Mugabe reveals painful history

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe yesterday revealed a painful past of abandonment and loss of his closest relatives as he told mourners that he could not even explain his long life.

Speculation has been swirling that the 89-year old strongman is sick — but he managed to walk for some distance during the funeral.

Mugabe, who spoke for 67 minutes, told hundreds of people at the burial of his sister Bridgette that he started to fend for his family when he was only 21, after his father had abandoned the family in Zvimba.

“Bridget is gone, not because we could not take care of her but because her time was up. People should therefore not question why I am still alive when all others are going.

“I don’t know why I have lived this long while all others are gone, it is God’s plan,” said Mugabe.

Mugabe, who will be turning 90 on February 21, has buried all his siblings.

Regina Gata is Mugabe’s only surviving half-sister.

Mugabe, who lacked the usual spiritedness in his step, had the crowds eating from his palm as he eulogised about Bridgette who died on Sunday morning after three years in a coma.

Service chiefs, government ministers, diplomats and scores of people drawn from across the country, came to pay their respects to Mugabe who revealed another side of him.

Mugabe said his father left the family in 1934 after the death of his eldest brother Michael.

Mugabe’s father never communicated and went on to start a new family in Bulawayo; a city that the Zanu PF leader said was famous for fast life and beautiful women.

“I even wrote him (his father) a letter expressing my unhappiness about how he had left us alone.

My uncles later reprimanded me saying I was being disrespectful. I was forced to apologise.

“He came back in 1944 while I was teaching in Matabeleland but I never managed to see him. When I came back, he had died but had left me another burden because he had brought with him his new in-laws.

“Now that I was now the eldest, I had to take care of them all but I was only 21,” said Mugabe.

Abandoned by his father, raised by his fanatically religious mother, and devastated by the death of his elder brother Michael, Mugabe’s childhood left him lonely.

Africa’s oldest president, who is often secretive about his past, also revealed that his father and mother married in 1918, and their first child — Michael — was born a year later, followed by Raphael in 1922.

Raphael died six months later. He was born in 1924, two years ahead of Donato, who is late.

Mugabe’s other sister Sabina, died in 2010.

Despite having been stripped of his knighthood by Britain, Mugabe told the multitude of people who attended his sister’s burial that he was “very British.”

“I am very British you know, that is why I even measure distance in miles. It is easy because the ratio is 5 miles to 8km, so for that ndinomboti pamberi nemaBritish,” (hail the British) he said.

Mugabe was not the only speaker at the burial with his half-sister Regina and his nephew Leo Mugabe, also revealing another side of the man who has ruled the country for the past 33 years.

“Baba varipo apo vairova zvebasa, (that man was a strict disciplinarian, who would beat the hell out of you),” said Regina.

Leo, who appeared drunk, told mourners that the name Mugabe often placed them in difficult situations.

“The names we carry, which belong to our uncles haunt us,” said Leo, who is Sabina’s child.

Bridgette, who was admitted at Parirenyatwa Hospital since 2010 after collapsing during the burial of her elder sister, Sabina at the National Heroes Acre in Harare, died of heart failure.

The president’s only surviving sibling suffered from breathing complications.

She was on life support for the past three years until the time of her death.

Mugabe, described his sister as an intelligent and strong person who was not afraid to even take on men in physical fights.

He re-counted the family history to mourners and said he never forced his siblings to join the liberation struggle.

In his usual lecturing, Mugabe narrated how Bridgette was tortured by the settler regime which he castigated for resorting to force.

The mother and grandmother, who died at the age of 79, were reportedly tortured by Rhodesians for at least a month.

The late Bridgette, who was a trained science teacher, was actively involved in the liberation struggle.

She is said to have even assisted the seven heroes who fought in the Chinhoyi battle in 1966.

She was declared a liberation war heroine.

Among the prominent people and heads of security services at the funeral were vice president Joice Mujuru, the majority of ministers, army commander Constantine Chiwenga and and police commissioner general Augustine Chihuri among others.

