Robert Mugabe and His Contribution to Africa

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Robert Mugabe Avenue, next to the Parliament, in Windhoek, Namibia

Namibia’s Founding President Sam Nujoma has described the late Zimbabwean President Robert Gabriel Mugabe as one of the continent’s most iconic leaders who fought for the liberation of his country and that of Africa at large. “He will be remembered as one who stood firm when others wavered. He was an iconic Pan-Africanist,” Nujoma said.

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Zimababwe’s President Robert Mugabe chants Zanu PF slogans with supporters gathered at the Harare International Conference Centre in Harare, Wednesday May 3, 2000. Mugabe launched the Zanu PF’s election manifesto which bears the slogan “Land is the Economy and the Economy is Land”. (AP Photo/Christine Nesbitt)

Robert Mugabe’s contribution to the freedom of Namibia, and all of Southern Africa and Central Africa is so immense that there are streets named after him throughout the region; for instance, an avenue bears his name in downtown Windhoek, the capital of Namibia. He worked tirelessly for the liberation of most of Southern Africa, including his very own country of Zimbabwe. Many countries such as Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa (with the fall of the Apartheid regime), Angola, owe their freedom to his unwavering support. Even in the  Democratic Republic of the Congo, (DRC), his support, sending troops there, helped avert total chaos. Joseph Kabila, former president of the 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.

Don’t agree with everything you read online, in the Western newspapers. When an African leader stands for his people and is fighting for their freedom, the western press calls him a dictator, a heretic: Laurent Gbagbo, Muammar KadhafiKwame Nkrumah at the end of his life, Sekou TouréPatrice Lumumba, … When he serves western interests in pillaging his country, he is a democrat and a friend: Paul Biya, Omar BongoAlassane Ouattara,  Mobutu Sese Seko, and countless others. Pay attention and you will see… and since the media are controlled by the west, we get a different version, very far from reality.

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Map of Windhoek’s city center on the plate of the National Museum of Namibia, showing the Robert Mugabe Ave and the Fidel Castro St., as well as the Sam Nujoma Ave.

Everybody is stricken by some amnesia and forgets that the economic problems of Zimbabwe stemmed from economic sanctions imposed on them by Western powers such as the UK, US, and Europe. Before Mugabe fought for land restoration, he was knighted by the Queen of England, when he asked for the land of his forefathers to be returned to their rightful owners, he became a dictator. Go figure!

No wonder, Julius Malema of the EFF said “We must not allow our enemies to tell us how to remember [Robert Mugabe]; we know our heroes.”

 

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

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

Strong African Women and History Amnesia, Patriarchy, Sexism, and Racism: the Case of Winnie Mandela

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Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

The world celebrates men. Men can be ambitious, they can work to liberate their countries, they can be revolutionaries, and lead people. No one is against that. The world applauds these men. But when women fight for the liberation of their countries, they are vilified; they are called all sorts of names. It’s as if the world suffers from selective amnesia. We have a woman who is at the same level as all the world revolutionaries, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. 

Just taking a look back at history, men, white supremacy, and patriarchy do not like strong women, and particularly strong black women. For instance, in the 1660s, white men described (and it can still be read in history books) the great Angolan warrior Queen Nzingha who fought for her people’s freedom and fought the Portuguese against slavery, as an angry, power-hungry, and over-sexed woman who would sleep with one new soldier every night, and have him killed the next morning. Such absurdity! Wouldn’t that diminish her troops, troops strongly needed to fight against the Portuguese?

Queen Nzingha of Angola
Queen Nzingha of Angola

Next, we have the great queen Taytu Betul, the queen without whom there would have been no Battle of Adwa, where Ethiopia defeated Italy, the first victory of an African nation on a European one. There again, European historians describe Queen Taytu Betul as a man-eater, a woman with a black heart, manipulative, hateful, and conniving.

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Empress Taytu Betul of Ethiopia

In both cases, the truth is that they are afraid of the power of the Black woman; these historians vilify Black women. The patriarchal and white supremacy system hates Winnie Madikizela-Mandela because she fought like no other, like no man would have. She was strong, and brave, and a woman of principle. To them, she was a woman, she should have stayed home, and not joined and fought tirelessly for freedom. Even though she was cleared of the murder of Stompi, she is hated while Nelson Mandela is sanctified, but everybody forgets that Nelson Mandela was once the leader of Umkhonto we Sizwe the armed branch of the ANC. We do not hate that fact, because we know that, that was what was needed at the time for the apartheid regime to fall. So why do people applaud Nelson Mandela, and honor him, while they hate Winnie Madikizela-Mandela who kept his name alive while he was in jail 27 years, and fought like not many human beings (not even him) would have fought? The world applauds him, because he is a man. The world should also celebrate her, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

Stop the sexist history, the patriarchist history, the racist history. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela is a world revolutionary, and should be applauded for her stance all those years, for her hard work, her determination, her principle, and her love of her people. She should be celebrated. Please do watch what EFF leader Julius Malema has to say about it.

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

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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!