- Meet His Excellency President Robert Gabriel Mugabe
By Shaka Barak,
President of the Marcus Garvey Institute, Inc
Born February 21, 1924, Robert Gabriel Mugabe, in the Zvimba District northwest of Salisbury in Southern Rhodesia to a Malawian father Gabriel Matibili and a Shona mother Bona, grew into a highly intelligent, articulate, aggressive, self-disciplined, with a serious demeanor, as a lover of books and reading, dark and handsome, and a non-drinker, and a non-smoker. He could easily teach a class ranging from Christianity to Socialism. However, his love for Zimbabwe, made Robert Gabriel Mugabe, destined to become, the greatest revolutionary freedom fighter in the 21st ‘century.
In what was called Rhodesia, named after Cecil John Rhodes, (July 5, 1853- March 26, 1902), the British ruthless despot, Prime Minister Ian Smith (April 8, 1919- November 20, 2007), was determined in 1965, to prevent the tide of African Nationalism, promoted by Marcus Garvey and his Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League, (UNIA & ACL) from 1914- 1940, that was sweeping through Africa and forcing Britain, Portugal, Spain, Belgium, and France to turn over their colonies to African rulers, to also happen to Rhodesia. Mugabe’s justified distrust of whites in his country and rulers like Ian Smith, was hardened while he was in Que Que prison, because of his organizing for the liberation of Zimbabwe as Secretary General of ZANU-PF.
To give the reader an understanding of the mind set European colonizers had towards conquered people, in an inaugural address, at Oxford, art critic, John Ruskin summed up the thoughts of most who have dominated and oppressed the weak in the interest of Britain’s expansion in Africa. “There is a destiny now possible to us, the highest ever set before a nation…We are still undegenerated in race; a race mingled of the best northern blood…Will our youth of England make our country again a royal throne of Kings, a sceptered isle, for all the world a source of light, a centre of peace? …This is what England must either do or perish: she must found colonies as fast and as far as she is able, formed of her most energetic and worthiest men; seizing every piece of fruitful waste ground she can set her foot on, and there teaching her colonist that their first aim is on a distant plot of land, they are no more to consider themselves therefore disfranchised from their native land than the sailors of her fleets do, because they float on distant seas.” Cecil Rhodes became a multi-millionaire off South Africa’s diamonds, produced through brutal exploitation of Africans, through a forced labor system, which led him to become the most successful adventurer, trader, and scoundrel involved in the European “scramble for Africa. Rhodes efforts eventually led to whites mining, diamonds, cooper, tungsten, chrome, zinc, antimony, asbestos and coal. Through forced labor, that was backed by laws that established the inferior status of Africans, white farmers had a high standard of living, as they often planted and sold tobacco to Britain. The Land Appointment Act of 1930, and The Industrial Conciliation Act of 1934, was set up so that it was illegal for Africans to rent or own property in the greater part of the country, and prevented Africans from being considered employees as they sought employment, respectively. These privileged whites owned over 70% of the land that saw many individually owning 50 acres, 500, acres, 5,000 acres, and 50,000 acres.
Mugabe, literate and knowledgeable about Europeans, was opposed to any discussion about negotiations, that would leave the pro-Nazi, apartheid styled, white society in tact after the revolution. Unlike his counter parts Seretse Khama of Botswana, Samora Machel in neighboring Mozambique, and Kenneth Kunda in neighboring Zambia, Mugabe felt that only revolutionary armed struggle was the ultimate solution for establishing a new society. Mugabe told his mother Bona, “I am going to war, whether I shall return or not.”
Mugabe was just as opposed to an alliance with the other political parties in Zimbabwe, such as Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU, headed by Joshua Nkomo. To carry out his vision, ZANU-PF Secretary General, from 1975, after his escape and flight to exile, Mugabe was secretly training ZANU’s guerilla army Zanla, based in neighboring Mozambique. By 1977 he had gained control of the Guerilla campaign that would overthrow the criminal Ian Smith regime, and give ZANU a better position to dictate terms as it sought to have Smith tried and shot, and the whites exploiters made to turn every acre of land back over to the Africans.
Ian Smith had security forces that attacked Africans or any of his opponents and civilians by abductions, torture, and murder. It has been substantiated that Smith used biological warfare against the Mozambican people by poisoning their cattle with anthrax, similar to how the white invaders of North America killed off the buffalo that was used by the Native American for food, clothing, building of homes, weapons etc. Then they employed small pox and other diseases from Europe that the Native Americans immune systems could not fend off. Ian Smith determination to stop the spread of African nationalism spread death and destruction. As a dedicated Pan Africanist, the undeterred Mugabe, by 1979, had spread the guerrilla movement to every rural area of Rhodesia. Main roads and main railroads were under frequent attacks by Zanla. Out of fear the privileged white farmers armed and barricaded themselves in their fortified homes.
On January 27, 1980, when Mugabe returned home to Salisbury, Rhodesia, it was to a heroes’ welcome larger than any that had ever been seen in Rhodesia. However, leaders from his border states, that had allowed Mugabe to use their border states to establish rear bases and to run their supply lines, had cautioned him to run the ZANU-PF campaign speaking in terms of moderation, denying, retaliation, and nationalization of the industries.
During the elections the white Governor of Rhodesia, Christopher Soames was tempted by the prodding of the opposition to disqualify, ZANU-Pf, when the facts clearly showed that there was intimidation being used by all the parties, including the Rhodesian Security Forces, the Muzorewa auxiliaries of his United African National Congress and Nkomo’s Zapu. There were two assassination attempts on Mugabe’s life, to remove him as a candidate, after the failure to thwart his campaign, disqualify Zanu, that he barely escaped. Overall the ruling was that the election was fair and free. Governor Soames in all honesty, believed that Mugabe’s ZANU-PF would have won the election as he did, with an overwhelming majority 63% of the national vote, with or without a fair election. The Shona from which Mugabe springs was 82 % of the population compared to 14% the MDI opposition sprang from. Soames was concerned that the Rhodesia security forces might stage a coup, if they feared Mugabe would carry out his Marxist plans of retribution against Smith and the other exploiting white farmers.
Research allows us to see that all the land whites settlers occupied, from farmers to Christian missions was from dispossessing the local population, as part of Cecil Rhodes goal since 1890, of looking for gold and extending the British Empire, through his privately held company, the British South Africa Company. Many African lives were lost during that civil war, to keep white in privilege, especially the young Zimbabwean soldiers. After the fair and free elections, there was constant plotting to overthrow Mugabe’s administration, and to sabotage the economy. Mugabe’s enemies came from Britain, the west and from at home by blacks and whites in the region. On April 8, 1980 Zimbabwe was independent.
The soldiers or veterans deserved their share of the victory, which is the land that they fought for, and that the majority of it still remained in the hands of whites. Research shows that the peasants were thankful to Mugabe for an attempt at an equitable redistribution of the land, which efforts spilled over to equity in the factories, businesses, offices, aid offices, police and into the embassies. Whites on the other hand were furious and even today the 89 year old Mugabe strikes fear in the hearts of whites, who they thought once elected, he would allow business to go on as usual, blacks on the bottom, white on top. They thought Mugabe would rebuild Zimbabwe along the British political and economic model. In choosing which way to go, Mugabe chose the way that would benefit the people as he brought to an end the British Empires last colony.