Robert Mugabe has died at the age of 95 the sixth of September 2019.
After hearing this news, my instinctive reflex was to Google his name.
To my dismay, I found that his name is being associated with dictatorship and mainly that.
Some articles in European newspapers even compared him to Hitler.
To be honest, I did not expect less from them.
On social media, I have seen some journalists or fellow Africans sullying his memory or celebrating his death.
I could have been joining the celebration of Mugabe’s death, if I had not taken a different path that led me to question my biased views influenced by what the media wants me to think.
Some years ago, Mugabe was the reincarnation of the evil as the only portrait of him accessible to me was one of a racist dictator, killing his people.
They manipulated the public view through a well-orchestrated distortion of his image. For instance, we will see pictures of him in unfavorable moments:
Sleeping through important meetings, being in clownish poses or making sulfurous declarations.
They painted an image of Mugabe through a western lens as a dictator that lost his mind and we agreed to this illustration.
But do we know who Mugabe really is?
Mugabe of Africa with the clenged fist
When I started reading the story of Mugabe, I was shocked to discover that he had a glorious past.
Mugabe fought for the rights of black people in Zimbabwe formerly Rhodesia.
During those years, in Rhodesia, the white minority ruling the country was ensuring the protection of their privileges, at the cost of the black majority.
Mugabe has been in prison several times for defending his people, the longest being for 11 years.
The dream of the white minority was to mimic the model of South Africa but they didn’t account for the fierce resistance of the Zimbabweans.
Their determination led to the independence of Zimbabwe in 1980.
Robert Mugabe played a great role in this achievement.
However, this glorious past is often unreported and unknown by many.
What is amplified and known is his last years of power that have been used and misformed to undermine his legacy.
Yes, the last years were not the most brilliant moments of Mugabe, I will readily concede that. But did he suddenly start “eating white people for breakfast for no reason? Did you know that he used to be the darling of British and was even was awarded an honorary knighthood by the Queen of England.in 1994.
At that time, he was protecting the white minority land and were hunting the squatters out their property.
What caused the honeymoon to end?
The cause of the rejection of Mugabe by the west
Mugabe inherited a country with blatant inequities due to the British colonization that was officially dedicated to helping the “primitive African societies” to develop into modern world states. (source blogs.stockton.edu) But unofficially a legal way to expropriate the Africans from their properties.
The consequence of the colonization was, that the withe minority controlled the ressources of the entire country.
In order to compensate this deficiency, Great Britain agreed to support the land reform in Zimbabwe, reform initiated by Mugabe after his election.”All was well, in the best of all worlds”
In 1997, for unclear reasons, Tony Blair decided to stop supporting the process.The abrupt end of the contract, left president Mugabe in a delicate position and forced him to take” unpopular” decisions.
Here is what he (Mugabe) had to say about the back-pedaling of Tony Blair:
“We did not send away whites. We took away land in accordance with what the British and ourselves had agreed upon, Margaret Thatcher’s government. That commercial land reform programme, land shall be taken from the farmers and be given to the Zimbabweans. So, it was all constitutional.
“If Blair’s England was no longer willing to pay for the land, should we have just folded our hands and said, ‘Oh, Lord Almighty, I pray in the name of the father, the son and the Holy Ghost’?
“Goodness me, no! Blair, Blair, who was he? Just the prime minister of Britain. I’m president of Zimbabwe. So that is why we say ‘OK, it’s your money, keep it. It’s our land, we will take it.’ Balance.”
So, between Toni Blair who broke the promise to solve the problems created by Great Britain, and Mugabe who noticed and reacted accordingly who is to blame?
The IMF has also contributed to asphyxiate the economy of Zimbabwe and the European Union under the cover of human rights, applied targeted sanctions with the hope of bringing Mugabe on his knees.
Why all those attacks? How was he supposed to react?
Make no mistake, he won his “dictator’s star” because instead of turning the other cheek, he opposed resistance.
At various occasions, he spoke up for the interests of Africans without hesitations.
When the France of Sarkozy attacked Lybia, a war that brought the country from the economic pride of Africa to the no-man land we know today, he was the only African president to openly defend Gadhafi.
By refusing to bend backwards, he has signed his death warrant.
Overnight, he has left the category of political genius to join the club of dictators. An online campaign to reshape people’s perception was cleverly constructed.
The truth is, if we based the opinion of a person on a segment of history, we will be surprised that even Jesus could be labeled as violent, if we refer strictly to the episode of the cleansing of the temple.
In order to form an accurate opinion, one should consider the entire story and actions of an individual.
Why we, Africans,should celebrate Mugabe
That the westerners demonize Mugabe is understandable but that Africans follow their path without adding some perspective is unfortunate.
Bob Marley sang:“How long shall they kill our prophets, While we stand aside and look?” Killing does not necessarily mean physical elimination; like in the case of Thomas Sankara or Patrice Lumumba. Tarnish a reputation can also cause many damages.
As long as we base our opinions on the classifications of the western (made in their interests) of who is a dictator or not, who is approachable or not, we will participate in the lynching of our leaders and the celebration of theirs.
“Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter”
Valery Giscard d’Estaing the former French president who had his presidency punctuated by various scandals, the Diamonds Affair of Bokassa being one them, is still celebrated in Africa. Cote d’Ivoire has a boulevard named after him.
We can still find schools in Africa with names of people we barely know about but who were considered heroes by the settlers.
In the Oxford dictionary, they define a hero as: “A person who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities”. In my eyes, Mugabe certainly met those requirements.
He was a hero, with dark sides for sure nevertheless, he remains an African hero who has spoken up for our rights and fought racial oppression.
We need to emancipate ourselves from “mental slavery” and tell our story.
Rest in power Mugabe.