Zim nationalist leader dies

South African-born Zimbabwean nationalist leader Ruth Chinamano has died, family members said on Monday. She was “in her 70s”, they said.

Born in Cape Town, she studied at the Zell Teacher Training College in Matatiele in then East Griqualand.

After meeting Zimbabwean nationalist Josiah Chinamano in Port Elizabeth in 1950, the two married.

Shortly afterwards they went to Zimbabwe, then Rhodesia, where she taught at the country’s famous Waddilove Institute, near Marondera, 60km east of Harare.

It was not long before Chinamano began organising women’s demonstrations against colonial and Rhodesia rule in Harare’s Highfields township, a place often cited as the birth of Zimbabwe’s nationalist movement.

In 1964, she was detained in Southern Rhodesia’s notorious Gonakudzingwa restriction camp with her husband.

Among those detained in Gonakudzingwa were the late Joshua Nkomo and Zimbabwe’s Vice-President, Joseph Msika.

Chinamano was “re-restricted” to Gonakudzingwa for a further five years in 1965, the year Ian Smith’s Rhodesia Front party illegally announced its unilateral declaration of independence from Britain.

She spent the next 10 years “in and out of detention” and was finally elected to Parliament when Zimbabwe held non-racial elections in 1980.

She is survived by two sons, a daughter and a grandchild.—Sapa

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