Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4, Shibaura 4-chome,
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023
When I read sentences in the media like “Former Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith, who yielded power to Mugabe in 1980 ... ” from the December 12 Associated Press story reprinted in The Japan Times, “Rhodesia ruler Smith’s farm seized” I feel sorry for former Methodist Bishop Abel Muzorewa (d. 2010 in Harare) who habitually gets short shrift by history and the media. Robert Mugabe is repeatedly, and wrongly identified as the successor to Ian Smith as leader of Zimbabwe. Bishop Muzorewa was an interim prime minister in the latter half of 1979, immediately after Mr. Smith’s resignation, while the guerrilla leaders Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo were busy reforming their respective guerrilla armies into functioning political parties.
I was in middle school at the height of the guerrilla war in Rhodesia, and during the Africa unit of my geography class my teacher assigned Rhodesia to me as my class presentation country. Africa was a hot topic in those days highlighted by figures likes of Egypt’s Anwar Sadat, Uganda’s Idi Amin, South Africa’s Steven Biko and P.W. Botha, Zambia’s Kenneth Kaunda, Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere, Rhodesia’s Ian Smith and Zaire’s Mobutu Sese Seko. Today these are just dull names in a history book for anyone who cares to read about Africa. But for me they are names that occupied a significant part of my early adolescent brain, and Abel Muzorewa is one of them. Muzorewa is somewhat comparable to Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu in South Africa in so far as they were social rights leaders and reconciling mediators, although the specifics of their career trajectories are different. I think he deserves more recognition.