The industry was also well represented by, among others, Dairibord boss Antony Mandiwanza, former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Kombo Moyana, former Arda general manager Liberty Mhlanga, Sydney Gata and another ex-RBZ governor Gideon Gono.

Comments (45)

Mugabe should know that, fending for one's family at a young tender age is not new in the African family; he is not the only one. At least for him, he was 21; others have had to take on this responsibility at the age of 9 or ten, abandoning school. Therefor this so-called painful past does not in any way justify his permanent anger and cruelty to other people. My own mother also lost two brothers at a very young age!!

Jacob Zuma - 22 January 2014

So, this Mashonaland obsession with Mthwakazi, Bulawayo and its beautiful women started decades and decades ago? No wonder, they have done everything to destroy us after they came to power!!

Thabo Mbeki - 22 January 2014

How come Mugabe does not explain how he ended up hating and killing his own relatives in Mthwakazi?

Frederick De Klerk - 22 January 2014

Mugabe always talks about how Bulawayo was such a beautiful city in the 1930s and better than Harare. I cannot understand why he does not seem to see the irony in his statement. Bulawayo is what it is today because of his misrule, cant he see that?

Dr Joshua Nkomo - 22 January 2014

There were beautiful women there because when they raided the shonas they killed th ugly and took the beautiful ones, nothing fishy here. My worry is that so many people have taken care of the family at young age due to his people who have killed political opponents, at least his father died because of sickness what do you say to the kid who had his father killed by the so-called zanupf militia, the Gukurahundi victims some who don't even have death certificates. he was lucky. I lost a father when I was 19 and he left me a trailer of children who all had to go to school.

Maita Manyuka - 22 January 2014

People don't make it personal, this is Mugabe's history........ it does not negate or excuse your history.

Mwana Wevhu - 22 January 2014

Come on... give Mugabe a break! He is mourning for goodness sake.

Thomas - 22 January 2014

mudhara ava mavhiri emberi manje .luv u gushungo .

zanu pf - 22 January 2014

People were at a funeral and not at a political party meeting. So behave like a human being who should feel the lose of somebody who needed to live just like you. If you want politics, then dont mix bereavement speeches and political mishaps.

Toridodo - 22 January 2014

Your father abandoned your mother bcoz he was a hure who liked beautiful matebele woman. You see typical Malawians like kuchona had it not been for sickness he would have settled in matebeleland at the woman 's rural home that is Achimwene we know.What was his name ?

Dibulaanyika - 22 January 2014

@maita manyuka When the Ndebele raided, they killed the ugly and took the beautiful ones, acording to you. So what happened to the beauty genes in the survivors? The Ndebeles also took away these genes as well; is that what you mean? Sometimes the lack of intelligence in some people's arguments is really bewildering; so much for the so called most educated Africans on the continent!

ZIMBABWEANS ARE DULL!!!! - 22 January 2014

President Jacob Zuma lost his father when he was very young. He cant even recall how he looked like. There were no missionaries to help him, so he never went to school. He took up a job as a gardner in Durban to help fend for his family; before joining politics and subsequently spending 10 years of incaceration on Robben Island. The apartheid regime was by far, far more vicious than the Rhodesian regime. Despite all the odds against him, he still manages to smile again and again and is not as angry as you are. He has never conducted a gukurahundi against his own black people, but instead went out of his way to bring peace in KwaZulu Natal between the IFP and the ANC. Shame , shame on you, you are a disgress. 33 years down the line, we are still mourning our loved ones whom you killed and we never buried. You have refused us to give them decent burials and refused us from commemorating them. We cant even pray for them, because you arrest us for PRAYING. You deserve all that has since befallen you, you evil lunatic!!

Mthwakazi - 22 January 2014

Sometimes god take the right people and leave bad one like Mugabe .Pliz god take this man I mean kill him on behalf of suffering zimbabweans do it now we want him dead he is evil he is heartless he does not listen he can't pursive oh pliz god kill him for us so that we can have some sanity in our country pliz god take him.

