I have a particular interest in, and concern for Zimbabwe – formerly Southern Rhodesia – having lived there for some years in the late 1950s at the end of the British colonial era. At the time, Robert Mugabe was a fledgling teacher in our home town of Gwelo.
In 1980, when his country achieved its independence, Mugabe was greeted with a tidal wave of euphoria and high expectation. For the great majority, life could only get better. Instead, as everyone knows, it got worse. All too soon, Mugabe’s ruthlessness became apparent, as he moved to create a virtual one-party state, and to crush anyone who opposed him politically. Torture, murder, and deliberate starvation became the order of the day, with the result that millions fled the country, and millions more became unaccounted for. He also embarked on a course of action which would see the economic ruination of this once prosperous country.
And yet Mugabe is known to be hard working, and the possessor of several university degrees. He is a churchgoer, with a sense of humour, who enjoys watching cricket and listening to music. Also, there is a loving and compassionate side to his nature, particularly in respect of his family. How, therefore, can humaneness and decency on the one hand, and brutality on the other, coexist in one and the same person? Only by studying his psyche is it possible to shed light on this hugely enigmatic man.