Why we celebrate 91 years

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PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe turned 91 on February 21 2015 and formal celebrations of this remarkable achievement took place in Victoria Falls on February 28 2015.
Coverage of the event has been done by both the print and electronic media, most of it positive and analytical, some of it negative, especially in the privately owned media.
Below is a tiny bit of the list of what Zimbabweans were celebrating:
First: It is very easy for most of us to cite the figure of 91 and fail to absorb the full implications of that biological fact vi-a-vis what the President is still able to do in spite of his age!
The President is still able to discharge his duties as head of state, as Chairman of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Chairman of the African Union (AU).
This alone demands many hours of rigorous homework and many hours of sitting through meetings, planning and steering discussions, most on issues of a pioneering nature and therefore difficult.
The point here is: how many of us will celebrate the age of 91 and still remain lucid and coherent enough to recall much and make use of that recollection in order to shape the future as President Mugabe is doing!
He has the gift of a razor-sharp mind and has been putting it to good use right up to the present.
Or to put it differently, would former presidents of the United States, George Bush senior and Jimmy Carter, both born in 1924 and therefore President Mugabe’s age mates-would these two fellows be able to carry the same amount of workload today as our President is doing right now?
Second: Apart from getting many lessons from President Mugabe on how to look after our physical and mental health for long, there is also the issue about having a vision in one’s life, a purpose which shapes the individual, but one which also addresses issues related to one’s country and continent!
African nationalism and Pan-Africanism have been very central in shaping the life and agenda of President Mugabe and have remained so for the rest of his life.
Why?
Because he was born at a time when all European countries regarded Africans as part of the animal kingdom and not part of the human family!
He identified the colonialism that he was born into as a dehumanising social, economic and cultural system and practice which he had to fight against just as Kwame Nkrumah and others had done
Liberating Zimbabwe became a lifelong undertaking first and foremost and everything else second!
He was a prisoner for over a decade, a fugitive on the wanted list, an exile living a dangerous and precarious existence away from home and relatives, a beggar for weapons with which to liberate Zimbabwe, a leader when there was no school to train such leaders.
One key lesson which President Mugabe is bequeathing us is that the liberation struggle does not end after attaining political independence; that it carries on until economic liberation is achieved.
And the good news is Africa is beginning to listen hence his recent appointment as Chairman of the AU at this particular juncture, notwithstanding he had been Chairman of the then Organisation of African Unity (OAU) before.
Third: When the history of Zimbabwe is finally written, one of the reasons Zimbabweans have elected him into power so many times is that he possesses an unusually sharp intellect that is the envy of many both at home and abroad!
Former Foreign Minister of Britain, Douglas Hurd, put him this way: “The trouble with Mugabe is that he thinks like us.”
It is indisputable that it is his intellect which has helped him to ward off Zimbabwe’s arch enemies such as Tony Blair, George W Bush and Gordon Brown!
All these worked hard to turn the whole of Africa against him, but he outflanked them all, big and powerful as they were and, in the process, earned the respect of our continent!
It became a David and Goliath contest which he won hands down!
He has this gift of being able to see far and wide well before most of us can see what is in store for us- this ability to grasp the needs of the present moment while at the same time aligning that present to a desired future, this gift of knowing when to be strategic and when to be tactical and how to apply each of these and for how long and why?
It is one thing to have a vision, it is quite another thing to implement it.
President Mugabe has done very well in implementing the Land Reform Programme which is a game changer in so far as the ultimate ownership of the economy of Zimbabwe is concerned!
Fourth: Love him or hate him one of the things one cannot take way from President Mugabe is the self confidence and or self-belief with which he handles the African cause.
For the past fifteen years the man has had to bear the full weight of Western propaganda against him personally and against Zimbabwe in particular.
He has been labelled a tyrant, a dictator, a despot.
Very few leaders in the whole world have survived such a relentless and prolonged onslaught.
The objective was to inflict reputational injury of the kind that would not only sow doubts in his supporters in Africa and abroad, but also render him politically damaged beyond repair.
Any leader of a lesser calibre would have capitulated and repented for having dared to challenge a whiteman.
Instead President Mugabe remained resolute and resilient and of the firm belief that ultimately right would prevail over might.
The British are now back in Zimbabwe looking for business opportunities as any other European country!
What we learn from President Mugabe is the kind of leadership which Africa should always go for, a leadership that does not sell out, that does not act on the basis of fear of the Western world, a leadership which believes in its vision and mission and does not waiver or capitulate at Africa’s expense!

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