Harare (New Ziana) – In a moving show of camaraderie, current and former Heads of State from across Africa descended on Harare on Saturday to bid farewell to one of Africa’s illustrious sons, former President Robert Mugabe.
Mugabe died in Singapore last Friday at the age of 95 after a long and decorated political career spanning decades.
The man, affectionately known as Gushungo (his totem), left behind a rich legacy of selfless dedication to the country and continent.
It is this legacy that drove several sitting Heads of State including Equatorial Guinea’s Teodoro Obiang Nguema, South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa, Mozambique’s Filipe Nyusi, Namibia’s Hage Geingob, Zambia’s Edgar Lungu and Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta to flock to Harare for a special funeral service for the late Mugabe held at the National Sports Stadium.
Former Heads of State present included, the DRC’s Joseph Kabila, South Africa’s Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma, Mozambique’s Joachim Chisano, Namibia’s Sam Nujoma, Zambia’s Rupiah Banda and the equally iconic Kenneth Kaunda.
Kaunda’s presence was an emotional affair, considering that he and Mugabe were the last two remaining leaders of their generation, and the raw emotion was displayed when the founding father of independent Zambia stood over Mugabe’s casket visibly distraught while saying inaudible words to his departed comrade during the body viewing session.
Mugabe’s personal friend Equatorial Guinea leader Teodoro Obiang Nguema led the eulogies, paying a glowing tribute to the man he cherished as a dear comrade and friend.
“It with profound sorrow and consternation that we express our condolence here today and that of the people of Equatorial Guinea to you all for the death of a great leader Cde Robert Gabriel Mugabe,” he said through a translator.
He said Mugabe was a true African icon who played an immense role in the liberation of the African continent and in the fight against neo-colonialism.
Nguema said his friend was a strong defender of the sovereign rights of the people of Zimbabwe while his great Pan-Africanist ideas placed him amongst a long list of other great African leaders including South Africa’s Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela, Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah and Mozambique’s Samora Machel.
“Indeed the whole of the African continent in general and particularly the people of Zimbabwe have just lost a contemporary leader of this millennium, a true defender of freedom and independence of human dignity all over the world,” he said.
“We also express our complete support and solidarity to the people and government of Zimbabwe and the Zanu PF political party for this great recognition which is being rendered here today which expresses and will give a lasting sense of immortality to the leadership status and policies of President Mugabe whose ideas should be preserved by the entire African continent.”
As a sign of their close relationship, Nguema visited former President Mugabe in Singapore en-route home from Japan only a few days before he died.
Kenyan leader Kenyatta, who declared three days of national mourning following the death of Mugabe, said he had made the journey to Harare to bid farewell and to celebrate the life of an African liberation icon.
He described Mugabe as the embodiment of the Pan-African spirit, an Intellectual giant who was firm and steadfast on issues regarding Africa’s quest to economically emancipate herself.
“He was a visionary leader, and relentless champion of African dignity, the late president Mugabe has left an indelible mark in the history of Zimbabwe and the African continent at large through his political astuteness and zeal for the economic and political liberation of Africa,” Kenyatta said.
“The onus is now on us to keep the hope alive, and deliver on the dream of a truly free and prosperous Africa, that is the most befitting tribute we can pay to the departed African statesman.”
Speaker after speaker, spoke glowingly of Mugabe’s rich legacy and extolled him for the leadership he provided in Africa’s quest to liberate itself from colonial rule.
“He was a committed Pan-Africanist unwavering in his belief and destiny and fortune for Africa above all, we are all clear he was an African hero,” South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said.
“We would like to thank President Mugabe and the people of Zimbabwe for the contribution they made to our struggle, we remember that with respect.”
Tanzania, represented by its Vice President also took time to honour former President Mugabe.
“Tanzania stands by you during this time of great loss, be assured that your loss is our loss and your pain is our pain. President Mugabe valiantly led the Zanu PF movement towards the emancipation of the people of Zimbabwe.”
Former Namibian President Sam Nujoma said; “There was an oppressor, Ian Smith who pledged at one point that there would be no independence in Zimbabwe not even in his lifetime but comrade Mugabe and the Zanu PF combatants engaged this man and defeated him in the battle field today we are all happy.”
Beyond Africa, other countries represented included Cuba, Russia and China who sent high ranking officials to honour Mugabe.
The late former President will be buried at the National Heroes Acre is a special mausoleum at a date to be announced.