LAZARUS NKALA (1927-1975)


Lazarus Nkala

Lazarus Nkala

1957-59 Treasurer, Bulawayo Branch, ANC.
1960-61 Treasurer, Bulawayo Branch, NDP.
1961-63 Bulawayo District Chairman, ZAPU.
1963-64 National Organising Secretary, PCC.
1974 (Dec.) Member of the Central Committee of ANC.
1975 (Sept.) Organising Secretary, ANC (Nkomo).

Lazarus Nkala was born on 26 February 1927 in the Filabusi District of Rhodesia. His father was a school teacher and lay preacher with the American Brethren in Christ Church.

He received his primary education at Mtepo Mission School and Mzingwane Government School. He then underwent elementary industrial training at Mzingwane where he qualified as a builder in 1947.

He worked in Bulawayo for many years as a builder, being elected Chairman of the Bulawayo Branch of the Artisans’ Union in 1950. In 1956 he was elected President of the Union, a post which he held until his arrest in April 1964. He was also for some time Matabeleland Regional President of the ATUC.

He joined the old ANCongress under Joshua Nkomo in the early 1950s and was for many years regarded as the dynamic force in the nationalist movement in Bulawayo. Despite his limited education he revealed a spirit of patience and tolerance and acted as a stabilising influence on those younger members of the movement who would otherwise have entered into violent clashes with the authorities. Possibly because of these mature qualities he was appointed Chairman of the Barbourfields Tenants’ Association, and a member of the Bulawayo African Townships Advisory Board.

He was detained for a period when the state of emergency was declared on 26 February 1959. From 1960 to 1963 he held branch and district posts in the NDP and ZAPU. When the split came in July 1963 he remained loyal to Nkomo and was appointed National Organising Secretary of the PCC. He was detained on 23 April 1964 and with the exception of a three-week period in April-May 1965 remained in either restriction or detention until 3 December 1974.

Because of his strong influence on the morale of the restrictees at Gonakugzingwa, he was removed (with Nkomo and Joseph Msika) in 1966 to the isolated Camp 5. Here he remained for four years, deprived of human contact apart from his two companions and visits from
officials. He passed his ‘A’ Level examinations for the General Certificate of Education and then studied for an external degree with the University of South Africa, graduating B.A. (Political Science and Public Administration).

Following his release he was made a member of the Central Committee of the ANC in December 1974. In August 1975 he attended the Victoria Falls talks as a member of the ANC delegation. When the ANC split became apparent in September he remained loyal once again to Nkomo and was appointed Organising Secretary at the congress held in Salisbury (Harare) on 26 and 27 September 1975.

Lazarus Nkala was killed on 3 December 19751 when the car he was travelling in overturned on the Salisbury (Harare)-Bulawayo road, about 80 miles (128 km) from Bulawayo. His funeral in Bulawayo on 6 December was attended by a huge crowd of mourners from all over the

He left a widow and 5 children.

1 The anniversary of his release from restriction in 1974.