President Uhuru Kenyatta has eulogized fallen Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe as an icon of Africa’s liberation struggle and an elder statesman who relentlessly championed for African dignity.
The President said the founding father of independent Zimbabwe will forever be remembered for his contribution to the liberation of many African nations which benefitted from the veteran liberator’s material and tactical support in the 80’s and 90’s.
“The late Comrade Mugabe was an embodiment of the Pan-African spirit, offering immeasurable assistance and solidarity to many other African countries in their struggles to end colonial rule and apartheid,” the President said.
President Kenyatta spoke at Rufaro National Sports Stadium in Harare, Zimbabwe, where he joined other world and regional leaders, and thousands of Zimbabweans at the state funeral service of former President Robert Gabriel Mugabe who died aged 95 at a Singapore hospital last week.
He said former President Mugabe was always mindful of African interests and never shied away from pushing for the ownership and prudent utilization of African resources for the benefit of its people.
“The late President Mugabe has left an indelible mark in the history of Zimbabwe and the African continent at large, through his political astuteness and zeal for the political and economic liberation of Africa,” the Kenyan leader said.
The President who was accompanied by Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa and former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka said throughout his lifetime Cde Mugabe kept on challenging Africa to stand tall and find its place and voice among the community of nations.
“As an African leader and intellectual giant, he was firm and steadfast regarding Africa’s quest to address the challenges facing the continent. He was unwavering in his insistence that Africa’s problems demanded African solutions,” he said.
President Kenyatta challenged African leaders to stand firm and champion the continent’s interests in honour of its independent heroes saying this is the only way to give a befitting tribute to departed African statesmen.
“The onus is now on us to keep the hope alive and deliver on the dream of a truly free and prosperous Africa,” the President said adding that despite being shunned by some for his fervent belief in the African cause, Mugabe maintained close working relationships with his continental counterparts.
In honour of the late Mugabe, the President called on the continent’s leaders to guard against negative influences and manipulation that erode common values and aspirations for socioeconomic emancipation and prosperity.
“As African leaders, we should continue to champion African interests as an enduring tribute to the late Comrade Mugabe and other departed icons of the African political and economic liberation struggle,” the President said.
Other African leaders who spoke at the sombre funeral service included the host President Emerson Mnangagwa, Theodore Obiang Nguema (Equatorial Guinea) and Cyril Ramaphosa (South Africa) as well as former presidents Jerry Rawlings and Sam Nujoma of Ghana and Namibia respectively.
President Mnangagwa described the late Mugabe as a revolutionary leader, a patriot and a nationalist who believed in Pan-Africanism that put empowerment of the people ahead of all other partisan interests.
“Today South Africa mourns the sad loss of a frontliner, today Africa weeps, grieving over the loss of a true pan-African. Our motherland is in tears, our region is in grief and our continent is in sorrow, above all a family is stricken and in deep sorrow,” President Mnangagwa mourned his predecessor.
He pointed out that the late founding father of Zimbabwe was a great scholar, a thinker, a teacher and above all a true African who inspired the continent by speaking for the oppressed.
President Ramaphosa who apologised for the recent spate of xenophobic attacks in his country said the flare-ups were not good for the unity of Africa.
The South African leader assured that his government was taking proactive measures to ensure that all people continue to live together in an environment of sustainable peace and harmony.
As part of the state send-off ceremonies, the fallen former Head of State was accorded a 21-gun salute and a military fly past as part of the full presidential military salute.
Born in 1924, the late Mugabe who started out as a trained teacher and rose through the liberation struggle to earn his country independence in 1980 and thereafter led Zimbabwe for 37 years as founding president and father of the nation until 2017 will be remembered by many for his fiery and passionate speeches, and witty anecdotes.
A staunch Catholic, a powerful orator and a political maverick, the late Mugabe leaves behind a widow, Mrs Grace Mugabe and three children-Bona, Robert Jnr and Chatunga Bellermine.