President Robert Mugabe recently celebrated his 93rd birthday.
Happy birthday sir.
There are frequent calls for him to step down, citing him too old.. too incapable.. that he has simply been in power, too long
Queen Elizabeth is 90yrs of age
Her age... is celebrated, and rarely are there calls for her to step down.
An important factor for consideration.
Our attitudes to age may vary across continents and cultures, yet I wonder, is there an 'ideal' age, when a person should pass the leadership mantle over to someone else?.
If and when President Mugabe relinquishes power, (love him or loath him) it will be a historical moment.
It remains highly possible that President Mugabe may be celebrated far more outside of Zimbabwe, than within.
For those who have never lived directly under his leadership, he is consistently viewed, more often than not, as a liberation war hero.. a revolutionary.
Yet unlike other anti colonial revolutionaries who are celebrated worldwide, such as Patrice Lumumba Thomas Sankara Che Guevara, Steve Biko and others... President Mugabe... didn't die young.
We have lived to watch him age
We have witnessed his 'mistakes',
We have watched him age as a 'real man'.. and not just a revolutionary
Unlike those who died young... he has lived long enough to reveal his own human imperfections.
He may be a revolutionary, but he is a man.
and now... an aged man
Perhaps it would have been better to preserve his legacy, if he had stepped down earlier
In truth, not only is Mugabe not ready to let go...
but 'we'... are not ready to let go either.
You see... Mugabe reminds us not to become complacent. The strong revolutionary leader who fought and won against colonial rule... against apartheid., remains relevant.
What tends to be overlooked as time goes by, is just how obnoxious and soul crushing colonial rule was for African people, and its ongoing legacy, that African people continue to endure.
We look at the attitude and policies of a man like President Mugabe, yet gloss over the horrors which were inflicted upon African people for many years.
In Zimbabwe, the British were responsible directly and indirectly, for the suffering of many, and like Mandela, President Mugabe was once branded a terrorist.
Yet history and reflection, truth and reconciliation, will tell the real story every time.
Once upon a time, President Mugabe was not too unlike Julius Malema. (who himself has recently stated the Mugabe should step down)
Yet Mugabe remains perhaps, undoubtedly educationally superior.
I know of no other African leader, or leader anywhere with more degrees.
In truth.. without Mugabe, Zimbabwe will change, no one knows for sure whether that change will be a positive, or a negative one
I suspect that once Mugabe steps down..the vultures will descend, and the international community will no doubt show thier true intentions.
So putting aside the obvious ageism which now renders him too old... why do we need him?
Is there no other leader capable of honouring the history.. the transition from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe whilst still taking the country forward.
Maybe... maybe not
In my opinion there should be.
A great leader should always prepare well for his or her successor. rather... prepare his or her successor well.
If Mugabe has failed at anything.. perhaps it is that, yet it remains to be seen.
You see.... the thing is... men (and women) like Mugabe, were and are, a product of thier time.
It's rare to find such individuals today.
For Pan Africanists across the diaspora especially, Mugabe remains a revolutionary, a freedom fighter, in a sense, he is idealised, as a symbol of anti colonial resistance.
Without him, who do we have?
Who were [are] the greatest African leaders? [click]