The Sunday News
A FOREIGN news agency last week spoke to 72-year-old Josephine Jaricha, a relative of the late former President Robert Mugabe.
“He lived his life fighting for this country, he would always fight no matter how much the whites would try to silence him. I never thought he would come out of prison, but he did and he did so much for so many people,” said Jaricha, recalling how she used to take regular train rides to visit the late Cde Mugabe during his imprisonment.
“A time would come when God would take him just like he took Sabina, Bridget and Donato (his siblings). I’m thankful for what he did for us as a family and in Kutama (his rural home), but it’s a painful loss; he was a father to us.”
Jaricha might have been talking as a relative of the departed nationalist, but her sentiments echo sounds from the length and breadth of the country, and indeed outside our borders and beyond. There is no doubt that the deceased will always occupy a special place in the history of the country. He was the father of the nation after leading the guerrilla war of liberation and being the first democratically elected leader of independent Zimbabwe.
After the birth of a new Zimbabwe, political disturbances that occurred as the nation took baby steps did not deter him from his vision of national reconciliation and reconstruction. Together with departed former Vice-President Joshua Nkomo, they led from the front to unite the nation and chart a new trajectory aimed at fulfilling both political and economic independence.
The late Cde Mugabe championed the Land Reform Exercise which sought to reverse land ownership imbalances of the colonial era where the majority of the land lay in the hands of the few white minority population. Among many success stories, he also laid the foundation for a model of education in the continent, and today, Zimbabwe is known for its rich education system.
After his death at a hospital in Singapore, the late ex-President, aged 95, was hailed the world over as an icon of liberation in the continent. AU chairperson Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who is also the President of Egypt, said: ‘‘It is with immense sadness that I learnt of the passing of Zimbabwe’s former President Robert Mugabe. My sincere condolences to his family and the Zimbabwean people as we mourn an iconic liberation fighter, pan-Africanist in the struggle for liberation and continental integration.’’
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said Cde Mugabe inspired South Africa’s struggle against apartheid and instilled hope that one day South Africa too would be free.
“South Africans join the people and Government of Zimbabwe in mourning the passing of a liberation fighter and champion of Africa’s cause against colonialism. Under President 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,’’ he said.
“Cde Mugabe was an outstanding national liberation movement leader and politician of Zimbabwe. Throughout his life, he has firmly defended the sovereignty of his country, opposed foreign interference, and actively promoted China-Zimbabwe and China-Africa friendship and co-operation.” said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang.
Tanzania’s President John Magufuli tweeted in Swahili: “Africa loses a brave, determined leader, an Africanist who turned the rejection of colonisation into action. May God let his soul rest in peace.”
The late former President’s Mugabeism has footprints across the continent. And we shall always cherish his selfless contribution to Zimbabwe’s nationhood and contribution to shaping Africa’s road to Pan-Africanism.
“The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1 verse 21). Go well Son of the Soil. Hamba kuhle Gushungo.