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Chinyoka on Tuesday: Letter to ‘The Family’

By Tinomudaishe Chinyoka

To: The Family

First of all, nematambudziko.

There will be time to write obituaries for the departed, but it is too early. So contradictory was the life and legacy of your relative that one must get past the anger stage and then perhaps write a balanced view. Such is what it is.

Tinomudaishe Chinyoka
Tinomudaishe Chinyoka

What has prompted me to write this letter is not so much the passing of your relative. It is rather the passing of former President Robert Gabriel Mugabe. Yes, I know that to you it feels like this is the same person, but it really isn’t.

To you, I would never suggest that your grief is not sincere. From you, a father, a husband, and uncle, a mukwasha, a tezvara and, yes, a benefactor has been taken away. Your grieving would therefore be sincere.

 Notice that I say would, not is. Because I quite simply do now know. So I will not speculate.

But, my confusion is not without foundation. Rather, it comes from the cacophony of messages coming from “the family” about the passing of our former President and your relative.

You see, I really think that you have been talking more than you have been grieving. Stop it!

One of you, a fugitive from justice no less, claims that our former President was at home until a week before he passed. Now, since home is Zimbabwe and we know from our current President that your relative was not in Zimbabwe, where is home? So you have chosen the occasion of Robert Gabriel Mugabe’s death to confirm that he really did own a home in Singapore?

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Secondly, the same fugitive claims that our former President left a legacy of state of the art health care in Zimbabwe. Surely if that was the case, he wouldn’t have needed to go to KuSingaporwe for his hospital needs.

Since you all came into his life fairly recently, you can be forgiven for not knowing our former President as well as we do, so please allow me to help you briefly, without preempting the obituary.

Robert Gabriel Mugabe has left a legacy of a nation of highly educated people fully equipped to take this country where it needs to be thanks to his education policies, once we get out of the hole we are in.

He has left a legacy of a majority proud Africans who do not think that the sun shines out of the be***nds of the races from the West.

He has left a legacy of probably the highest percentage of black land ownership. When you see the West falling over each other to vilify the man in his death, it is because they know history will be kind to the man, and they want to set the narrative to avoid that.

Then there is this nonsense about your relative being owed an apology and not wanting to be buried at the National Heroes Acre. I sincerely hope that you have been misquoted.

Do you remember what he said when Cde Edgar Tekere died? I don’t blame you if you don’t, not sure that you had joined his life then. The gist of it however is that the dead do not decide where they are buried.

Yes, to you he might have been a father or uncle or husband or cuckold. But to the nation he was the founding father, warts and all. Do you know those airplanes you bought, the cars you imported even without jobs, the farms you own, the orphanages you ran, the dams you took over, the places you lived and the houses you bought in all the nice places including the home in Singapore? All that is your compensation for the inconvenience of sharing your relative with the nation of Zimbabwe.

The country having given you your dues for this inconvenience, you cannot now claim exclusive rights over him. You cannot seem to privatize the man in death when you enjoyed the unearned benefits that come with your sacrifices of sharing him. You cannot seek to privatize him now just because you led him astray towards the end. That is on you.

The people of Zimbabwe are renowned if their patience. Please, don’t mistake it for stupidity. There is a generation that thinks you got off easy. That there must have been an accounting and recompense. That generation will not stand idly by and watch while you try and humiliate our current President in order to either extort more concessions from him or simply abuse his long suffering heart.

There are many people buried at the National Heroes Acre who risked their lives during the fight for our independence at the say so of your relative. Many soldiers who died while on duty following his orders. To suggest that just because he is your relative he must betray even in death everything their sacrifices wrought is very misguided.

You are likely grieving, so it is understood. However, in our grief, let’s avoid inspiring the ire of those that think you got away with too much. You don’t want to open that door: because those that aren’t as forgiving as our current President are very young. Even 2050 tinenge tichiripo.

Just saying.


Tinomudaishe Chinyoka is a Harare based lawyer