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Canaan Banana

Canaan Banana (born 1936) is an Zimbabwean Methodist minister, he was the country's first president (April 18, 1980 - December 31, 1987) with Robert Mugabe as prime minister.

He took a diploma in theology at a college in Epworth and was ordained in 1962. He became involved in politics and rose to be vice-president of the African National Council[?]. As many Council members were arrested in the late 1960s Banana and his family fled to the US, not returning until 1975. Banana was arrested apon his return and remained in prison until 1979, after the Lancaster House agreement[?]. Under the new constitution Banana became the first president, a largely ceremonial role. In 1987 his post was taken over by Mugabe who made himself executive president. Banana became a diplomat for the Organisation of African Unity and head of the relgious department at the University of zimbabwe.

In 1996 he was arrested in Zimbabwe on charges of sodomy, following on from accusations made during the trial of his former bodyguard, Jefta Dube[?], for murder. Banana was found guilty of eleven charges of sodomy, attempted sodomy and indecent assault in 1998. Banana fled to South Africa while on bail before he could be imprisoned, apparently believing Mugabe was planning his death. He returned to Zimbabwe in December 1998, after a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Banana was sentenced on January 18, 1999 to ten years in jail, nine years suspended and he was also defrocked. He served two years in prison, being released in January 2001.

He married Janet[?] (b. 1938) in 1961 and they had four children. His wife sought asylum in Britain in October 2000.

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