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Chinyoka on Tuesday: It’s all vanity: this is not an obituary of Robert Mugabe

By Tinomudaishe Chinyoka

So, he died, Robert Gabriel Mugabe did. Kufa kuti fii, as they say where I come from. Died. It was always going to happen of course, death is certain for us all, but there are those around him that appeared at some point to think he might escape it. They were wrong.

Tinomudaishe Chinyoka
Tinomudaishe Chinyoka

The writer of Ecclesiastes had it right when he said: “People live and people die, but the earth continues forever. The sun rises and the sun goes down, and then it hurries to rise again in the same place. .. All things continue the way they have been since the beginning.

The same things will be done that have always been done. There is nothing new in this life. Someone might say, “Look, this is new,” but that thing has always been here. It was here before we were. People don’t remember what happened long ago. In the future, they will not remember what is happening now. And later, other people will not remember what the people before them did.”

The sad thing was, when it happened, there was a chance for people to be sad, but that got taken away by the blundering of a blood sucking group of people that saw his death as their chance to extract maximum benefit.

Called a murderer by those who sit ensconced in the citadels built by slavers and genocidaires, people who massacred spear wielding Africans with their maxims and hanged the few who remained, it was easy for the Pan-African to say, like one Julius Malema, wait a minute, you don’t define my heroes.

Because he spoke the language of the slavers so well, knew their manners and mannerisms, he was spared the insults reserved for Amin or Zuma, but he still was described like a mini Hitler, largely due to exaggerated numbers of those allegedly killed during his time. But, you know that people have the measure of you when even your supporters defend you by saying ‘he probably didn’t kill that many” instead of “he killed no one.”

Was he perfect? Of course not, who is?  Was he flawed? You bet, but then who isn’t? Jesus said let he who is without sin cast the first stone. Piers Morgan and Evan Mawarire and Fadzai Mahere are the best of us all: they cast no stones with their articles and comments. Merely boulders. They clearly are without sin. The allegation that they tried to capitalize on the death of this man to try and clothe themselves with our collective indignation is wholly without merit of course.

Such is the contradiction in the perceptions of the man that there will be obituaries so diametrically opposed you might think they talk about different people.

However, by far the worst people to him in death will be his family. The ghoulish attempts to use a corpse to bargain for concessions from the government lost them a lot of sympathy. The statements from ‘the immediate family’ made them transparently mercenary. 

Zhuwao and Kasukuwere talking about how he died in exile reminded us just why it was a good thing that we got rid of these people when we did.

And then the disaster that was Chidhakwa. We were reminded how nepotism got us these unknown people running our strategic ministries. And how this family felt so entitled that a whole former minister would seek to accuse the nation  of hastening his demise by removing him from office. Jonathan Moyo did his ‘gone too soon’ bit and you felt sorry.

In the end, the family overplayed their hand, until everyone just wanted it over with. In fact, barely 24 hours after the funeral that wasn’t, Zimbabweans were back to their polarization, with accusations and counter-accusations around the alleged abduction of a doctor.

Robert Gabriel Mugabe, it seems didn’t quite matter in the end. Like an extra in a play, no one quite cared how he left the stage, only that he had. No one quite got to the part of saying ‘good riddance to bad rubbish’ but, there was no one like Murisi Zwizwai offering to be buried in his stead.

That, might be his legacy. Sad, for someone who did that much good but, such is the nature of things when a family tries to blackmail a whole country over a corpse.

For in the end, that’s what he because: a mere corpse.


Tinomudaishe Chinyoka is a Harare based lawyer