Heroes of the struggle for independence or brutal autocrat? What image will the former Zimbabwean president leave on September 6?
Robert Mugabe missed his exit. The president with a thousand masks, the key actor of the pan-African scene, whose name remains intimately mixed with that of his country, is dead alone, far from home, the 6 september.
In this clinic in Singapore where, at 95 years, he had become accustomed to heal his prostate cancer, he still heard the howls of joy that had invaded the streets of Harare at the announcement of his forced resignation, in November 2017? He was no more than an old man clinging desperately to an armchair on which he could not even go up alone. The autocrat who had used violence so much was no longer afraid. The insatiable provocateur was no longer smiling.
Thirty-seven years after coming to power, he seemed far away the hero of independence, the prisoner of white power prisons of Ian Smith, the Rhodesia bush fighter, courage and revolver clinging to his belt. The liberator leaves a country on his knees, delivered to the hands of his former lieutenants, foremost among them his former vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa. After the hour of the tributes will come the one of the accounts. The historian Achille Mbembe delivers, from South Africa where he is installed, his eyes on the last of the fathers of African independence, between liberator and dictator, the boy from Kutuma to "Comrade Bob".
Young Africa: Liberator or dictator, what Robert Mugabe history will she remember?
Achille Mbembe: Robert Mugabe was a man with many faces. He has been a great fighter, and his contribution to liberation struggles is indelible. He is also the one who presided over the economic and moral collapse of his country. These faces are closely related, because there is a point on which it has been constant. Throughout his life, Robert Mugabe believed in violence. For him, it was inseparable from politics.
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