Reginald Todd was a missionary statesman in Zimbabwe. Todd was born at Invercargill, New Zealand, of Scottish descent and was educated at Otaga University and at Glenleith Theological College. After two years as pastor of the Oamuru Church of Christ in New Zealand (1932-1934), he immigrated to Southern Rhodesia (present-day Zimbabwe), becoming superintendent of the Associated Churches of Christ in New Zealand’s Dadaya Mission near Shabani (1934-1953). Under his leadership, Dadaya became a center in African education, serving 4,000 pupils, including high school students, with quality training in agriculture and construction. Acquiring his own 50,000 acre ranch above the Ngezi River, as well as a year’s medical training at Witwatersrand University in South Africa, Todd was a pastor, educator, farmer, and healer.
In 1946 he entered politics as a United Party representative in the Southern Rhodesia parliament. In 1953, upon the formation of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, he was elected leader of the governing United Rhodesia Party and prime minister of Southern Rhodesia, serving also as minister of labor (1953-1958), minister of native education (1953-1957), and minister of labor and social welfare (1958). Desiring a raceless community with equal opportunities for all, Todd succeeded in implementing the Land Husbandry Act and in rapidly advancing African education. But he was forced to resign as prime minister when his own party opposed his plan to extend the vote to more Africans. Defeated in 1958 as leader of a new United Rhodesia Party, and in 1960 as leader of the Central Africa Party, he retired from active politics. Respectfully called the lover of the African people, Todd emerged as a more militant liberal as white politics shifted to the right. His outspokenness led not only to his political restriction by the Ian Smith regime for 12 months in 1965 and 1966, and his arrest in 1972, but also to increased respect among Zimbabwe nationalists. As an executive member of the Christian Council of Rhodesia, Todd helped that body to become an African voice in the 1960s and 1970s.
Norman E. Thomas
Rolf Italiaander, The New Leaders of Africa (1961).
Ronald Segal, Political Africa: A Who’s Who of Personalities and Parties (1961).
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.