Canaan Banana was a Methodist minister, a diplomat who mediated during fighting in Zimbabwe and Liberia, and a former president of Zimbabwe (1980-87).

He spent quite a bit of time in jail in Zimbabwe, on 11 counts of sexual assault on male employees. His victims include a cook, a gardener, and a police officer. Reportedly, his methods of seduction included card games, dancing lessons, and french kissing.

The scandal broke during the 1997 murder trial of Jefta Dube. Dube was Banana’s bodyguard and one of his victims. When, in 1995, a fellow police officer taunted him by calling him "Banana’s wife," Dube snapped and shot the other man. Quick, somebody call Jenny Jones!

Banana fled to South Africa for a time, but returned reportedly hoping for a presidential pardon. His prospects were not good, since Zimbabwe is not exactly progressive when it comes to sexual orientation. Prime Minister Robert Mugabe has called homosexuals "lower than pigs and dogs." Banana died in 2003 while in exile in London, still waiting for that pardon.

But dammit, where did he get a name like that? You know someone named "Canaan Banana" was destined to get into some kind of interesting trouble.

Just an aside.

I have noticed that when Africans adopt English names that they do so with an absolutely carefree disregard for assumed conventions because they do not assume the same conventions.

I have met people with names like Prince High Holy Christopher. His mother just liked the sound of it.

In the same way, a woman's rubber shower cap was seen adorning the head of what appeared to be someone generally regarded as a very "cool dude" in Monrovia, Liberia.

Very refreshing, really.

Of course, I find that most people have their names backwards with the family name last and the personal name first instead of the East Asian form of family name and then personal name. I adopt this convention in email, but it still seems odd to me.

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