Thompson Douglas Samkange

Thompson Douglas Samkange

1945 President, African National Congress.

Thompson Samkange was born in 1887 in the Zwimba Reserve. He was a member of the Ngonya clan from which the chiefs of the Zwimba tribe were chosen. His mother was a devout Methodist.

He was educated to Standard VII at Waddilove Institute and subsequently ordained a minister of the Methodist Church. He preached at many places throughout the country, including Wankie, Pakami and Kwenda. He was elected President of the African section of the Southern
Rhodesian Missionary Conference but found the division of the Conference into racial sections distasteful. In 1945 he decided to revive the old African National Congress1 and became its President. He was still in command during the general strike of 1948.

He married Grace Mano about 1917. At one time
their family consisted of 10 children but two boys and
two girls died when young. One daughter, Mrs Evelyn
Shava, is today a leader in the YMCA movement in Mashonaland. His second son, Stanlake2, is a Doctor of Philosphy and a Professor of African History at North-Western University in Boston, USA. Another son, Sketchley, was tragically drowned in Lake Malawi in 1962.

Thompson Samkange was a dynamic man, possessed of great good humour. His willingness to help anyone in distress brought him the nickname ‘Mudavanhu’ (lover of people). His compassion was, however, matched by his great self-confidence which enabled him to stand
firm against anyone who challenged him. Towards the end of his life he was offered the Chiefship of the Zwimba tribe but he refused it because he felt that the
responsibilities would clash with his obligations as a minister of the church.

1 Originally started by Aaron Jacha in 1934.
2 See biographical entry under Stanlake Samkange.