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Goodbye Robert Gabriel Mugabe - Thanks and No Thanks

The former long-term leader of Zimbabwe and its founding father, Robert Gabriel Mugabe, 95, has died. He died away from his African home in a hospital in the Asian nation of Singapore, where he had been receiving medical care, since April.

With his passing, I am moved to thank him for his early Marxist ideology and leadership that inspired many Black youth across Africa and the world, his push for the founding of the Republic of Zimbabwe -  its transformation from white minority-rule and colonialism, and its development of sound health and education systems.

In contrast, I say no thanks to Mugabe for his acquired power-drunkenness  and for his betrayal of the integrity of good governance. 

Yet, humanity should be reminded that Mugabe's failings could easily be attributed to his succumbing to the sum of his experiences - being jailed for a decade without trial on a sedition charge, by South Rhodesia's white-minority government. Thus, in his latter-years of rule, Mugabe became a perpetrator of the said evil which had victimized him.

Zimbabwe, formerly Rhodesia, was a British colony from 1888 to 1980. The colonial era was marred by stark white-minority rule, especially in the period under Ian Smith. Mugabe was imprisoned for criticizing the government in 1964. Upon his release in 1974, he fled to Mozambique. His Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), of which he is a founding member, led a guerrilla war against his homeland's white minority government. 

As early as 1962, Mugabe criticized colonialism. In a speech at Salisbury he said: "Africa must revert to what it was before the imperialists divided it. these are artificial divisions which we, in our pan-African concept will seek to remove."

In other quotes, he is cited as saying: "Was it not enough punishment and suffering in history that we were uprooted and made helpless slaves not only in new colonial outposts, but also domestically." He added: "We of Africa protest that, in this day and age, we should continue to be treated as lesser human beings than other races."

Mugabe became Prime Minister of an independent Zimbabwe in 1980 and held the position until 1987, when he became President of the new Republic, a position he held until 2017, when he was ousted in a military coup. His years at the helm of Zimbabwe were 37. And in that period, a son of the soil, fierce guerrilla fighter and tough negotiator, inspired many young people with his leadership of a thriving African nation. 

However, economic woes spurred by an ill-managed land redistribution program and brute violence fueled by a thirst to retain power, transformed Mugabe into the same evil that he had suffered under the imperialists.  By the end of the 1990s, Mugabe had become a despot and a violent dictator. Zimbabwe, a once prosperous land, had become a fiefdom of the Mugabe family. Zimbabwe had become Mugabe and Mugabe had become Zimbabwe.

Before his removal from power in 2017, his betray of the tenets of good governance had become irrationally egotistical. On his 88th birthday in 2012, he quipped: "I have died many times. That's where I have beaten Christ. Christ died once and resurrected once. I have died and resurrected  and I don't know how many times I will die and resurrect."

Robert Gabriel Mugabe, 95, is now dead forever. In death and in betrayal of the integrity of good governance, Mugabe takes with him many hypotheticals that could have augur better for Zimbabweans and Africans all alike.

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