(From left: Canaan Banana and his wife Janet, Robert Mugabe and his wife Sally Mugabe)

He became the first president in independent Zimbabwe from 1980 to 1987 having served as a Methodist minister.

  • Born in 1936 on the 5th of March in Esigodini
  • he was a cleric, politician, teacher and an academic

Janet Banana
Michael, Nathan, Martin and Nobuhle


  • primary studies at Mzinyati Mission
  • secondary education at Tegwani High School
  • attended Epworth Theological College
  • obtained his Masters of Theological Studies at the Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington DC
  • attained his bachelor’s degree in Theology from the University of South Africa, 1979.

Religious Career

  • worked at the Hwange and Plumtree Schools during his involvement with the Methodist Church between 1963 and 1966
  • became chairman of the Bulawayo Council of churches in 1969 and 1971
  • 1970-1973 he was the Southern Africa Content Group at the urban/industrial Mission of all the Africa Conference of Churches
  • was a member of the advisory committee of the World Council of Churches
  • 1973-1975 he was the Chaplain at the University in Washington DC.

Political Career

  • became a political activist in the colonial period when he became the vice president of the ANC before the organisation was banned by the Ian Smith regime, several key members were arrested.
  • Banana fled to the United States of America where he was joined by his wife and children
  • Upon his return to Rhodesia, he was arrested , released after the Lancaster House Agreement
  • he served as a ceremonial president at the assumption of majority rule in independent Zimbabwe which initially was meant for Joshua Nkomo who had rejected it saying it was of no real influence
  • he was in that office until 1987 when Robert Mugabe became the executive president
  • he continued to be influential and had an active role in the talks that led to the formation of the unity accord between Nkomo and Mugabe
  • he was also the spokesperson for the Organisation of African Unity


  • he was denied a hero status as he was regarded a serial rapist
  • he was imprisoned after allegations engaging in homosexuality and sodomy were leveled against him
  • 1999, he was found guilty of 11 counts, sodomy and abusing his power to carry out these acts with his presidential staff
  • he was released after serving eight months of his two year experience
  • he continued to deny the charges, insisting the charges which led to his incarceration were a plot to fix him.
  • One of his coerced homosexual relationship victims, Jefta Dube testified that in the 1980s, Banana seduced him at the State House after drugging his drink one night. He found himself half naked the following morning. Banana who was standing over him smiling said “We have helped ourselves”. The relationship stretched to 3 years. During his murder trial, he claimed to have shot the deceased after he taunted him saying “Banana’s wife”.