The Sunday Mail
Early Friday morning, the world woke up to the news of the death of Zimbabwe’s founding leader, Cde Robert Gabriel Mugabe in Singapore.
While death is a reality of life that awaits us all, it always comes like a thief when we least expect it.
Despite being gifted with a long life; the hope is always that Cde Mugabe could have been granted more life and probably reach the 100-year mark as was his wish.
But, we are mere mortals and we know not the day or the time. However, in the case of Cde Mugabe, instead of mourning, we celebrate a life well lived.
A life of an African icon, who changed the course of history not only in Zimbabwe but the world.
Having been exposed to the brutal vagaries of white minority rule that treated Africans as sub-humans, Cde Mugabe became politically conscious at a young age.
His political consciousness was further heightened by his stay in African ruled Ghana under Kwame Nkrumah.
It was after his experience in Ghana that the young erudite intellectual decided to come back home, where he joined fellow compatriots in fighting to dislodge colonial rule.
From then on, he never looked back despite the personal costs to his life, his wife and family.
He endured constant harassment, persecution and imprisonment.
Cde Mugabe was to eventually lead a protracted armed struggle alongside the late Father Zimbabwe Dr Joshua Nkomo culminating in the birth of a new independent Zimbabwe in 1980.
Just like Julius Nyerere, Samora Machel and Kwame Nkrumah, Mugabe understood that the independence of Zimbabwe would be meaningless without the freedom of other countries like Namibia and South Africa.
His quest for African unity was a lifelong resolve. But more importantly, he believed that independence would be meaningless without economic empowerment.
His championing of an equitable land reform programme remains an integral part of his enduring legacy.
Bob — as we affectionately called him was our manhood, our living, our black manhood.
We applaud the revolutionary Zanu-PF party and Government in according him the highest honour of a National Hero. In honouring him, we pay respect to the best in ourselves.
As we await to entrust his mortal remains to mother earth at the National Heroes Acre, we are gratified in the knowledge that, what is to be placed in the soil is more than just a mere man but a seed — which after the winter of discontent, will come forth again to inspire us.
We hope that even those who wish to write him out of history will one day know him for what he was — an African hero — our own black shining liberator — who did not hesitate to die for the freedom of the black man.
It is not in the memory of man that his nation found a braver, gallant champion of freedom — who until his demise the West failed to vanquish.
And to those who want to arrogate themselves the duty to define him for us, we say to them “we know our heroes”.
Indeed, as Ossie Davis said in a eulogy to Malcolm X; “Many will say turn away — away from this man, for he is not a man but a demon, a monster, a subverted. But, we will say to them: Did you ever talk to (Bob)” Did you even touch him, or have him smile at you? For if he did, you would know him. And if you knew him, you would know why we must honour him.”
For us, as Africans, just like what Amilcar Cabral said at the funeral of Kwame Nkrumah in Conakry, Guinea, in 1972, “the best way to pay homage to (our hero) and his immortal memory, is to reinforce our vigilance in all fields of the struggle.”
As Africans, we are certain that framed by the eternal green of the African forests, flowers of crimson like the blood of martyrs and of gold like the harvests of plenty will bloom over the grave of Cde Mugabe and Africa will definitely triumph.
We pay homage to an avowed pan-Africanist, a tireless combatant of African unity and an ardent enemy of neocolonialism in Africa and elsewhere.