Robert Mugabe is the only leader that Zimbabwe has ever had. For many, the 93-year-old is a hero, for liberating the country. But he is also seen as a tyrant, for crushing his opposition time and time again, often with violence. What will a new leader mean for Zimbabwe’s relations with the West?
KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:
So if in fact he is on his way out, let’s talk about the legacy of Robert Mugabe. The 93-year-old is the only leader Zimbabwe has ever had. Under British rule, the country of course was known as Rhodesia. And to many people, Mugabe was a hero for liberating the country. But then he is also seen as a tyrant for crushing his opposition time and time again often with violence.
To talk about Mugabe, we are joined by Munya Munochiveyi. He’s a Zimbabwe historian and associate professor at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. He’s with us on Skype. Welcome to the show.
MUNYA MUNOCHIVEYI: Thank you.
MCEVERS: Tell us about Robert Mugabe. He was born near Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare. He was a schoolteacher, right? And then he went to university in South Africa. Tell us about how that time influenced him.
MUNOCHIVEYI: Yes, well, I think, you know, it’s really complicated to reflect on who Mugabe is without his history. Of course Mugabe actually comes from a venerable tradition of African political intellectuals who emerged in post-second-world-war era actually, you know, within the context of the rise of anti-colonial African nationalism. His peers in fact include many respected former African statesmen who contributed to the downfall of European colonial regimes – you know, people like Julius Nyerere of Tanzania and even certainly Nelson Mandela. So like it or not, you know, this is Mugabe’s class of statesmen.
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