Mugabe funeral: What African leaders said about ‘great Statesman’

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By Anna Chibamu

AFRICAN leaders on Saturday converged at the National Sports Stadium to mourn Zimbabwe’s late former President Robert Mugabe whom they described as one of the greatest leaders of all time.

Both current and former presidents from Africa and beyond acknowledged that the Mugabe wrestled for African freedom during the liberation struggle in the 1960s till the time of his death.

Mugabe, who ruled Zimbabwe for 37 years, died aged 95 on 6 September, 2019.

Former Ghanaian President Jerry Rawlings told mourners that Mugabe was one of the greatest leaders of Africa and nationals from his country.

He remembered him for his contribution in Africa’s struggle for freedom, justice and dignity and his moral values.

“Mugabe was not only a teacher but most of all his impressive moral values. Our enduring affection for Mugabe was equally rooted from not only growing up as brotherhood but by marrying Sarah Francesca Hayfron, the wife of his youth now buried at the National Heroes Acre who supported him with her energy.

“Mugabe never lost his sharpness and direction,” said Rawlings.

Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta also spoke highly of the man who Zimbabweans wanted out of power for failing to run the economy.

“An intellectual giant, firm and steadfast in solving African problems. He was unwavering in finding solutions. A Pan-Africanist and a great icon of the African continent and visionary leader who was a relentless champion of freedom,” Kenyatta said.

He reminded fellow African leaders that the onus was now on them to keep the light on.

Kenyatta urged regional leaders to be united and safe-guard against negative influence and manipulation that may erode the continent’s common values.

Saharawi Republic President Ibrahim G thanked the late President for his effort to have Africa occupy its rightful place in the world.

“One of the leaders of Africa Mugabe was a freedom fighter who supported Saharawi people to get their freedom and fought for unconditional contribution to the continent’s liberation struggle,” he said.

Mugabe’s best friend Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo said, “Today the whole of Africa is mourning the loss of a great fighter. It is true, he was the African icon against apartheid, colonialism and neo-liberalism.

“Mugabe was a defender of human dignity worldwide, defender of sovereignty rights of the people of Zimbabwe.”

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa was booed as he tried to express his condolence message and had to be forced to apologise for the xenophobic attacks in South Africa that have resulted in 12 deaths foreign nationals.