New York — Hundreds came to Harlem’s All Souls Episcopal Church on Sept. 17 to pay tribute to the late Robert Gabriel Mugabe. The memorial meeting for the former president of Zimbabwe, who died on Sept. 6, was organized by the December 12th Movement.
Mugabe was hated by all the imperialist overlords―from Wall Street to London to Paris―whose capitalist world market was jump-started by the African Holocaust. But to tens of millions of Africans and oppressed people everywhere, Robert Mugabe was a liberator.
The people of Zimbabwe were invaded in the 1890s by the British Empire on behalf of the diamond and gold mining multimillionaire Cecil Rhodes. Africans were forced off their land and their leaders were executed for resisting.
The resulting white settler regime was called Rhodesia. When Africans protested in the 1960s, police dogs were used against them like they were used against civil rights demonstrators in Birmingham, Ala.
African leaders were jailed by Rhodesia’s leader, the white farm owner Ian Smith. Among them was Robert Mugabe, who was jailed for 11 years. Smith refused to let Magube attend his child’s funeral.
While Hitler promised a thousand-year Third Reich, Smith vowed that it would be a thousand years before Africans ruled their own country. But Robert Mugabe and the people of Zimbabwe defeated Smith.
Mugabe became the leader of the Zimbabwe African National Union, which launched a liberation war from newly independent Mozambique. By 1980, Zimbabwe was free.
Land and freedom
Baba Zayid helped start the memorial and libations were performed by Camile Yarbrough. Members of the audience shouted out names of African liberators.
The famous photographer Kwame Brathwaite was introduced and the Rev. Frank Morales of All Souls welcomed the audience to the church. New York State Assemblyperson Charles Barron and New York City Councilperson Inez Barron saluted Robert Mugabe.
Omowale Clay and three other leaders of the December 12th Movement who had attended Robert Mugabe’s funeral spoke. Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa attended the funeral, as did several other African heads of state. So did Cuban Vice President Inés Maria Chapman.
Young people at the memorial read words of Robert Magube. Among them were, “We have fought for our land, we have fought for sovereignty, small as we are we have won our independence and we are prepared to shed our blood!”
Zimbabwe was free but the land was still owned by thousands of white farmers who exploited tens of thousands of African farmworkers. Zimbabwe’s people, under the leadership of President Mugabe, took their land back.
As Charles Barron noted, taking back the land is what really made the wealthy and powerful hate Robert Mugabe. New York’s media have never forgiven Charles Barron for bringing Robert Mugabe to the New York City Council.
The U.S. government placed cruel economic sanctions on Zimbabwe, as it has done to Cuba, Iran, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen. Sanctions kill. People in the church chanted, “Lift the sanctions now!”
The capitalist media lied about Zimbabwe for years before independence. According to a 1979 documentary that was shown at the memorial, 80 percent of the coverage in London’s daily newspapers supported Ian Smith and was hostile to the liberation struggle.
Viola Plummer, the chairperson of the December 12th Movement, called His Excellency Comrade Robert G. Mugabe one of the greatest leaders that Africa has produced. The Pan African scholar, professor Leonard Jeffries, praised Mugabe. Activists from the Côte d’Ivoire declared that “Robert Magube fulfilled his mission.”
Members of the December 12th Movement urged people to come out on Saturday, Sept. 21, to demand: “Lift U.S. sanctions off Zimbabwe.” The demonstration will start at 12 noon sharp at 53rd Street and Lexington Avenue and will march to the United Nations.
For more information, call 718-398-1766 or visit D12M.com.
Long live the memory of Robert Mugabe!
Photos: Nayaba Arinde / December 12th Movement