Thursday, April 18, 2013

Robert Mugabe's Template For Racial Reconciliation in Southern Africa

Today is Zimbabwe's 33rd independence anniversary and I would like to take readers back to an amazing event that took place on March 4, 1980. It was the first ever speech made to the new nation by the incoming Prime Minister, Robert Mugabe, and I have posted this speech at the bottom of this blog. This statesman-like speech of racial reconciliation and nation-building set the tone for a decade of economic prosperity, racial healing and great advances in education and health.

Having demonized Robert Mugabe as a "terrorist", "war-monger" and "Communist" throughout Zimbabwe's war of liberation, White Rhodesians were understandably terrified of the incoming Black African nationalists who were to take over the reigns of power. Furthermore, the mass evacuation of a quarter-of-a-million Portuguese to Portugal on the eve of Mozambique's independence in 1975, was still fresh in the minds of Rhodesia's Whites. After Robert Mugabe's ZANU had been declared the winner in the elections, White Rhodesians literally had their bags packed waiting to escape the incoming racial retribution and tyranny that they thought was to accompany ZANU's rule. Alas, no such thing happened.

On the 4th of March 1980, Robert Mugabe gave one of history's greatest speeches, a speech that is up there in the same league as Dr King's, "I have A Dream" speech and Winston Churchill's wartime,"Never, Never, Surrender" speech. It was a speech that changed the course of history. Prime Minister Mugabe assured the nation's Whites of their rights and economic freedoms in the new and independent state of Zimbabwe, and stated that there was to be no racial retribution for past misdeeds. This racial-reconciliation would allow White Zimbabweans to prosper for a decade-and-a-half in ways they had never imagined before!

This White prosperity and racial harmony in Zimbabwe was also keenly followed by White South Africans. It was this harmonious Zimbabwean template that would convince White South Africans of their own place in a free and independent South Africa under Black majority rule. Had the Black African nationalists in newly independent Zimbabwe gone for racial retribution, the Whites in South Africa would never have acquiesced to majority rule in their own country. They would have fought  to continue with the evil Apartheid system and this would have engulfed the whole of Southern Africa in a racial inferno. Mercifully, that ghastly outcome never saw the light of day, thanks to the foresight and statesman-like conduct of Prime Minister Robert Mugabe. We salute him and thank him for that.


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