Dibulaanyika - 22 January 2014

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Gore Rino!!! - 22 January 2014

“I am very British you know, that is why I even measure distance in miles. It is easy because the ratio is 5 miles to 8km, so for that ndinomboti pamberi nemaBritish,” (hail the British) he said. There you have it folks from the horses or is it old donkey's mouth?

Interesting Times - 22 January 2014

Jealous down - Mugabe is charismatic.

Jabu - 22 January 2014

I'm disgusted with all this and you know what...I'm really pissed!!

Regalia - 22 January 2014

Your stories are interesting but your writing is atrocious. When you say'only surviving half sister' its like saying he had other half sisters. The word sibling is defined as one born of either or both of one's parents. Ntombana is a half sister but is a sibling, the last of Mugabe's siblings.

john moyo - 22 January 2014

Could this be a window into Mugabe's soul about why he hates matebeleland so much so that he was willing to unleash Gukurahundi, and still to this day not much of any development there... Anyone who knows Mugabe knows that the man can keep a grudge as already alluded to by his own cousin Chikerema who said early in the days Robert would not talk to you for days over trivial boys' disagreements. When he spoke about his father's you could sense his hatred for having left him and he seems like the little boy who never forgave his step mother for taking his father away from his mother, And in this case, the whole of Matebeleland seems to be suffering for the sins or misdeeds of his father's crooked ways... Just a thought

tino - 22 January 2014

text analysis of Mugabe's speech suggests that he found Bulawayo and the Ndebele woman exciting. Ntombana (Regina) Gata is or was quite a stunner is her younger days. I think Mugabe is misunderstood by people in Matebeleland. Every young man in MAshonaland must have wanted an experience of KuBuruwayo, because of the availability of job, in the Railways , Cold Storage and factories.

george bachinche - 23 January 2014

Zimbabweans are just unfortunate. They fought a protracted and bloody war against the British and thought they had won. But No! The president of Zimbabwe for the past 30 plus years now reveals that he is "very British", even more British, and by implication, more brutal, than Ian Smith. That explains it! What a grand betrayal!

Lexi Cato - 23 January 2014

Afirwa haatariswi kumeso. Let him mourn his sister but he shouldn't forget that Zimbabweans have been moruning since 1980 which became worse from 2000.

Mwenezi - 23 January 2014

He said almost everything about his immediate family except that he didn't reveal his ancestry. What is your real surname Sir? Mugabe is not yours.

Dzinza - 23 January 2014

Condenscending usually hides a degree of inferiority. Think of the Irish jokes. Some people have the same thing for Malawians inferiority perhaps. My understanding is gushungos are Zimbabwean and bridget is not his last sibling

enock sebele - 23 January 2014

Zimbabweans lets stop citisizing our leaders and rather pray for them and our nation. It is God who enthrones leaders. Let us pray that they may have Godly encounters and that they may not compromise and stand for truth and integrity and godliness. Zimbabwe is a God fearing nation. I declare by faith poverty and corruption will be gone and peace shall reign in Jesus name

Child of God - 23 January 2014

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Clean Water - 23 January 2014

some humanity should be in our hearts at times though we may have political differences, hey some times we just have to show some degree of human sense. munhu afirwa ngatimbochemai naye tozoona zvekusawirirana kwedu later.

kamba - 23 January 2014

Bridget rest in peace. To Robert I say nematambudziko. To all zims who listened to Robert speak for 67minutes, tell me. Or ma you help me with answers to these questions. 1. What happened to happened to the two guys born of a woman from Matabeleland? 2. What of their children if they had any? Never had of them. 3. So Robert hates those who come from Malawi the same way he hates those from Matabeleland. Remember grace said their are Totem-less and followed it up by striping them of any rights - citizenship. So Robert is mama's baby. 4. What is Robert's real ancestry ? Taking what I have been told, it looks like had grace not given Robert children it means there will be no Mugabe clan after him. Extinction.

papaya - 23 January 2014

Ulwa ubukhwele bukanina.

