ISBN 9781779223234
Pages 624
Dimensions 230 x 150
Illustrations Colour Photographs
Published 2018
Publisher Weaver Press, Zimbabwe
Format Paperback

Garfield Todd: The End of the Liberal Dream in Rhodesia

The authorised biography by Susan Woodhouse

by Susan Woodhouse

Prime minister Garfield Todd of Southern Rhodesia became known outside the country in January 1958 when his Cabinet rebelled and resigned. Within the country, the wonder was that he became Prime Minister in the first place.

Todd personified the failed liberal dream in Africa after the Second World War when Britain was in the process of dismantling her empire and attempting to create a multi-cultural show-piece in Central Africa – the  Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland – which would form a British-influenced economic and political entity that effectively separated an encroaching Marxist-influenced black nationalism in the north from an equally militant form of white Afrikaner nationalism emanating from South Africa, particularly after the establishment of apartheid, the Nazi-inspired system of racial segregation, in 1948. The failure of Todd, and the European liberals who supported him, cleared the decks for what they most feared: a head-on racial collision that cost at least 35,000 lives during the war of liberation between the years 1972 and 1979.

This book traces the development, triumph and failure of the man who unexpectedly found himself at the centre of political life in Southern Rhodesia, during the explosive years of 1953 to 1958. Todd was born in New Zealand and sent to Southern Rhodesia in 1934 by the Churches of Christ to take over their small mission station near Shabani in Matabeleland. Having built this up into a thriving centre of a wide circle of churches and schools, Todd entered Parliament in 1946 in Sir Godfrey Huggins’ United Party. Here he established a reputation as a sound, intelligent M.P. and a fine speaker.

Todd’s missionary years formed the foundation of his premiership, the basis of his close relationship with blacks (including many who would become leaders of their people), and his understanding of their difficulties, frustrations and growing ambitions.

When Todd was ousted from the premiership he continued his increasingly desperate attempts to persuade the whites that their only hope for the future lay in co-operating with black nationalism. He was so vilified by them that he withdrew entirely from formal politics – but he still did what he could – writing, speaking, lobbying influential people in Britain and the USA – to avert the inevitable disaster. He was arrested three times (once on a capital charge); restricted to his ranch twice, for a total of five-and-a-half years; and imprisoned in solitary confinement for six weeks; but never charged or tried in a court of law. At Independence, he served as a Senator for five years.

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About the Author

Susan Woodhouse

Susan Woodhouse began working for Garfield Todd in 1956 when he was Prime Minister, and remained as his PA for nine years, subsequently remaining in close touch with the Todd family. Thus, it was that in 1992, Garfield Todd asked her to undertake his biography because, Susan ‘knew them better than anyone else’. It was a challenging undertaking and Woodhouse visited Zimbabwe ten times, spending many weeks on Garfield’s papers in the National Archives of Zimbabwe, and interviewing surviving friends and colleagues. She also spent a month in New Zealand, and visited the places in Scotland connected with the families of Garfield and Grace.