ZIMBABWE: Benjamin Burombo (1909 – 1959) was one of Zimbabwe’s founding nationalists and a trade unionist who organized workers’ strikes in Bulawayo. He was also known for being a good public speaker and being critical of the colonial regime’s racist attitude towards blacks
Burombo was born in Buhera and in 1909. He worked briefly in South Africa where he met Clement Kadali who was also a trade unionist. He never received any formal education but managed to teach himself the basics of Law through personal reading.
He came to Bulawayo and made a living through selling biscuits. He founded a trade union known as the British African National Voice Association in 1947, the trade union was also politically active. Burombo was actively involved in the strike of 1948 which effectively forced the Native Labour Board to review wages that workers were earning.
He fiercely criticised colonial legislation such as the Native Land Husbandry Bill. The exploits of Benjamin Burombo in challenging injustices perpetrated in colonial Zimbabwe provided inspiration for many other nationalists later on.
He is said to have had a commanding presence such that he was able to sell the idea of a strike to black Africans working in Bulawayo regardless of attempts by the colonial administration to de-campaign the strike.
Although Burombo accepted the reality of colonialism, he also spoke heavily against racial inequality within the system. Burombo died in 1959.