Dadaya, had entered white politics, the only kind permitted in the then British colony, and become a member of parliament.

In 1953 the country became part of a federation of three territories: the white, colonial-governed Southern Rhodesia, and the British protectorates of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland - today's Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi. The government of Southern Rhodesia, under the premiership of Sir Godfrey Huggins, moved lock, stock and barrel to take over the government of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, leaving clear decks for newcomers. My father became prime minister of Southern Rhodesia.

By 1958 he had been turfed out of government and parliament by the white electorate for working towards a democracy that would embrace the entire population of four million instead of just the quarter million who were white. In an attempt to silence his increasing opposition to minority rule, he was in 1965 restricted to his ranch for one year by the Rhodesian Front government of Prime Minister lan Smith.

This was just before Smith's unilateral declaration of independence (UDI) from Britain on 11 November, which unwittingly accelerated the outbreak of civil war. The declaration clearly demonstrated that if ever there was to be majority rule, it would have to be fought for.

In January 1972, my father and I were arrested. The police presented us with detention orders signed by Rhodesia's Minister of Law, Order and Justice:

'The making of this Order is based on a belief that you are likely to commit or to incite the commission of acts in Rhodesia which would endanger the public safety, or disturb or interfere with the maintenance of public order.'

We were respectively locked up in solitary confinement in the black male prisons of Gatooma, now Kadoma, and Marandellas, now Marondera. When news was smuggled out that I was on hunger strike, I was moved to the white female wing of Chikurubi Prison, Salisbury (now Harare), where there were medical facilities and I was force-fed until my strike was broken.

Thanks to worldwide protests, we were released from jail after five weeks and confined to my parents' house on their ranch, Hokonui. My father remained in detention until 1976. In July 1972, I was allowed to leave my country for exile abroad. However, I remained classified as a detainee, which meant that my name could not be published in Rhodesia, and it was stipulated that if I returned home, it would be specifically to jail.

The 1979 Lancaster House conference brought an end to Rhodesia's civil war. Lord Soames was appointed governor. A new constitution that effectively revoked the illegal UDI was successfully introduced in Rhodesia's parliament on 11 December by the Minister of Justice, Chris Andersen.

Parliament unanimously voted itself out of office, handing power back to the British. On the arrival of Lord Soames from London on 12 December, the country reverted to being the British Dependency of Southern Rhodesia. Britain assumed power over her reclaimed colony until majority rule elections for a new government could be held and legitimate independence conferred. One of Lord Soames's first acts was to lift detention orders. I was able to return home and did so in February 1980.

At Zimbabwe's independence in April 1980, my father was appointed a senator by the new Prime Minister, Robert Mugabe. My father retired from public life in 1985, but on 5 June 1986, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace for services to New Zealand and to Africa. In 2002, he was stripped of his Zimbabwe citizenship and his right to vote by the Mugabe regime, and that October he died in Bulawayo.

Over the years I kept notes and copies of letters that have now turned into this book. It is neither a history nor an analysis of events, but simply charts one person's impressions along Zimbabwe's roller-coaster ride from its birth on 18 April 1980.


ANC: African National Congress
ANZ: Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe
Aztrec: Association of Zimbabwe Traditional Ecological Conservation
CAZ: Conservative Alliance of Zimbabwe
CCJP: Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace
CID: Criminal Investigation Department
CIIR: Catholic Institute for International Relations
CIO: Central Intelligence Organisation
CSSD: Catholic Commission for Social Service and Development
Frelimo: Front for the Liberation of Mozambique
Hart: Halt All Racist Tours
ICC: International Criminal Court
Idasa: Institute for a Democratic Alternative for South Africa
IZG: Independent Zimbabwe Group
MDC: Movement for Democratic Change
MMT: Mass Media Trust
MNR: Mozambique National Resistance
NAM: Non-Aligned Movement
NCA: National Constitutional Assembly
NDP: National Democratic Party
OAU: Organisation of African Unity
Orap: Organisation of Rural Associations for Progress
PF Zapu: Patriotic Front - Zimbabwe African People's Union
PISI: Police Internal Security and Intelligence
PLO: Palestine Liberation Organisation
POSA: Public Order and Security Act
PTC: Posts and Telecommunications Corporation
Renamo: Mozambique National Resistance
SADC: Southern African Development Community
SWAPO: South West African People's Organisation
UANC: United African National Council
UDI: unilateral declaration of independence
Unesco: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation
Unicef: United Nations Children's Fund
UNOHAC: United Nations Office for Humanitarian Assistance Coordination
Woza: Women of Zimbabwe Arise
ZANLA: Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army
Zanu: Zimbabwe African National Union
Zanu (PF): Zimbabwe African National Union, Patriotic Front
Zapu: Zimbabwe African People's Union
ZBC: Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation
ZCTU: Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
Zidco: Zimbabwe Investment and Development Company
Zimcord: Zimbabwe Conference on Reconstruction and Development
Zimfep: Zimbabwe Foundation for Education with Production
Zimpapers: Zimbabwe Newspapers
Zipa: Zimbabwe People's Army
Zircon: Zimbabwe Institute of Religious Research and Conservation
ZNLWVA: Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association
ZPRA: Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army
ZPT: Zimbabwe Project Trust
ZTV: Zimbabwe Television
ZUM: Zimbabwe Unity Movement


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