Former Revolutionary. Prime Minister (1980-1987); President(1987 – 2017).
Husband to Sally Hayfron Mugabe (d. 1992) & Grace Marufu Mugabe.
Father to Michael (deceased), Bona & Robert.
As a student ‘revolutionary’ leader in the 1980s, Robert Mugabe WAS one of my African heroes. I voraciously devoured all materials I could find on him and Joshua Nkomo (both were Zimbabwe’s pre-independence heroes, albeit on separate divides of the struggle).
One had other revolutionary heroes (like Kwame Nkurumah, Patrice Emery Lumumba, Nelson Mandela et all) but because my youth situated in the era of his struggle, there was no competition as to who stood out for me!
My rooms in university could be described as a shrine to the guy. My close friends then did not find the ‘infatuation’ funny at all. But I digress.
Robert, but your life turned out to be a disappointment! We are cultured not to speak ill of the dead, but I am only trying to put the record straight, not malign. The western press has taken the cream on that.
At independence the world had so much hope for Zimbabwe, so much so that many established economies were willing to offer great assistance to the nascent democracy. But you had to behave archetypal as an African leader.
First was the needless and divisive competition with Joshua Nkomo that caused so much pain to ordinary Zimbabweans. Then the needless fight with Britain, which could have been better managed. The zenith was the unfair land appropriation that brought the economy of the great Mwene Mutapa (Monomotapa) empire to its knees! All because you couldn’t keep your revolutionary friends in check.
Anyone who had been in Zimbabwe in the 1980s will weep at the Zimbabwe of 2019 that will be organising your funeral rites! All because you had to be the classic African big man! What a waste, what a let down.
You had to be harangued out of office because you kept forgetting writing materials you had to go back for, rather than exit the scene in glory. Boys who once worshipped the ground guy walked on rose up to rubbish your legacy, all because you failed to put your nation before your ego.
Dear Robert, you will be remembered, not as the hero you ought to be but as a despot. And that is the sad commentary of your passing.
Fair thee well, scion of the Shona tribe. I wonder how the Ndebele would remember you? I know how the world would.
©️ Adewale Adeniji. 6th September 2019.