The ex-president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, has passed away at the age of 95 in Singapore where he had been seeking treatment for a long illness.
The news of his demise was confirmed by his successor President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Friday.
“It is with the utmost sadness that I announce the passing on of Zimbabwe’s founding father and former President, Cde Robert Mugabe,” he shared.
“Cde Mugabe was an icon of liberation, a pan-Africanist who dedicated his life to the emancipation and empowerment of his people. His contribution to the history of our nation and continent will never be forgotten. May his soul rest in eternal peace.”
After ruling the Southern African country for 37 years, 94-year-old Mugabe finally resigned on November 21, 2017. The Zimbabwe National Army instigated an overthrow of Mugabe’s regime by placing him under house arrest for the crimes committed by individuals in his circle.
He was given the ultimatum to either resign by November 20, 2017, or face impeachment. He subsequently chose the former. His retirement sparked nationwide jubilations as Zimbabweans celebrated the dawn of a new era. Mugabe’s vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa, who he fired on November 6, was sworn in as the new president.
Born in 1924 to a poor family in Kutama, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Robert Mugabe or “Uncle Bob”, as many Africans like to call him, started out as a schoolteacher following successful completion of an under-graduate degree at the University of Fort Hare. He taught in several schools in the country and in Ghana.
In the early 1960s, Mugabe got fed up with the white minority rule in Zimbabwe and so he embraced Marxist ideologies with the aim of pushing for an independent black-led state. For ten years, starting from 1964 to 1974, Mugabe was detained for making anti-colonial statements.
Upon his release, the schoolteacher turned freedom fighter fled to neighboring Mozambique where he established a political party, Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), which led the Rhodesian Bush War in the late 1970s, fighting the British forces.
With Mugabe as its president, ZANU was later transformed into ZANU-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and spearheaded negotiations with the British administration for the independence of Zimbabwe. The negotiations led to the Lancaster House Agreement, which put an end to white minority rule in Zimbabwe in 1980.
A general election was held in April 1980, in which Mugabe’s ZANU-PF emerged victorious. As the head of the party, Mugabe automatically became the Prime Minister of the newly renamed Zimbabwe.