Nhamo Muchagumisa Post Correspondent
Africa has lost an illustrious son of the soil in the person of former President Robert Gabriel Mugabe.
The veteran politician and liberator will be remembered for his Pan African thrust, one of the two architects (the other being the late (Muammar Gaddafi) behind the transformation of the Organisation of African Unity to the African Union.
The Cape to Cairo political legend held various posts in SADC and the AU during his tenure as Zimbabwean President, including that of chairperson. Beyond the African continent, the iconic leader once chaired The Non Aligned
Movement at the zenith of the Cold War between the USA and the USSR.
Back home, his greatest achievement was leading the liberation struggle that brought the intransigent Rhodesian Front to the negotiation table, culminating in the historic 1980 elections in which his party ZANU(PF) got an avalanche of votes.
I first heard the name Robert Gabriel Mugabe in 1977 from the guerrillas who operated in our area, Munyoro Ward of Zimunya Communal Land.
The name became a household name as the Chimurenga spirit infiltrated our souls. We could only whisper his name, except at the popular Pungwe meetings. Even before whispering his name one had to check one’s sides first, lest there was a Rhodesian Front operative or simply a sellout close by.
Radio Mozambique came as a special treat to us as it offered us the opportunity to hear the voice of our HERO. From his speeches the young and the old learnt the liberation war ethos.
Thousands of youths heeded his voice and flocked to Mozambique to join the liberation war ranks. Some left their jobs, others walked out of classrooms and yet others walked out of chapels to fight for their land. That’s why in his humility Cde Mugabe would say, “I did not fight the struggle alone” .
The youths who did not cross into Mozambique to train as guerrillas heard his call in the mantra, “you and I have a role to play in the struggle” and supported the liberation movement with a passion. They became collaborators who furnished the guerrillas with information about the movements of the Rhodesian operatives. Without them guerrilla infiltration in the rural areas would have been impossible.
Parents slaughtered their goats and chickens to feed the comrades as the efforts of this great man had convinced them, that it was only through the struggle that majority rule would be realised.
One of his greatest achievements after independence was the expansion of the education system. The abolition of the bottle neck system saw even the least privileged citizen getting a decent education.
In 1996 he launched the presidential scholarship, hence some youths were sent to Fort Hare University to share his experiences of the early 1950s.
By the time he left office, the programme had expanded, with some youths being sent to study as far afield as China.
The liberation struggle did not end with the attainment of political independence. The turn of the millennium saw his government on an aggressive land reform programme to redress the injustices of colonialism.
In the process the veteran politician earned the infernal displeasure of Britain and the USA, resulting in the nation being put under sanctions which divided political opinion, with some citizens supporting the former colonial masters, while others condemned the sanctions with the venom of angered patriots.
In his last days in office, he fought another war, the war to keep his party united in the ugly face of factionalism.
Rest in peace African Legend. Long live the name, Robert Gabriel Mugabe.