As He Goes to Meet His Maker, Let Us Remember Robert Mugabe, and Some of Africa’s Notorious Tyrants, thusly…
Africa Forum Comment
by Chin Ce
There was mild euphoria in 2017 over the exit of Robert Mugabe from the commanding heights of Zimbabwean corporate nationhood but we had reminded Zimbabweans and, indeed, Africans that the emergence of one probable tyrant Mnangagwa in replacement of the known tyrant Mugabe was merely scratching the surface of the issue.
Over thirty years ago Robert Mugabe was the celebrated hero of the Zimbabwean nation and of the ultimate Southern liberation promise.
In 1987 while the Apartheid regime in South Africa continued to play pariah politics with human rights violation, Zimbabwe under the promising Mugabe played host to a joint world creative artistes’ festival tagged Graceland.
The African Concert saw the participation of world class South African performers like Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masakela and Ladysmith Black Mambazo singing defiantly along with the great American singer and song writer Paul Simon and calling to “Bring Back Nelson Mandela, Bring Him Back Home to Soweto!’ Everywhere then in the capital city of Harare, life size portraits of the first and only Zimbabwean president made such a royal spectacle urging all Zimbabweans: LET US RALLY BEHIND OUR AUTHENTIC AND CONSISTENT LEADER Cde. RG MUGABE. This was in the heydays of Mugabe’s popularity.
The memorable concert of liberty was second only to the historic independence festival of Zimbabwe. 1980 saw the immortal Bob Marley and the Wailers band at the newly independent southern African nation where the rallying cry for African unity rang high and glorious with imperishable lyrics of ‘Zimbabwe’, and ‘Africa Unite.’ Bob Marley sang to the great hope rising from within that beloved nation of the ancient kingdom of Matabeleland.
Sadly the entire dream soon turned to a mirage with the passage of time. By 2015 Mugabe had gone on to become the world’s dotard, sit-tight head of state, rivalling or beating his cohorts in Gaddafi’s Libya, Moi’s Kenya, Banda’s Malawi and Museveni’s Uganda some of whom had preferred to die as supreme leader rather than abdicate the throne that had become their divine mandate as of medieval European kingship institutions.
It had taken just nearly forty years for the loud mouth to preside over the retardation of Zimbabwe and the stupefaction of a continent, quite in the manner of other political tyrants before him. Like Napoleon Bonaparte of post-revolutionary France, he had joined the path toed by barbarian emperors.
By the August of 2017, Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader was about the only voice crying out in the wilderness of national dam nation, expressing genuine shock and total disappointment over the new decision by government to declare President Robert Mugabe’s birthday a holiday. Yet here was a man who had ridden upon the absolute trust and goodwill of his people, beginning as a courageous liberator and representative of the soul of African freedom and dignity.
Africa: Draco Deception as Paradigm
In his presidential acceptance speech of 25th November 2017 Emerson Mnangagwa started out in the tradition of the emerging African hero with the assertion of being ‘humbled by the decision of my Party Zanu-PF, inviting me to serve our great nation…’
Nonetheless we had warned that Mnangagwa is not a humble leader being called upon to lead. He had been part of the chicanery and idolatry by the ruling party. And Zimbabwe is not a great nation either. It never had been great under the Zanu-PF.
On the contrary Zimbabwe’s once famed but now notorious ruling party, Zanu-PF continued to rob and pauperise that tiny southern African nation with the endemic corruption and power wrangling that surpassed the eighteen years of PDP-APC-induced democratic misery in Nigeria, and the persistent disgraceful dance of corruption and graft in the ANC government regrettably soon after the great Madiba left office to the younger draconian blacks in power.
Zimbabwe today is firmly in the teeth of Mnangagwa the Crocodile whose antecedents, we had feared, would prove far more bestial, far more reprehensible than the dotard, especially considering the hasty pardon and political pampering of the greedy dictator who left unemployment at a whooping ninety three percent in that country.
Like Zimbabwe, like Nigeria, and all over Africa, Protectionism is the word, where it is anathema to call past leaders to account for their misdeeds in power. Mugabe went away with all his loot, while the political machinery positioned another strongman who declared. ‘I am required to serve our country as the president of all citizens, regardless of colour, creed, region, tribe, totem, or political affiliation.’
But Africa and the world must nonetheless remain watchful.
It is in the nature of all petty tyrants to avow messianic universalism only to serve back-hand strokes of deception in the process.
Paul Biya: He is still on the rampage in Cameroon muscling and murdering Anglophone dissenters of his interminable Francophone tyranny in that country.
Yoweri Museveni: This stereotype revolutionary dictator who proved worse than Idi Amin and Milton Obote before him is currently hounding popular young opposition actors in his futile delusion of ruling Uganda till the death and thereafter.
Muhammadu Buhari: Most thinking Nigerians will never forget in a haste their current pretender to reform who on his inauguration in 2015 had averred ‘I belong to nobody; I belong to everybody’. Barely months after this promise the same president went on to fill the nation’s cabinet and security forces with Islamists of northern entrenchment, family members and sycophants, thereby earning for himself the inglorious nepotist among the Hypocrites of Nigerian unity.
Nigeria has led the shame of continental retardation with her retinue living and dead tyrants and political murderers. From Ibrahim Babangida through Sani Abacha and Olusegun Obasanjo none of these swindlers of the African dream has been held to account. Why some streets in Nigeria’s cities are still named after the monsters that presided over the liquidation of the economy and executed uncountable members of opposition remains an African malaise. Sani Abacha ought to have been shamed posthumously and stripped of ranks for the infamy of mindless looting he brought upon Nigeria. Babangida, Obasanjo, Abdulkarim Abubakar are all bent with age, celebrating and perpetuating the rot they bequeathed to the bulbous giant of Africa.
So What Lessons For Africans?
Let all Africans learn to hold their leaders to account. The endemic rot of Nigeria’s ruling parties, the shame and disgrace of South Africa’s ANC, the mendacity of Museveni ruling Uganda since 1986 and averring to rise from the grave after death to continue his rape of his conclave, are being sustained by the unthinking complicity of African masses whose lack of discernment has perpetuated the herd instinct that allows for every tyrant to be eulogised and deified just for the sake of a crumb from the table of the psychopath.
Or for the grand folly that the emperor sitting astride the bamboo table is one among their own –borrowing the words of the ebullient Nigerian writer TM Aluko– kinsmen and foremen.
Chin Ce had sent this short piece from his country home in South East Nigeria