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Canaan Banana

What Did the Zimbabwe Government Do to Make Sure It’s Citizens Didn’t Make Fun of the President’s Last Name?

Canaan Sodindo Banana was the first President of Zimbabwe. He served from 1980 to 1987. He was a Zimbabwean Methodist minister, theologian, and politician. Banana was Zimbabwe’s first head of state following the Lancaster House Agreement, which led to independence. But did you know what the government did to ensure citizens didn’t make fun of their president’s odd name? 

Since the surname is easy to poke fun at and make witty puns, Zimbabwe Government officials passed a law in 1982 prohibiting citizens from making jokes about the President’s surname.

Who is Canaan Banana? 

Canaan Sodindo Banana was born on March 5, 1936, in Matabeleland, Southern Rhodesia, near Essexvale, now Esigodini. His mother was Ndebele, and his father was Basotho, who had emigrated from Lesotho. He attended the local Mzinyati mission school before transferring to Tegwani High School in Plumtree for his secondary education.

Banana became involved in anti-colonial politics in the 1960s and 1970s. He wrote The Gospel According to the Ghetto, which included a personalized version of the Lord’s Prayer that began, Our Father who art in the Ghetto. He embraced socialist Christian theology, declaring, When I see a guerilla, I see Jesus Christ.

Banana and his family fled to the United States after many Council members were arrested in the late 1960s and did not return until 1975. Banana was arrested upon his return, but he was released a year later, placed under house arrest, and then permitted to participate in Abel Muzorewa’s plans for the country. 

However, he abandoned that effort and joined ZANU, led by Robert Mugabe, a group dedicated to overthrowing the Smith administration. When Banana returned to Rhodesia in December 1976, he was arrested again for his support of ZANU; he was released from prison following the appointment of Lord Soames as Governor of Southern Rhodesia.

In 1980, Banana became the country’s first president under the country’s new constitution. He was instrumental in uniting the two major groups of independence fighters, ZANU and ZAPU, in forming the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front in 1988. (Source: The Guardian)

What is the Scandal Surrounding Ex-President Banana? 

Canaan Banana, Zimbabwe’s former president, was sentenced to ten years in prison with hard labor on sodomy and homosexual assault charges on Monday. However, Banana only served one of the ten years because the other nine have been suspended.

In sentencing Banana, the judge stated that he was mindful of his frail health. Banana was sentenced to eight years in prison for one count of sodomy and one of unnatural acts, with three years suspended if he commits no further such offenses and four more if he pays compensation.

Banana was sentenced to two years in prison with one year suspended for nine counts of indecent homosexual assault. The judge stated that the two sentences would be served concurrently for one year. The sentence reflected President Robert Mugabe’s views, who has waged an outspoken campaign against homosexuals, comparing them to dogs and pigs. (Source: The Guardian

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