papaya - 23 January 2014

Gukurawundi Mugabe killed our Mthwakazi people for not speaking Shona; for supporting PF ZAPU and Joshua Nkomo; for not supporting ZANU PF his party; for speaking Ndebele etc. For those reasons alone, I will passionately hate him till I or he dies, which ever comes first. I will never wish him any good whatsoever - bugger what African culture says regarding the bereaved. I am also bereaved - I lost family; I have received no apologies, no reparations; I am not allowed to commemorate their death and I am even arrested for PRAYING for them. Mugabe is a two-legged evil creature, never known in Southern Africa. Killing fellow blacks is the worst eviol I can think of - had he been white, maybe I could understand. I wish him hell; and hope very much his equally evil sisters who did nothing to dissuade him from his evil gukurahundi ways are all headed for GEHENNA. He has reuined our lives; ruined our children and children's childrens lives; he imposed Shona at a gukurahundi gunpoint on rural Mthwakazi; destroyed our once great and revered great city of Bulawayo - our great King Mzilikazi is turning in his grave; Mambo is turning in his grave; as it was declared years yonder that - WHAT THE GREAT KINGS MZILIKAZI AND MAMBO PUT TOGETHER - NO MAN SHALL PUT ASUNDER!!

MTHWAKAZI - 23 January 2014

Painful history? What painful history - this a history of pleasure - abandoning the dog in its infancy!!

MUGABE SUFFER MANI!!! - 23 January 2014

You may hate him or say whatever you say it won't change the situation for now because vari panyanga. If we could stop saying unproductive statements and concentrate on building our country I think it would make sense. We all Zimbabweans why the hatred?

David Lee Chimushonga - 23 January 2014

@David Lee Chimushonga Yes we do hate him, we will never pretend about that. Whether it changes anything is neither here nor there, still I for one hates him with a passion and would not hesitate to deal with Bona, Chatunga, and Robert junr, should I come across them anywhere in this world in revenge for gukurahundi. Just like he and his henchemen revenged on us for the 1890s tribal wars, which we were not involved in. There is no way yo will ever build a nation by sweeping things under the carpet. You have face each other eye ball to eye ball and heal the wounds, if you want lasting peace. I am surprised you say we are all Zimbabweans - haven't you heard about the DZOKERAYI mantras? The go back to South Africa mantras continue to do the rounds to this day. Wake up and smell the coffee!!

PHUNYUKABEMPHETHE - 23 January 2014

Matebeleland is being killed by us. We should stop blaming Mugabe and start building our city. No one will do it for us . Its us who will continue to suffer. Matebeleland arise and build your city. Invest in your area

Gail - 23 January 2014

@Gail, what is the purpose of a government? Stop blaming Mugabe, are you mad? How much money was the government taking from the revenues generated from Beerhall sales of the Bulawayo City Council? and then you have the guts to say stop blaming government, uyahlanya. Govt has the responsibility to create the right environment for business to thrive. Business will not thrive where government is bent on destroying. Was it not government that issued a directive just before the July 2013 elections demanding that Council writes off debts owed? How then is the city supposed to run without money? First get Chombo off the back of our City if you expect the rebuilding of our city to succeed; otherwise you are just daydreaming!!

PHUNYUKABEMPHETHE!!! - 23 January 2014

Uzafa esekhulume konke is this why he wants to die in power he is scared. what advantage did this bring to you shonas njengoba selingama refugees nje . hating people because of beauty ulizanka wena mdala wena gail ulilema yini uthanda ububi ungumuntu wangaphi hamba kini

fana utshilo - 23 January 2014

Terrible things happened during the gukurahundi period and people are still being affected economically and psycologically. Zimbabweans who were not affected are sometimes insensitive about the whole episode, it boggles the mind. All Zimbabweans need to face this issue head-on and try to resolve it once and for all, because it will never go away by ignoring it. We are all Zimbabweans, this obsession about kalan'as, zezurus, karangas etc is pointless to say the least (it does not make anyone a better person than the next). If a section of the Zimbabwean community has issues which need redress we need to address them collectively for the better future of the next generations. The anger and hate being displayed by Punyukabempethe!!! runs through most of the people in Matebeland and parts of Midlands and understandable. By the way I am ZIMBABWEAN but come from Mashonaland.

