Skip to comments.Mugabe: A life of power in Zimbabwe
Posted on 04/01/2008 3:28:57 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - Robert Gabriel Mugabe once assured Zimbabwe's fleeing whites that "there is a place for you in the sun." Now his own place in the country he has ruled for 28 years is uncertain.
Mugabe was born in 1924, the son of a village carpenter in Zvimba, 40 miles west of Zimbabwe's capital Harare. As a child, he tended his grandfather's cattle, fished for bream in muddy water holes, played football and "boxed a lot," as he recalled later.
Few blacks at the time learned to write their names. But Mugabe went to school, where he was taught by Jesuit priests. Classmates described him as shy and bookish, a loner deeply attached to his mother and resentful of his absent father, according to Heidi Holland, author of "Dinner with Mugabe."
Mugabe later became a primary school teacher himself, and taught at mission schools until he won a scholarship to all-black Fort Hare University in neighboring South Africa.
There he underwent a political baptism of sorts. He avidly studied Karl Marx. Gripped by the "passive resistance" movement of Mahatma Gandhi in India, he vowed to play a similar role in helping his own country to end British rule.
In 1951, he earned a bachelor of arts degree. It was the first of seven degrees, including one in law.
Back in Zimbabwe then known as Rhodesia Mugabe quickly became disenchanted with the white government. In 1958 he flew to Ghana, a newly independent former British colony, to teach. There he married his Ghanaian-born first wife, Sally Hayfron.
He was known as austere, a non-smoking, non-drinking Roman Catholic. Mrs. Mugabe said of her husband: "He's very warm and gentle at home. He is very fair. He will go to any limits to see that justice is done. He has never been violent for the sake of violence, though we have both struggled for our freedom."
Upon his return to Zimbabwe, Mugabe became a political activist and was jailed for 10 years by the white minority regime of Ian Smith. While in jail, his son died from malaria, and his appeal for parole to attend the funeral was denied.
When he was released, he fled into exile in neighboring Mozambique. There he became the head of a liberation movement and guerrilla army and dreamed of a one-party Marxist state.
He came to power in 1980 after a seven-year bush war for black rule, serving first as prime minister and then as president. At independence, he was hailed for his policies of racial reconciliation and development that brought education and health to millions. Zimbabwe's economy thrived, and Mugabe appealed to whites to stay in the country.
Twenty years later, many wished they hadn't.
Mugabe ordered the often-violent seizure of white-owned farms on behalf of a landless black majority. But instead, he gave the farms to black relatives, friends and cronies.
Mugabe also lost no time in establishing his absolute power. He quickly crushed political opponents, and sent North Korean-trained troops into Matabeleland to hunt down armed anti-government rebels in the 1980s. Thousands of people, mainly civilians of the minority Ndebele tribe, were killed.
Using the same draconian regulations used to keep him in jail for a decade, he put scores of political opponents in detention without trial. Zimbabwe's economy gradually fell apart, and a third of the country fled.
In 1992, Mugabe's first wife died of kidney failure. He married Grace Marufu, his former secretary, 40 years his junior. He had three children with Marufu, and was 73 when she gave birth to their third child.
Mugabe is now 84 years old. During his rule, the average life expectancy of Zimbabweans has fallen from 60 to 35 years.
"Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." - Manuel II Palelologus
A “puff piece” about Mugabe? Disgusting!
He learned the lessons on Marxism well. The class of Nassar, Pol Pot, Uncle Ho, Uncle Joe, et. al. creates a uniform people's paradise where the people can expect live to age 35 unless they complain.
You are misreading the statistics. Party leaders live into their eighties. Everyone else complains.
“Some pigs are more equal than others”, those who get “white devil medicines”.
Remember the yellow devils who were backing Mugabe until they realized they couldn’t make money with that jackass in power.
Mugabe’s greatest success in life is decimating his country, bankrupting it, and eliminating Zimbabwe as one of Africa’s most prosperous agricultural producers.
What a great legacy.
Mugabe “brought education and health to millions.” Sounds like Cuba, except for the absence of Hollywood stars showing up.
They should put his picture on the one dollar bill. It takes about 300 of them to make a U.S. penny (today).