Robert Mugabe, Freedom Fighter and First President of Zimbabwe Lives On

Robert Mugabe_4
Robert Mugabe (History.com)

One of Zimbabwe‘s great sons is no longer: Robert Mugabe, the first president of Zimbabwe has passed away. This was a man who tirelessly fought for his country’s liberation, and for the Black race as a whole. Some have called him an icon of liberation, and indeed he was!

Robert Mugabe epitomized the freedom fights of then Rhodesia, a British colony ruthlessly run by a white minority. This once beautiful place had been renamed after  Cecil Rhodes a white tyrant who committed the greatest atrocities in that country in the name of the superiority of one race over the other and capitalism. It was only befitting that a freedom fighter like Robert Mugabe should come up, and fight to not only reclaim the land of his ancestors, but also appropriately reinstate it to its past glory, that of Great Zimbabwe !

Flag of Zimbabwe
Flag of Zimbabwe

Few people have sacrificed so much for a fight for freedom. After criticizing the government of Rhodesia in 1964, Robert Mugabe was imprisoned for more than a decade without trial. Mugabe lost his then only child while in prison; the colonial government did not allow him to bury him (almost 30 years later, he went on to have other children).

Robert Mugabe embodied Africa’s struggle against colonialism. He was a courageous politician, imprisoned for daring to defy white-minority rule. Later on, he was vilified by the ‘international community‘ (now we all know that this means: parts of Europe + USA) for restoring their lands to Africans, because this attacked whites’ interests in his country. I am not sure how to this day, some people believe that it is okay for less than 5% of the population to own 90% of the land in a country which is not even theirs… that is beyond me… what about those who were born there? what about those whose land it is? Will it be okay if the few Africans who have immigrated to say France, owned 90% of the land there?… Now will we all hear about injustice!

Robert Mugabe_7
Zimababwe’s President Robert Mugabe chants Zanu PF slogans with supporters gathered at the Harare International Conference Centre in Harare, Wednesday May 3, 2000. (AP Photo/Christine Nesbitt)

Learning of the passing of Robert Mugabe, many world leaders have expressed their condolences… below are just a few.

Julius Malema of South Africa said, “I’m saddened by the passing of our martyr and giant of the African revolution cde President Robert Mugabe. Let’s continue the fight and protect his legacy. We must not allow our enemies to tell us how to remember him; we know our heroes.”

Joseph Kabila, former president of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) said, “We will forever remember the worthy son of Africa, who came to our rescue when our country was victim of a foreign aggressor. The continent has lost one of its pan-African leaders, a hero of independence.

Hage Geingob
Hage Geingob of Namibia (ZimbabweSituation.com)

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta said Mr Mugabe had “played a major role in shaping the interests of the African continent” and was “a man of courage who was never afraid to fight for what he believed in even when it was not popular.

Hage Geingob, president of Namibia added, “… Robert Mugabe [was] an extraordinary revolutionary and tenacious freedom fighter who contributed immensely to Africa and Namibia’s cause for freedom.

Jerry J. Rawlings, former president of Ghana said, “RIP Comrade Mugabe. You lived for the dignity of your fellow black. Your African pride, dignity and audacity were unassailable. Africa has lost a bold and noble Statesman.

Cyril Ramaphosa
Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa (AlJazeera.com)

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa called Mr Mugabe a “champion of Africa‘s cause against colonialism” who inspired our own struggle against apartheid“. And indeed Robert Mugabe supported the fight against apartheid and tremendously helped the ANC in its struggle to defeat that monster called apartheid. Ramaphosa added that under Mugabe’s leadership, “Zimbabwe’s sustained and valiant struggle against colonialism inspired our own struggle against apartheid and built in us the hope that one day South Africa too would be free”. During the decades of our own struggle, Zimbabwe’s liberation movement supported our own liberation movement to fight oppression on multiple fronts. After Zimbabwe achieved independence, the apartheid state brutalised and violated Zimbabwe as punishment for supporting our own struggle” . Many Zimbabweans paid with their lives so that we could be free. We will never forget or dishonour this sacrifice and solidarity.”

