Robert Mugabe to be buried at heroes' shrine
Zimbabwe's former leader is to be buried at a hilltop shrine reserved exclusively for the ruling elite
Robert Mugabe will be buried at a hilltop shrine reserved exclusively for Zimbabwe’s ruling elite, an official said on Saturday, as the country begins several days of official mourning.
Mugabe, who was 95 when he died Friday in Singapore, will be laid to rest in the capital Harare at the National Heroes Acre, which was set aside for Zimbabweans who have made huge sacrifices during the war against white-minority rule and who dedicated themselves to the nation, which emerged from the ashes of colonial Rhodesia.
“Comrade Mugabe will be buried at the Heroes Acre,” deputy information minister Energy Mutodi said. “That is where he deserves to rest.”
Located on a hilltop, and built with the help of North Korean architects, the plot has a commanding view of Harare, features a huge bronze statue of three guerrilla fighters and boasts black marble and granite flourishes.
Local media reports last month suggested Mr Mugabe did not want to be buried Heroes acre. It was not immediately clear whether he had later given his consent.
Mugabe is viewed by many as a national hero despite decades of rule that left the country struggling. He was an ex-guerrilla chief who took power in 1980 when Zimbabwe shook off white minority rule and presided for decades while economic turmoil and human rights violations eroded its early promise.
Mugabe had been forced to relinquish power by a previously loyal military in November 2017.
Reaction to his death was mixed, although praise ironically came mostly from ruling party officials and military leaders.
Born on February 21, 1924 into a Catholic family at Kutama Mission northwest of Harare, Mugabe was described as a loner, and a studious child known to carry a book even while tending cattle in the bush.
After his carpenter father walked out on the family when he was 10, the young Mugabe concentrated on his studies, qualifying as a schoolteacher at the age of 17.
An intellectual who initially embraced Marxism, he enrolled at Fort Hare University in South Africa, meeting many of southern Africa's future black nationalist leaders.
After teaching in Ghana, where he was influenced by founder president Kwame Nkrumah, Mugabe returned to Rhodesia where he was detained for his nationalist activities in 1964 and spent the next 10 years in prison camps or jail.
During his incarceration, he gained three degrees through correspondence, but the years in prison left their mark.
His four-year-old son by his first wife, Ghanaian-born Sally Francesca Hayfron, died while he was behind bars. Rhodesian leader Ian Smith denied him leave to attend the funeral.
He once said that he would rule his country until he turned 100, and many expected him to die in office.
But as his health weakened, the military finally intervened in late 2017 to ensure that his wife Grace's presidential ambitions were ended in favour of their own preferred candidate.
"His real obsession was not with personal wealth but with power," said biographer Martin Meredith.
"Year after year Mugabe sustained his rule through violence and repression — crushing political opponents, violating the courts, trampling on property rights, suppressing the independent press and rigging elections."
Mugabe leaves two sons and a daughter by second wife Grace.
Published: September 7, 2019 05:31 PM