Samkange, Thompson Douglas
1893 to 1956
Zimbabwean Methodist minister.
Samkange was born as Mushore, the son of Mawodzewa of the Gushungo royal clan of the Zwimbi chieftaincy in the Lumagundi district of Southern Rhodesia (present-day Zimbabwe). The first generation Christian under the tutelage of John White, he rose to Methodist leadership successively as a teacher, evangelist, and ordained minister. With White he organized in 1928 the Southern Rhodesia Native Missionary Conference. For twenty years as its secretary, Samkange was the voice of African Christian unity in church and state in that country. In 1938 he attended the International Missionary Conference at Tambaram, India, as the sole African delegate from his country. Inspired by the zeal for unity and self-reliance of Asian Christians, meeting with Gandhi and Nehru, and friendship with Albert Luthuli, Samkange returned to Southern Rhodesia with renewed commitment to African leadership in church and state. At Pakame he sought to build a self-reliant African rural church and educational center at a time of missionary dominance in the church and white settler control in government. Passionately committed to a unity that supersedes divisions of tribe, region, social status, or religious affiliation, Samkange helped to found the Southern Rhodesia Bantu Congress in1938, uniting existing associations in a national political movement. He served as its president from 1943 to 1948. Under his leadership, the congress aspired for mass membership and demanded full democratic rights, which became the hallmarks of later nationalist movements.
Norman E. Thomas
Terence Ranger, Are We Not Also Men? The Samkange Family and African Politics in Zimbabwe, 1920 - 1964 (1995; a collective biography of Thompson Samkange and of two of his sons, Sketchley and Stanlake).
This article is reproduced, with permission, from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, copyright © 1998, by Gerald H. Anderson, W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.