Robert Mugabe_China
Xi Jinping of China with Robert Mugabe (Source: South China Morning Post)

In his condolence message, Chinese President Xi Jinping said China had “lost an old friend and a good friend.” Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Mugabe’s death was deeply mourned in China, noting that the former president opposed foreign interference and actively promoted Beijing’s relations with Zimbabwe and Africa. China described Mugabe as an “outstanding leader of the national liberation movement and statesmanwho firmly defended the country’s sovereignty, as African leaders termed him a “liberator” and “pan-Africanist.

Winnie the Great: the Mother of the Nation, and a Warrior like No Other!

Mandela_3
Nelson and Winnie Mandela, on Nelson’s release from prison on 11 Feb. 1990

It is with great sadness that I learned of the passing of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the mother of the Nation. My eyes still remember that pivotal day, of February 11, 1990, when Winnie Madikizela-Mandela walked hand-in-hand with her husband Nelson Mandela as he was coming out of jail after 27 years, and raised her fist to the entire world, to a reception of hundreds of supporters and thousands around the globe. We had all prayed for that day, and that day came because of Winnie’s selfless battle against apartheid. 

Winnie Mandela_5
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

The incredibly dignified and beautiful Winnie Mandela fought like no other, and I can truly say today that without her constant fight to keep her husband’s name and fight alive during those 27 years he spent in jail, nobody would have remembered Nelson Mandela, and the history of South Africa and the 1994 rainbow democracy would have been different. For it is because of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela that we all know Nelson Mandela to the extent that we know him today. While he was in jail 27 years, furthering and refining his law studies and other things, she was out there tirelessly working for the freedom of her people, keeping his name alive, and fighting the apartheid system. Winnie fought, and endured so many hardships: brutalized by the police, constantly forced to lose her job by the apartheid system, single-handedly raising her 2 children, repeatedly thrown in jail for her values, harassed, beaten, and humiliated by the system, her children constantly thrown out of school or denied admission because of who she was, exiled/banished to a very racist white-only community for years, and so much more. At one point she was thrown in jail for 17 months, and spent most of that time in solitary confinement, where she had no formal contact with another human being at all aside from her interrogators, among which were notorious torturers.

Winnie Mandela_3
Winnie Mandela, wearing her khaki slacks, helps bereaved comrades carry the coffin of an apartheid victim (SA History.com)

Part of what kept Winnie motivated during her banishment (exile), and even throughout her life, was her exceptional ability not to become demoralized and her inexhaustible tenacity to keep busy. While she was living out her banishment she established a local gardening collective; a soup kitchen; a mobile health unit; a day care center; an organisation for orphans and juvenile delinquents and a sewing club.

Winnie Mandela_11
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela at an ANC rally (Source: Reuters)

Sadly, while she waited 27 years for Nelson Mandela, it took him 4 years after coming out of prison to get rid of her! Really? Seriously? I guess women are supposed to keep the candle up and be loyal, while men are not held to the same standards. Any man who would have gone through 27+ years of what the apartheid system did to Winnie would have cracked, but not Winnie, she fought the fight, she fought for her people, and in 2009, the people re-elected her to the parliament in great fanfare. In January 2018, the University Council and University Senate of Makerere UniversityKampalaUganda, approved the award of an honorary Doctor of Laws (LLD) degree to Winnie Nomzano Madikizela-Mandela, in recognition of her fight against apartheid in South Africa. Julius Malema, the leader of the EFF, said last June:She [Winnie Madikizela-Mandela] should have been the first female president (of the country)‚ a real president who was not going to be a front for male leadership.”

Winnie Mandela_10
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela celebrating her 80th birthday surrounded by Julius Malema and Cyril Ramaphosa (Source: Timeslive.co.za)

Please read SA History who celebrated the life of OUR HEROINE the gorgeous and strong Winnnie Madikizela-Mandela, the mother of the nation (do not forget to read what I said about African Women and Revolution); also read her book, Part of My Soul Went with Him. We, Africans, have to write our own history, and celebrate our heroes. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was a hero like none other. Without Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the world would not have known Nelson Mandela! If anybody has earned their place in history and in the hearts of her people, it is definitely Winnie Madikizela-Mandela! She was a woman of principle, and of great love for her people!