DANDARO - 24 January 2014

So zvine basa here kuti Leo appeared to be drunk.Is it the first time kuona munhu akadhakwa parufu.

dougie - 24 January 2014

@ Dandaro, well said. Not long from now we shall reach canaan, where the only issues btwn the Shona and the Ndebele will be laughable issues and not hatred or disgust. There is a reason why the old man is still alive, he will be one person who will serve a very painful punishment before he kicks the bucket, i say!!!!

cosmas gumunyu - 24 January 2014

Sorry Mr President no sympathy from us. 90 year old cry babies just don't go down well. Imagine if we all let our painful history over the past 34 years be known. Would have included the previous painful history of 16 years but at least he didn't try to illicit our sympathy

saundy - 24 January 2014

True that Dandaro. My heartfelt condolences to the First Family. I think that the formation of the organ of National Healing and Reconciliation was to look into all issues acting as impediments to national unity and development along tribal lines. The problem is they have not performed to expectations just like the ZACC. Our biggest problem is not formulation of policy but implementation. Otherwise the President was just being a father. We are more comfortable living with a leader whose past and present we all know and as such I suggest we stop attaching political connotations to any statements that he may have uttered before or after the burial.He was reflecting on the experiences of the past and at the same time giving an account that will help the next generation understand how life used to be in those days. Let us not be insensitive and judgemental. I personally suggest our chiefs from the mashonaland and Masvingo provinces should apologise on our behalf to the regions that may have been affected by the Gukurahundi or any other atrocities and accept the fact that this is a cause for the slow rate at which their provinces have been developing and livelihoods improving. To our ndebele brothers and sisters kindly accept our apologies so that we may move forward as a nation. Let no love be lost again between us.What is done cant be undone. Remember we are a new generation and our fathers are long gone. Those that remain feel sorry for themselves. I cherish the way some of you have cooperated with and assisted us at different universities in Zimbabwe and SA

mukanya - 25 January 2014

I DID NOT KNOW THAT WE HAVE CRAZY THINKING PEOPLE IN THIS COUNTRY,SOMEONE IS GRIVING AND YOU ARE BUSY ATTACKING THAT GRIVING PERSON ,AS IF HE IS THE ONE CAUSING ALL YOU PROBLEMS,WAKE UP DON'T BE LAZY.

wax murehwa - 25 January 2014

The Ndebeles want to behave like they are innocent in this Gukurahundi thing. You started killing Shonas after independence just like your forefathers used to kill us and you thought we will fold our hands. You despise us and you think you are superior than us despite your lack of education, calling us Amasvina, the rat-eating tribe. Well, when you ill-treat people, insult and despise them, they will fight back. As long as you don't change your attitude towards us and continue behaving like the superior Matebele kingdom, you will never be happy in Zim. Remember you are just a minority tribe, so wake up and smell the coffee. Its either you are with us or against us.

Antony Chiwara - 10 March 2014

Interesting topic. its true the Ndebele people raided the Shona during the DZVITI times and took away women and strong men, but i want to remind the NATION that ZIMBABWE IS ONE . some people like the MOYOs, NCUBEs, SIBANDAS, NYONIs, quiet lot of those with totem names re actualy SHONA, their ancestors were the CAPTURED STRONGMEN who were taken during the infamous raids. We have intermrried so much , from Mutare to Plumtree, from Chirundu to Beitbridge, so we are now just Zimbabweans, vana vevhu, DR JOSHUA NKOMO used to like the mwana wevhu title so much. Those who are bitter should be forgiven, stop destroying yourself. personaly i like BYO, but JOY TOO MUCH , AND less production down there. MUGABE IS UNIQUE, i just think its time he rest to give a chance to the young ones, CAPABLE.

GUTU BOY - 28 February 2015

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