THE funny story of how President Mugabe’s jacket disappeared under mysteriously circumstances at Villa Catandika in Mozambique in 1975 after he had fled Rhodesia together with Cde Edgar Tekere has been told many times before. I was there at the base. We were not many, about 50, when Cde Mugabe and Cde Tekere (Two Boy) arrived. Chief Tangwena brought them to Catandika. We had been there for several months and the initial and inevitable disillusionment about the war had already crept in. We had come with a clear, swift and precise process in mind: cross the border, get trained, come back home and fight. What could be complicated about that? If anybody put a timeframe to it, three months was the longest it could take. Now two months into Mozambique and nothing had even started to happen! Their arrival was the first big thing that happened and we were excited. The days trudged into weeks then months and still nothing happened. Each morning, Robert Mugabe moved along a path on the edge of the base with his hands clasped at his back as if he was praying. If Kenneth Kaunda, John Vorster, Joshua Nkomo, Ndabaningi Sithole and Ian Smith could hold the conference on the bridge at Victoria Falls without Robert Mugabe, then we were damned. Nobody cared we existed. The disillusionment returned, but Cde Mugabe tried to keep our spirits high by assuring us we would be going to Tanzania soon for military training. It was in those circumstances of nowhereness that his jacket disappeared. It disappeared one day from the ‘posto’ he shared with Two Boy and somehow, we all knew what must have happened to it. In the circumstances of feeling so hopeless, most of us stayed high on marijuana that we bought from the surrounding ‘aldeamentos’. Because we did not have any money, we bartered our clothes for the drug. The situation became tragic when you saw, for instance, someone walking barefoot because they had exchanged their pair of shoes for marijuana, it happened. I remember Cde Mugabe’s passionate appeal one morning as we sat around a fire holding our shirts over the flames to kill the festering lice. He said we should stop destroying ourselves. The circumstances are not exactly clear, but what we know is that the day the jacket disappeared, Two Boy and two comrades disappeared from the camp early in the morning and did not come back until late in the afternoon. When they eventual came back, we heard them sing from a distance, singing revolutionary songs and Two Boy’s booming voice was blazing the lead. There was nothing peculiar about singing revolutionary songs because we sang a lot to kill the boredom. In fact, some of the popular songs that we sing today were composed there; songs like Panyika Nyoro. It was the way they sang and danced that showed we were witnessing cases of extreme drunkenness. There was an illicit and fairly expensive brew in the villages called tototo that was so powerful it could knock out a buffalo. Could they have drunk that? And where had they got the money to lavish themselves with tototo? Then someone said Cde Mugabe’s jacket had disappeared in the morning. We feared he would get angry over the missing jacket, even create a scene, but he didn’t. Instead, it was Two Boy who went around threatening anyone who might suggest he had anything to do with the missing jacket. One of the two guys Two Boy had spent the day away with said he remembered they bartered something wrapped with a piece of paper that felt like a jacket. Many years after the war, I met him at Crocodile Motel in Rusape and reminded him about the little incident at Villa Catandika and he dismissed it with a chuckle and a wave of the hand. This was a long time after he was involved in that nasty and horrible incident with a white farmer near Mt Hampden and had already been dismissed from Government as a Cabinet minister. But this was a long time before they had expelled him from ZANU PF. This was also sometime before he formed his own political party, ZUM and ran as a presidential candidate in the 1990 elections. There is no dispute that Edgar Tekere was a hero, but he was a controversial man. Wherever it is we go when we die, if indeed there is such a place, Two Boy must already have disagreed with a thing or two they do. Do they expel people there? Well, that’s something worth pondering over.