The 21st November 2017 marks a historic day in Zimbabwe. The world’s oldest president, 93 year old Robert Mugabe has resigned with immediate effect after 37 years in power. It is one of those moments that our grandchildren will one day ask us “Where were you when Robert Mugabe resigned”.
I am in Bloemfontein, at the University of the Free State. I am watching the news unfolding on TV. Mugabe is on all media channels. One of my colleagues jokes that Mugabe is everywhere, she is afraid she will find him in the fridge too.
The streets of Harare are swarming with people. There is jubilation and songs of freedom. There is unbelief that this has happened in their lifetime. People are screaming New Independence, even in the face of uncertainty about what the future holds.
Earlier in the day, a Zimbabwean colleague remarked that it doesn’t matter if a baboon or a dog steps in. At this moment, anything would be better than a lifetime under Mugabe. It was a tough and brutal journey. They are ready for change. And today Zimbabweans have gained the freedom they longed for; patiently and peacefully.
I am excited for the people of my sister country, many of whom have been forced to flee the untenable conditions into nearby countries. Many of them are well educated, but they had to learn to scramble and settle for anything that ensure their survival. They watched their country, once known as “Africa’s bread-basket”, turning into a basket case; the only country without their own currency and unemployment at 90%.
Today marks the end of an era, a turning of a new page.
I must declare that a part of me has mixed emotions. I had developed an affinity for “uncle BoB’s” smarts and eloquence. I saw him as one of the unapologetic pan-africanist who spoke uncomfortable truths to some world powers. I seldom missed an opportunity to listen to him delivering speeches at the UN General Assembly. He was at one point a revered revolutionary and visionary leader who ensured Zimbabweans had the highest literacy rate on the African continent.
Obviously somewhere along the line things went terribly wrong and it was downhill thereafter. That’s when he should have bowed out, when his legacy was still intact. Now he will be remembered as a dictator. An addiction to power never ends well.
I am glad he has bowed out or pushed out. It was long overdue. It came at high price for the people of Zimbabwe who have lost life and limb and thousands being scattered all over the world.
I am especially mindful and hopeful for the many mothers and children who have been reduced to beggars on the street corners of Johannesburg and the gifted civil servants who have had to swallow their potential and be exploited as cheap laborers. The day you have been waiting for has dawned.
May this day mark a birth of new miracles as you start the hard work of reimagining a new future and restoring “Africa’s Bread Basket” to new levels of glory. May you find your voices and life’s song again.
Long Live Zimbabwe! May God bless You!