Who is Robert Mugabe ‘really’?

Posted on 05/09/2010

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I read an article this week and a plethora of thoughts ran through my mind almost immediately. If the truth be known, I’ve been reading up on our President over the last several months now. Now more than ever, I want to know who this man is – this Robert Gabriel Mugabe born 21 February 1924. Who is he really? Many things have been said and written about him in the last 30 odd years. I am no longer as interested in the ‘main things’ as I used to be, and in fact I am not even sure what to believe any more. That line between the truth and the multitude of theories is so blurry now I don’t know what to believe. A few months ago I embarked on a journey and decided to find my own way to the truth. In typical fashion I ‘consulted’ Amazon and I purchased some Mugabe-related literature and recently acquired the ‘Mugabe and the White African’ DVD among other things. I Google like most and continue to digest the enormous volume of information on the web. You see, I am just so tired of the various articles (and there are plenty of them like this) which typically support what I regard as the ‘popular opinion’. I now wait for the day when I read an article, watch a documentary or read a book with a balanced view of who this man might actually be. I have to admit that I patiently await his own book, his version of events – the ‘Robert Mugabe Autobiography’. As time passes on I often wonder whether we will ever read this book. However I’ve been informed that a certain ex-minister is currently in the process of writing his biography. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

I am intrigued by certain sections of his life for a variety of reasons, not least my attempt at understanding the interplay between these sections listed below and the history of Zimbabwe. I decided to list the broad areas of interest as follows: -

  • Upbringing and formative years
  • Sally Mugabe
  • Pre-Independence
  • Joshua Nkomo, ZAPU and the Unity Accord
  • Post-Independence
  • 1990 to 2008
  • 2008 to Present

However, for the purposes of this particular scribe, I will focus on the Tony Blair article in The Independent.

There is so much negativity associated with Mugabe that it has simply left me wondering – ‘what is the reality these days’? What am I missing? Lately I’ve met a number of people (non-Zimbabweans I might add) who cast doubt over the typical news reports i.e. one sided. I guess we all seek the truth – who is this man really

As I finished reading this article, I immediately wrote this down: -

What happened in Zimbabwe between 1980 and 1987? – What happened in Matabeleland in the early 1980s, Joshua Nkomo, ZAPU and the events that led to the Unity Accord?

Mugabe is awarded an honorary degree by Edinburgh University – What events lead to this? Whose idea was it in the first place? Why the change of heart in 2007?

Mugabe is knighted by the Queen in 1994 – Who was there? Again what events lead to this? Whose idea was it in the first place? Again, why the change of heart in 2008?

The infamous Land Distribution Programme - Who really kicked started this major event? Who are the major stakeholders really? I am tired of hearing the bits and pieces that make for great headlines on BBC, CNN et al. What really happened with these stakeholders: -

  • War vets
  • Farmers (both black and white)
  • Blair and the British government
  • Mugabe and the Zimbabwean government
  • Others

(pause)

So I ask what events took place in between all this craziness for Mugabe to become the person he has now become in the media’s eyes. He went from being a liberation war hero to being one the world’s dictator’s according to this Foreign Policy’s article. What happened in between then and now? You see, my main concern is the pursuit of the truth. I am interested in our Zimbabwean history. I might ask the questions, discuss this pertinent issue with others and conduct some research to find the answers. Knowing me, I’ll probably share my findings as I typically do. As I network more and meet more Zimbabweans, especially in the diaspora, what invariably stands out most has been the alarming number of disenfranchised Zimbabweans I come into contact with. Some simply blame him directly for their own predicaments. I cannot fault them for this. They have experienced many difficult things but that story is for another day. However what concerns me most today is the lack of information about who this man really is. Many who lack proper facts about our Zimbabwe simply regurgitate what Mum & Dad have feed them or worst still – what the media constantly feeds us today. Call me naive if you want, I simply want a resemblance of the truth. I firmly believe it is imperative to understand this man if we are to understand the history of Zimbabwe.

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