Casey, Michael W. (2007). The Rhetoric of Sir Garfield Todd: Christian Imagination and the Dream of African Democracy.
|Article Type:||Book review|
|Subject:||Books (Book reviews)|
|Publication:||Name: Communication Research Trends Publisher: Centre for the Study of Communication and Culture Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Sociology and social work Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2008 Centre for the Study of Communication and Culture ISSN: 0144-4646|
|Issue:||Date: Dec, 2008 Source Volume: 27 Source Issue: 4|
|Topic:||NamedWork: The Rhetoric of Sir Garfield Todd: Christian Imagination and the Dream of African Democracy (Nonfiction work)|
|Persons:||Reviewee: Casey, Michael W.|
Casey, Michael W. (2007). The Rhetoric of Sir Garfield Todd:
Christian Imagination and the Dream of African Democracy. (No. 2 in the
Studies in Rhetoric and Religion). Waco, TX: Baylor University Press,
2007. Pp. 436. ISBN: 1-932792-86-4 / 978-1-932792-86-7 (hbk.) $54.95.
Since Zimbabwe has been in the headlines so much recently, this is a timely book, dealing as it does with Sir Garfield Todd (1909-2002), who was awarded a Knight Bachelor of the Empire (KBE) by Queen Elizabeth II in 1986, began his life as a missionary in Africa in 1934, becoming, according to this book, the first missionary to become a head of state when he became Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia (as Zimbabwe was then known) in 1953. Outspoken in his criticism of racist policies in the 1960s and '70s, he was later put in prison under the government of Ian Smith, eventually suffering detention for five and a half years. In 1973, during his detention, he was awarded a papal medal and sent a blessing by Pope Paul VI, unusual for somebody who all his life was a member of the New Zealand Churches of Christ.
Sir Garfield spent his entire career trying to get people with similar ideas to coalesce into groups. His religious group was particularly ecumenically minded and was interested in education and "reasonable" (p. 2) Christianity. He worked to bring to fruition his notion of Zimbabwe, to which he had moved with his wife in 1934, as a multiracial society. His religious training (he trained in Dunedin, New Zealand) gave his speeches and rhetoric (with which this book particularly deals) what Casey describes as "its distinctive theology, style, and ways of thinking" (ibid.). He was an extraordinarily capable and skillful speaker and it was this that helped to develop his career in the public eye, which gave a platform for his support of human rights issues. His brilliance as a speaker is frequently mentioned by friend and foe alike.
Todd is described variously as "highly intelligent, instantaneous, and humorous" (p. 3); "down to earth and appropriate for politics" (ibid.); as having a "sure, broad, well-informed humanitarian outlook and his way of address is attractive" (ibid.); and as having a "fine mind and cultured heart ... he is a really great preacher" (ibid.).
For those of us who are British and old enough to remember the birth of Zimbabwe, one of the names that is remembered is Todd's. He spoke extensively against the racist establishment and for majority black rule. This, of course, did not sit well with many of the other white people in the country. Amongst other things, he took considerable risks which endangered his own safety. In 1978, after arriving back from chairing an Amnesty International Conference in Stockholm, he was arrested for "treason for helping the guerillas" (p. 4). When Zimbabwe became independent in 1980 he became a senator in Robert Mugabe's government, a job he continued until his retirement in 1985. However, after his retirement he became a critic of Mugabe's repressive regime. He became involved in the ZCC (Zimbabwe Christian Council), an ecumenical human rights organization, writing many documents for them. For Casey, it was his his influence that moved other religious leaders and assisted the churches to have a political voice in the nascent country (p. 5). All did not end well, however, despite his remaining optimistic of reversing racism and fighting Mugabe's oppression. Days after he and his wife, Grace, were called "white heroes of Zimbabwe" (p. 121), the Mugabe government, perhaps fearing his symbolic power as Casey suggests (ibid.), stripped Todd and his wife (Todd was then 93) of their citizenship and he was unable to vote in the 2002 elections. Notwithstanding this slight to Todd, he continued his campaigning to the end of his life.
While the book up to page 123 discusses the life and times of Garfield Todd, the second section (pp. 127-346) reprints some of his sermons and speeches, which had never previously been collected together. These are divided into three sections: sermon texts, political texts, and prophetic texts.
Dealing as the book does with a man who was in effect an incomer to Rhodesia, who could perhaps have been looked upon as a colonizer of the country, this book may be seen to be contentious by some. However, it does show that not all of those who went to the colonies were racist and only keen to take what they could from the country to which they went.
In the final speech of the book, a sermon that reflected on 54 years of service to Rhodesia/Zimbabwe (pp. 343-346), the man's belief and ability to forgive those who had treated him so badly comes through. One paragraph I found particularly sad given the problems that Zimbabwe has experienced, problems which it is to be hoped will soon be obviated. Todd said:
With more men like Todd, the world would be a better place. One hopes that the healing, mentioned above, will return to Zimbabwe and her people very soon.
This is a very well-researched book, with extensive notes and bibliographical references. It would appeal to students of African studies, of history, of the colonial and the post-colonial eras, and of politics. Most of all it would be useful for anyone studying rhetoric from a truly Christian missionary who lived his faith even to the point of risking the lives of himself and his family.
Communication and Media Research Institute
School of Media, Art and Design
University of Westminster, London
The civil war was long and brutal and cost 40,000 lives. Dadaya Mission and Hokonui Ranch were at times a center of warfare. But in 1979 peace was negotiated successfully at Lancaster House in London. Robert Mugabe announced a policy of reconciliation, not a Nuremberg trial, and we have experienced eight years of healing instead of a period of vengeance. (p. 346)
|Gale Copyright:||Copyright 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.|