Joshua Nkomo


Biography of Joshua Nkomo

Joshua Mqabuko Nyongolo Nkomo (19 June 1917–1 July 1999) was the leader and founder of the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU) and a member of the Kalanga tribe. He was affectionately known in Zimbabwe as "Father Zimbabwe", "Umdala Wethu", "Umafukufuku" or "Chibwechitedza" (the slippery rock).

Nkomo was born in Bukalanga or Bulilima, now referred to as Semokwe Reserve, Matabeleland South and was one of eight children. His father (Thomas Nyongolo Letswansto Nkomo) worked as a preacher and a cattle rancher and worked for the London Missionary Society. After completing his primary education in Rhodesia, Nkomo took a carpentry course at the Tsholotsho Government Industrial School and studied there for a year before becoming a driver. He later tried animal husbandry, then became a schoolteacher specialising in carpentry at Manyame School in Kezi. In 1942, at the age of 25, during his career as a teacher, he decided that he should go to South Africa to further his education, do carpentry and qualify to a higher level. He attended Adams College and the Jan H. Hofmeyr School of Social Work in South Africa. There he met Nelson Mandela and other regional nationalist leaders at the University of Fort Hare, though he did not attend that university. It was at the Jan Hofmeyr School of Social Work that he was awarded a B.A. Degree in Social Science in 1952. Nkomo married his wife Johanna MaFuyana on 1 October 1949.

After returning to Bulawayo in 1947, he became a trade unionist for black railway workers and rose to the leadership of the Railway Workers Union and then to leadership of the African National Congress in 1952. In 1960 he became president of the National Democratic Party, which was later banned by the Rhodesian government. He also became one of Rhodesia's wealthiest self-made entrepreneurs.

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