By Masimba Mukichi
(News Of The South) – At the burial of his sister Bridgette at their rural homestead, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe spoke of the challenges of life he faced as a young man growing up in Zvimba Communal lands.
He divulged that he started to provide for his siblings when he was only 21, after his father, Gabriel Mugabe Matibiri, had deserted the family and the matrimonial home in Zvimba in 1934.
Mugabe`s father who was a carpenter left for greener pastures and went to live in Bulawayo, that was soon after the death of his brother Michael.
His father married a second wife and went on to have three children – the two children; David and Albert are now late. The remaining child is Dr Regina Gata.
President Robert Mugabe was born in a family of five – his mother being his father’s first wife. One of his brothers Raphael died of poisoning six months after birth, Donato, Sabina and recently Bridgette are all late.
The seasoned leader said that his father never communicated with the family when he settled in the city of kings, Bulawayo, which in his own words was famous for fast life and beautiful ladies. He reiterated:
“I even wrote him a letter expressing my unhappiness about how he had left us alone.”
He said his uncles lectured and cautioned him about the stance he had taken to meddle in his father’s affairs – he was made to apologise. He was raised by an extraordinarily good, caring and religious mother -Gogo Bona Mugabe (nee Shonhiwa) and in 1942 Mugabe qualified as a teacher and took up teaching in order to support the family.
A highly educated Robert Mugabe had a passion for books – a bookworm in his own right.
Mugabe’s father came back to Zvimba in 1944 whilst he had already established a name for himself as a teacher, by then he was already teaching in Matabeleland, unfortunately his father died before they reunited.
Mugabe had to assume the father figure role and had to support all of his siblings from all his father’s wives. He had this to say:
“Now that I was now the eldest, I had to take care of them all but I was only 21.”
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