When the mountain falls……Robert Mugabe 1924-2019

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Davison Kaiyo

He was an enigmatic leader even unto his death. To some, he was a revolutionary hero who fought racial oppression and stood up to Western imperialism and neo-colonialism.

He was a shining beacon of the African liberation struggle, who dedicated his life to fight for the total liberation of his people in Zimbabwe, Africa and beyond.

However, to some, especially those in the West, he was an evil dictator, a tyrant who should have ended his days in jail for crimes against humanity.

In one of his famous speeches in 2003, the man would say “this Hitler has only one objective: justice for his people, sovereignty for his people, recognition of the independence of his people and their rights over their resources. If that is Hitler, then let me be Hitler tenfold.”

There will always be mixed views about the man with loads of stories of the good and the bad. Much has been said, and much more will be said.

Only a few can be in the same bracket as the man himself – Baba Chatunga, mwana waBona, the towering Robert Gabriel Mugabe, we choose to celebrate the man described by South African President Cyril Ramaposa as a “towering leader of the struggle for independence and outstanding leader on the African continent”.

A liberator, educator, founder, empowerer, leader and African icon, he was a different thing to everyone but a true Pan-Africanist he was, an elder statesman, a freedom fighter and a Pan-Africanist who played a major role in shaping the interests of the African continent who was not afraid to speak his mind.

He fought for what he believed in, albeit not always in sync with everyone.  No doubt he made decisions he thought were good for his country; some, as is oft the case with all leaders, turned out to be bad but he stood by them.

He stood tall against global bullies and challenged Africa countries to find their place and voice in this globalised world.  His Pan Africanist ideology and his stance on the land reform and that Africa will not be truly free until its people are economically emancipated are some of the ideas he has left for the African child to emulate.

At one point many would agree with him and at times disagreed with him but such is life. Like all men he had his strengths and weaknesses - he did good and he also did bad -- such is the nature of all men. Controversial he was and a hero he is unto the time of his death.

Mugabe was a man of principle who stood for what he believed in even if he was in the minority. He was a man of courage, a man of courage who was never afraid to fight for what he believed in, fight for his people and stand against neo colonialism and imperialism.

One of his legacies lies in the education sector. Upon taking office in 1980, he revolutionarised the education sector and today the country stands with the highest literacy rate in Africa. He opened doors for many to attain the education that they were denied in Rhodesia. 

His legacy in ensuring education for all cannot be taken away from him. The man dealt with racist land ownership the only way he knew how and today many stand proud as successful farmers. Many may not agree with the way the land reform was done but it was long overdue. He indeed empowered the nation. A visionary leader who invested in the education of his people. His successes stand out more than his failures.

Gushungo, to many, the man was without his controversies such that even in death, opinions about him are divided but that cannot take away his great legacies, especially for the emancipation of Africa both politically and economically - that struggle to emancipate Africa must continue.

He played a huge role in the efforts for regional integration from the days of the Frontline States as he was fighting for the unity of the continent and defending it against the forces of colonialism and imperialism. No doubt the voice of Robert Mugabe shall be missed, as he would clearly articulate the African agenda.

As described by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, the late former president was indeed the embodiment of the Pan African spirit offering assistance to neighbouring countries such as South Africa against apartheid, Mozambique against the Renamo rebels in the early 1990s and the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1998. He was persistent in having Africa solve its own challenges and this earned him both friends and enemies.

After all has been said and done, we will need to interrogate why the predominantly white countries focus on his legacy as a dictator while the predominantly black ones acknowledge his role as a liberator. That should be telling for an African child.

An African liberator from colonialism, a giant of Pan-Africanism has fallen, the mountain has fallen. His contributions to the history of Zimbabwe and continent are indelible and shall never be forgotten.

 

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