The former president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, is dead, the country’s president Emmerson Mnangangwa announced in a tweet. Mugabe, famous for his struggle against colonial masters and their business influence in Zimbabwe, was the longest ruling president post-independence.
He ruled Zimbabwe from 1980, until 2017 when he was toppled by the military, putting an end to his 37 years’ rule. Mugabe is considered a hero for his fight for Zimbabwean independence pre 1980, through the Zimbabwean African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU PF) party.
Born in February 1924, in the then Rhodesia, Mugabe took his struggle for liberation to common height which got him imprisoned in 1964. He was spectacularly instrumental in dismantling Ian Smith’s Rhodesia.
However, he was chosen as the president of the ZANU PF while in prison, and became president after independence. But it was not all a jolly ride for Mugabe and Zimbabweans, although he was hailed for his courage to stand up against the west.
His famous speech against western influence on Africa, where he told Tony Blair – “We are not Europeans, we are Africans… so Blair keep your England and I will keep my Zimbabwe” – Won a lot of African hearts, those who saw him as an African hero for standing up to the imperialists against all odds.
His land reform enactment was also hailed as courageous, where he had to take the lands from white farmers and gave them back to Zimbabweans. A decision that attracted a lot of sanctions from the west, but Bob stood his ground, even though it came with an overwhelming price of high inflation.
Not everyone saw Mugabe as a hero though, there were others who opposed his rule and called it oppressive: where criticism was not allowed. While many see Mugabe as an African hero, others see him as an oppressor, a dictator who would stand up against imperialists, calling them out for whom they are: but then turn around to oppress his own people far more than the imperialists would have done.
Robert Mugabe is remembered by many as a man who ruled Zimbabwe with iron fists, killing and suppressing dissenting voices to stay in power.