By Maggie Mzumara
A melting pot my heart is. My whole being in fact.
A simmering cauldron of unlikely concoctions – concotions of mixed emotions; potpourri of feelings; a mish mash of thoughts; and a cocktail of memories – all brewing in my being on this, the occasion of the death of one, Robert Gabriel Mugabe. His Excellency, our former president.
Eish. Goodness, I am so conflicted where this man is concerned. My sentiments are all kinds of mixed and am having a hard time navigating them to sift through what it is exactly I feel.
There is a sadness that permeates deep inside of me over the death, the loss of this man. Oh, how we will never see him again. How we will never hear him enunciating the ‘dreaded’ white man’s language with oratorical prowess second to none else in government in the history of Zimbabwe. How he is gone from us – all of us friends and foe alike, supporters and detractors alike – forever.
It saddens. Indeed a considerable amount of sadness becomes me.
Yet there too, in the same being of me, is also this anger. Molten searing anger pervading all of that sadness and charring it in its wake. Anger over those whose deaths are linked to him, those still missing whose lives have not been accounted for. Anger over what this country has lost in both people power and economic power. For many if not most of us. Anger over years I lost, dreams deferred, and a future denied. Opportunities squandered, fortunes made and unmade, fortunes which evaporated in the volatility of a scorching economy as a result of executive mismanagement, graft and corruption.
Hovering high above me like a halo and yet connected to me by twine-thin but however strong and formidable strings are tinges of admiration for the icon Africa admired and who stood up to white and western power… an illustrious and gallant son of the soil who defiantly asserted and rigidly installed our blackness, black power and black pride alongside white power and privilege.
Oh how as black people we basked in his glorification and personification of blackness. Never ever did we feel more powerful as a race, people and nation than after his black-aggrandizing and black power posturing speeches.
My mind wants to surrender and admire the unbending ideological stance and give in, in awe, to the principled stamina of our former President… but … but my heart bleeds when I look around me… at how as citizens we have been impoverished and pauperised… left scrounging, literally scrounging, for our daily bread. And the anger wades in stronger… rises and ebbs…firms up and solidifies even as it gives way to a flow of frustration. A frustration that, in the end, he got away with it all.
Never had to stand in the dock… never had to account… never once apologised. Where is the justice in all of that? And fairness??
Never once took responsibility of the deterioration and neglect of the country.
The disdain and insensitive arrogance that oozed out of him, year in year out for the last half of his 37-year-long reign. The blind and vaulting ambition that buoyed him on even as age frailed him in the twilight of his years ( To think he still wanted to run for the presidency in 2018 at the overly ripe age of 94). The sense of entitlement. Treated us like we owed him power and allegiance, election wins and the presidency. And allegedly killed and maimed when he didnt get his way.
We owed him?
What about what he owed us the citizens…?
Civil and political liberties, police protection, social safety nets, decent livelihoods, decent employment and other socio-economic rights… and… and…and, the list is long.
Yet the sadness insists on in my heart. For a loss it still is. A loss amongst us. We have lost. Lost the Despot. With him The Liberator, The Nationalist and great Educationist are gone too.
The ruthless machiavellian ruler, the master manipulator has gone together with the statesman who made us proud once and unceasingly put us on the map for all of it – the good, the bad and the ugly.
The good, the bad and the ugly was all lost when in the early morning of Friday 6 September 2019, he breathed his last.
We have lost the eloquence, but didnt we also lose our national resources and coffers, our chances and opportunities, comfort, standards of living and livelihoods with this man? This great man?
The man who wouldn’t die when many wished him to, but did when the wish was no more.
I am so conflicted…Sir Mugabe Sir, There are some things you gave us, and gave us tremendously and this we cannot deny. We can never take that away from you even if we tried. But you Sir, you Comrade Sir, also stole from us. You robbed us, Gushungo!
Gushungo you gave with the right hand and took with your left.
You gave us on the day before and the following day you took it back… you gave yesterday and the morrow you took back… more than you had given.
I look at my past and see a past (and promised future) you gave us, as youngsters and beyond enjoying free education at primary school; and broader opportunities of higher learning at the polytechnics and universities you established en masse; going to clinics you ensured were built in each of our townships and suburbs… I look at all that past and revel in it with joy and thankfulness. But behold I take a glance ahead. And glimpse at a future you ‘stole’ from me… From us. Millions of us. A future that has been stalled, if not forever altered. Thanks to you Sir.
You gave us a past but took away, withheld and delayed our future.
As for the present – in the present that is all hollowed out of opportunities and yesteryear glory- I wonder how we will make it all right again… as a nation. Restoration is still distant and not yet in sight. No, not in the foreseeable future, it isnt. Not yet.
Picking up after you has been all we have been doing since November 2017 when you were ousted. Your destruction outlives you Sir. It shall trail on after you long after your bones dry out and decay.
Of course your name shall always reverberate and echo in the corridors of history.
As will the pain and agony you caused.
Yet I shall miss you.
I shall miss you Gushungo Sir. And yes I do mourn for you. As I mourn your death, however, I mourn also what I lost because of you. I cannot seperate the two, for both have you in common. As I cry for you I cry too for the both of us… your loss and the state of my life and my children’s and neighbours lives because of you.
The state of our country, the state of our roads. We have no currency, we have no gold reserves, we have no electricity, no water, fuel or medicines because of you and your cronies’ policies and actions or lack thereof.
You Sir, robbed us.
You gave but you also took.
I mourn for you and I mourn for us all.
I cry my beloved dictator.
Somewhere amongst it all, in all the memories of you, I shall laugh too. Laugh at the way you brazenly insulted real and perceived enemies… the dry jokes you cracked sometimes… with real coarse humour you did, Sir… The wit. The old wily fox, I used to think of you as such.
So yes l shall laugh too, but not with real mirth. Many of us have been too hollowed out for mirth. So, no, not with real mirth, but with a resigned sadness.
Above all, after all is said and done, I grudgingly admit: you were a great man.
I cry our beloved nationalist. Go well Sir.
Though some amongst us may struggle to forgive you for the crimes and wrongs attributed to you I pray that our Good Lord forgives you and that in your days, at least the last ones, you set things right with the Almighty.
All the same Fare thee well.
May Your Dear Soul Rest in Eternal Peace and Power.
Maggie Mzumara is a Media and Communication Consultant. She writes in her capacity as a Socio-political commentator.