Eight months before he tendered his resignation, Robert Gabriel Mugabe, revolutionary and politician, vowed to stay in power till “God says come”.
Perhaps he knew that the end was near when he decided to pave the way for ‘Gucci’ Grace, typist turned his wife. That move was perhaps the greatest blow of his political career, for it shattered his 37-year reign.
The story of Mugabe, who spent 10 years in prison when his country was under colonial rule, did not end like independence heroes such as Nelson Mandela of South Africa and Nnamdi Azikiwe of Nigeria.
Aged 93, the world’s oldest world leader became a caricature of a dictator.
HERO OF DEMOCRACY
In 1960, he joined the Zimbabwe African Peoples Union (ZAPU), which was led by Joshua Nkomo and left in 1963 to form the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU).
He was imprisoned between 1964 and 1974 for making comments against the predominantly white government. On release, he fled to Mozambique and formed Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) and took part in the peace negotiations that marked the end of the white government.
TEACHER WHO ESCAPED FROM PRISON
While in prison, Mugabe taught his fellow prisoners English, given his earlier job as a lecturer at the Chalimbana Teacher Training College in Northern Rhodesia between 1955 and 1958. He also taught at St. Mary’s Teacher Training College, where he met Sarah Heyfron, who later became his wife in 1961.
In 1974, Ian Smith, Rhodesian prime minister at that time, allowed Mugabe to leave prison to go attend a conference in Zambia (formerly Northern Rhodesia). Mugabe instead escaped back across the border to Southern Rhodesia, assembling guerilla trainees along the way.
HOLDS SEVEN UNIVERSITY DEGREES
With seven university degrees, Mugabe, who was born to a carpenter father, is one of the most educated persons that has ever held the helm of affairs of a country across the world. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Arts and Education from the University of Fort Hare in South Africa and earned multiple graduate degrees by correspondence while he was in prison, including a Bachelor’s of science in Economics from the University of London and two other law degrees.
In 1980, Mugabe was elected the prime minister of the country newly named Zimbabwe, after a change of name from Rhodesia, on the platform of the ZANU Patriotic Front. He ruled the country as prime minister for seven years.
After a disagreement between ZAPU and ZANU in 1981, Mugabe and Nkomo agreed to merge their parties and focus on the country. The office of the prime minister was dissolved and Mugabe emerged as president.
David, a popular figure in the holy book of Christians, took his staff’s wife to become his; same occured with Mugabe.
Grace Marufu, who was married and had a son with an air force pilot, Stanley Goreraza, took a job as a secretary in the Zimbabwe state house when she started having an affair with the president.
They later got married in 1996 and her former husband continued working for the government.
Having warmed her way into his heart, Grace indicated interest in succeeding him and Emmerson Mnangagwa, former vice president, who was perceived as a stumbling block was sent out of the way.
He was accused of disloyalty and sacked on November 6. Eight days later, the military struck. The rest, as they say, is history. Mugabe wanted to die in power but the people forced him to taste life outside his comfort zone.