Does Simon Bright understand Mugabe?


THE 13th edition of the Encounters South African International Documentary Festival will be held in Cape Town and Johannesburg from June 9 to 26 this year, The Patriot has established. Zimbabwean Simon Bright, producer of the hit 1996 film Flame, has been billed for the opening night for his 80-minute biographic documentary Whatever Happened to Robert Mugabe. The biographic documentary is one of many biographies that have been written about President Robert Mugabe. Almost all biographies of the man have been written by whites who, in an effort to understand him, have sought to psycho-analyse him. Bright joins the bandwagon of many white Rhodesians like Peter Godwin who seek to explain a man whose culture they do not fully understand. Most of these ‘white Africans’ focus their stories on him and do not attempt to analyse the social factors that make an individual and the hero that he is in Africa. And for obvious reasons, their omission could be that they will have to admit that their forefathers were a big factor to his nationalistic stance which has seen him become a hero across Africa. To define President Mugabe through the stance he took on the land reform is an injustice and to use the Lancaster House Agreement is even a greater injustice because the reason for the guerrilla war was nothing else, but the land. History itself will tell that the land issue actually began in the 1800s in Zimbabwe. The Lancaster House Agreement took three months and nearly collapsed due to the disagreements over land. The willing-buyer and willing-seller clause was unjust to the liberators whose forefathers had not been given that choice and yet at that point their white descendants were given a choice to sell land which they had stolen from Zimbabweans, but still these writers turn a blind eye to the issue. The issue that makes President Mugabe the object of Western criticism is why he decided to embark on the revolutionary land reform programme in year 2000. The land is the only symbol of power and the black majority were blinded into believing that they could not manage to do what the white man could do. The black man’s role was that of labour. Henning Mankell, a Swedish writer, who claims he is no fan of President Mugabe, says white farmers should shoulder the blame for the President’s stance on land. In an article, Mankell said history showed that the white farmers at the beginning of the 1980s should also take responsibility and blame for what really happened on the land issue in Zimbabwe. Though the festival in South Africa will showcase various films and documentaries, it remains to be seen if white people like Godwin and Bright will ever understand President Robert Mugabe.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here