Liberation has a nasty habit of disappearing overnight

Sunday November 19 2017

Protesters calling on President Robert Mugabe to resign in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabweans take to the streets in Harare demanding the resignation of President Robert Mugabe on November 18, 2017. PHOTO | AFP  

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I hope this newspaper is read in Harare or wherever Comrade Robert Gabriel Mugabe will find himself when it comes out. I only pose these questions for him to answer.

Why, Comrade Bob, oh why?

Why did you get yourself and those who believed in you into this mess that has now totally engulfed you in your old age, when you can do precious little to extricate yourself or your beloved country from the quagmire?

When I came to the Zanu HQ in a Maputo suburb in April 1979, I met you perched in your 12th floor office in a building without an elevator, alone, reading a book, and you looked and seemed to me to be a most self-effacing, even shy, gentleman of learning, do you remember?

I’d come to invite you to come to our general conference of the Pan African Youth Movement, slated for July of the same year in Brazzaville, do you remember?

Do you remember me telling you that though the youth wing of your party, Zanu, was not our member – our member being Joshua Nkomo’s ZAPU Youth – we had recognised you and your outfit as the most potent force in the Zimbabwean armed struggle?

Do you remember coming to Brazzaville and delivering a magisterial address that captured the imagination of the youth of Africa and set their blood soaring, hailing you as the liberator Zimbabwe had been waiting for all along?

Within the following year, Zimbabwe was independent, and do you remember the worldwide euphoria unleashed by that event in April 1980?

Do you remember your namesake Marley singing in Harare, “Now we’ll find out who is the real revolutionary/ Cause I don’t want my people to be tricked by mercenaries?

But then you went on to accumulate power and wealth like a spoilt child accumulates toys, didn’t you?

You were becoming more and more intolerant of your old comrades who criticised you and your despotic ways, weren’t you?

You could no longer tell the difference between enmity and criticism, could you?

You were becoming more and more isolated from fellow combatants and getting too close to new and devious hangers-on, weren’t you?

You should have known these latter for what they were, fair-weather friends, shouldn’t you?

True friends would have warned you against the false love of a gold-digging typist in your office, wouldn’t they?

But they found themselves in the wilderness, far from your seat of power, and some opted for uncomfortable exile, didn’t they?

This is one of the main reasons you were left so exposed to such dangers as your Lady Macbeth granddaughter wife, isn’t it?

I am not one to judge such liaisons on account of the age and character of a companion, am I?

I am slightly younger than you and, therefore, still susceptible to being struck by the wrong variety of Cupid’s arrow, and in these matters of the heart we are all too vulnerable, aren’t we?

But at least you could have avoided mixing matters of the heart with matters of state, couldn’t you?

When England’s Edward VIII was denied the freedom to marry his American divorcee he opted for abdication, didn’t he?

That was clearly wiser than inserting your love life right at the heart of the realm, wasn’t it?

At your age, and with all the reading you have done, you are surely aware of the phenomenon of the dreaded femme fatale, aren’t you?

Wherever you are right now, you must be able to realise that you got into the arms of the mother of all the femme fatales of the world, mustn’t you?

And a foulmouthed one she is too, isn’t she, for insulting Mnangagwa, who is at least the age of her father?

I would be the last person to mock you at this hour of your utmost discomfiture, wouldn’t I?

Your downfall is Zimbabwe’s downfall, for you embody part of the greatness of the struggle for the liberation of your country, don’t you?

We are also to a certain extent diminished, we who always supported your struggle, by this humbling experience, aren’t we?

But when all is said and done, we shall still be looking for answers to explain this most Greek of Greek tragedies, trying to figure out how this all came to be, shan’t we?

But above all, we’ll be asking you, Comrade Bob, why, won’t we?

Jenerali Ulimwengu is chairman of the board of the Raia Mwema newspaper and an advocate of the High Court in Dar es Salaam. E-mail: [email protected]