Mugabe, One Of Africa’s Greatest? By Oladapo Ajibua


Robert Gabriel Mugabe is without doubt, Zimbabwe’s most iconic personality. He was intertwined with his country and one could hardly think of one without the other. He was powerful. He was bold. He was all that we knew of Zimbabwe in our conscious and sub-conscious.
He was born on 21st February, 1924, in Kutama, Zimbabwe and ruled the nation from independence in 1980 until he was ousted in 2017 in a coup. He was Prime Minister from 1980 to 1987 and then President from 1987 to 2017.
He was the hero of independence of the then territory of Southern Rhodesia which became known as Zimbabwe (dzimba-hwe in Zesuru dialect) upon the attainment of independence in 1980.In the course of the struggle for independence, Mugabe engaged the British rulers fearlessly (militarily and politically) and for this, he suffered numerous privations including severe physical torture and imprisonments.Mugabe was witty and sharp. He spoke with such flavor and could sway any audience. He combined native intelligence with a sharp mind and displayed extra ordinary boldness.Only few African leaders in the past decades can match his oratory. He was in a special class of his own and listening to him could set a man’s blood on fire.
On the scale of African political altruism, it would be in place to claim that Zimbabwe “owes” its existence to the efforts of Mr. Mugabe. On that scale, maybe, a life presidency is not too much to compensate a man who laid his life (although never lost it) for his country.He was the most educated president in the world in his days. Zimbabwe also had the highest adult literacy rate of 88% compared to the rest of Africa which stood at 64% in 2017, when he was pushed out of office.
By all standards, why should a leader with such massive education and intelligence misrule his citizens who have such enviable literacy rate, which is at per with the developed world?It brings me to the matter of greatness in African Leadership. Is it by divine joke that leaders in Africa always end up on the wrong side of history?
There is an abundance of leadership talents in Africa, no doubt. Many have actually made their way into power, full of promises and hope for the people. But, a few years of power, and their villainy seeks to outshine the devil himself.
Mr. Robert Gabriel Mugabe looked like the man that was going to challenge Africa to greatness. It was easy for anyone to see him as the answer to all the troubles of Africa.
Africa had just been rid of Idi Amin of Uganda and his embarrassing horrors, we vowed that an illiterate would never rule an inch of our continent again. We figured that a lack of education was the reason for Amin’s shameful antics. Mugabe was here, a product of a protracted struggle for freedom,  beyond the average African leader.Being close to South Africa which was then under the apartheid regime, things looked good for Africa and Mugabe was the torch of hope.
The bane of good leadership in Africa is the greed to self-perpetuate and rule with maximum powers. Even in a democracy, the quest for unlimited and unchecked authority erodes the quality of leadership. There is an insecurity that generally plagues African leaders and makes them never want to leave power.Mr. Mugabe who started with a lot of hopes for Zimbabwe and Africa ended up on the wrong side of history the moment he started craving life presidency and absolute powers.
He left Zimbabwe in ruins. He destroyed Agriculture, which was the foundation of the nation’s economy, by unwisely expelling white farmers and handing over production to an ill-trained and inexperienced group of cronies. It is in history that Zimbabweans once bought a loaf of bread for over 2 billion Zimbabwean Dollars! 
Security was in tatters except when employed to protect the President and his family. Corruption became the major driver of the economy and the nation slept and woke to serve his whims. This was the gift Robert Mugabe gave to his people.
It was quite embarrassing to see an old Mugabe struggling to stay awake in meetings or hobble along a red carpet. He was practically being carried along. Zimbabwe was crying and hiding in shame, the father of the nation rubbed in the pain and the rest of the world cringed in aghast.
That is the picture of Mugabe left in our memories. We have no reason to remember that fiery freedom fighter who stood up to Margaret Thatcher and gave Pieter Botha a lot to bother about. We can no longer remember that man that was the likeness of Che Gueverra and the symbol of African resilience.
Adieu! Mugabe, now that you are gone, we will remember you because you undoubtedly, kept us spell bound.I am leaving you, dear reader, with two of his quotes. Enjoy his humor ask yourself again, was Mugabe really great?
• I have died many times. I have actually beaten Jesus because he only died once• Interviewer: When are you bidding the people of Zimbabwe farewell?Mugabe: Where are they going?

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