I am no British clone: Robert Mugabe

via I am no British clone: Robert Mugabe – Times LIVE Sapa-AP | 18 November, 2013

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe says he doesn’t want anyone to be fooled by his impeccable Western style of dress and his precise, use of English: He is African through and through.

“I am not British, I am not a colonial product because I am a complete Zimbabwean, ” he told graduates at Great Zimbabwe University near the remains of the 13th Century walled city, for which Zimbabwe, the former colony of Rhodesia, is named.

Addressing the students earlier this month, Mugabe had typically harsh words for Africa’s former white rulers.

“They think their right is to rob others of their resources,” he said.

But black Africans have the right to their own natural wealth and must “remain true” to local values after centuries of colonial rule that brought foreign cultures to the continent, he added.

The ascetic, austere Mugabe is a tough critic of the West, but he has been described as an Anglophile is known as a stickler for ceremony and detail.

At the graduation, he wore a sash, robe and mortarboard, academic regalia used in some of Britain’s most conservative universities.

Mugabe warns, however, that his Western appearance can deceive. He said the nation’s former British colonisers thought he admired all things British and had a British “way of thinking.”

After Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980, “they said publicly the problem with Mugabe is that he thinks like us,” said the 89-year-old former teacher who was handed power as Zimbabwe’s first black leader by heir to the British throne Prince Charles and the departing British colonial governor in 1980.

“Goodness me! How can I think like them?” said Mugabe. “I would be a rotten thinker to think like them.”

But he does dress like them, and requires other Zimbabweans to do so, too.

Since 1980, Mugabe has insisted on a strict suit and tie dress code among ministers and lawmakers in the Harare parliament.

The former guerrilla leader quickly abandoned Chinese-style Mao jackets in favour of tailored business suits with colour-coordinated neckties, breast pocket handkerchiefs and matching accessories, sometimes including flowers in the buttonhole of his lapel.

Other post-colonial African presidents have observed Western dress codes but few as elegantly as Mugabe.

President Kamuzu Banda of Malawi, who died in 1997, appeared in three-piece suits and a homburg hat but always carried an African chief’s flywhisk, made of lion’s hair.

Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya switched between regular suits and leopard skin shoulder wraps and headgear and also habitually carried a flywhisk.

Former South African President Nelson Mandela broke the mold, preferring bright batik-style casual shirts, even on formal occasions.

Until Western travel and banking bans were imposed on Mugabe and his party leaders to protest human and democratic rights violations about a decade ago, Mugabe regularly visited the upscale Harrods department store in London’s Knightsbridge district and Savile Row in Mayfair, the home of Britain’s best bespoke tailors.

Now he takes vacations in Malaysia and Hong Kong, Asian clothing and tailoring hubs, and shops on trips to United Nations meetings in New York and Geneva which are excluded from the travel bans.

At the annual state opening of parliament, Mugabe rides in a vintage British convertible Rolls Royce, escorted by police on horseback wearing colonial-style pith helmets carrying upright lances bearing flags and service insignia.

The nation’s judges attend the ceremony in scarlet robes, wearing traditional British wigs of bleached horsehair in the parliament house originally built as a copy of the British House of Commons legislature at Westminster, London.

Most Zimbabweans see no contradiction in Mugabe’s love-hate relationship with Britain and the West which he stridently criticizes and calls racist at most state functions.

Top personalities mostly follow his sartorial example and defend the use of large cars in the largely impoverished nation.

“There is status involved here. It is a mark of authority. How can you be taken seriously and command respect if you are not properly dressed and if you don’t have a proper car?” said Harare business leader Edward Nyathi.

Mugabe is a keen sports fan and remains patron of Zimbabwe’s national cricket team though he no longer attends matches at the colonial Cape Dutch-style Harare Sports Club across the street from his offices.

He once described the quintessentially British sport of cricket as “a game every young Zimbabwean should learn to play. It is a civilising influence.”

 

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 20
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    Africanson 8 years ago

    I see no significance of dress code to the way someone thinks. It does not mean that if you dress in animal skin you think like one. British people dress well hence Mugabe dresses well. Puting on a suit does not change someone’s identity or ideology. When they said he thinks like them they actually meant that he is intelligent and indeed he is no fool. Thats a fact.

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      Rudadiso 8 years ago

      Africanson, during opening of parliament Mugabe’s procession of where he and Grace are driven in an open classic rolls Royce, police on horse back wearing white gloves, judges wearing those ridiculous white wigs and red gowns…That is embarrassingly British in outlook 33 years after independence. You would be forgiven to the think the ceremony was happening in London.

      Mugabe used to shop and holiday in Britain before they stopped him. He and his late wife Sally rocked up at Load Soams funeral un invited and yet he did not attend Ndabaningi Sithole’s funeral. He never takes his holidays in an African country.

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    chilimanzi 8 years ago

    its all trash.

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    mark longhurst 8 years ago

    ‘GOODNESS ME ‘how can I think like them….we know you don’t ,you think of suppression, oppression, genocide, fratricide,tribalism, sexism, misogyny, murder ,theft and RACISM

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    The frigging arrogance of this idiot. He has a army that protects him. Walk in the streets and he would be torn apart. Frigging coward. Walks like he is a closet fagget

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    As much as he would like to be an ENGLISH GENT,he has no class and too much a r s e

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    Rudadiso 8 years ago

    If Mugabe thought like the British Zimbabwe would not be in this mess. He would know that even if you are the president you need to pay your taxes and your electricity bills like any other citizen. His motorcade would be shorter and he would not take a delegation of more than 70 to attend the UN general assembly and other meetings around the globe. He would actually be aware that these things cost money.

    If he thought like the British he would be okay with accepting defeat in elections and would not prioritise purchasing of luxury vehicles ahead of feeding his people who have to be fed by the very people he vilifies on a daily basis, the Western nations.

    He would have consulted parliament before sending our army to the DRC at a huge cost to the country; there would be running water in our cities and our roads would not be pot holed. Maybe he should indeed start thinking like the British then he would know that it is he responsibility to serve his people in stead of being served by them. He would not be living in 3 houses at the same time.

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    easily fooled 8 years ago

    I m glad HE realises he is not British…..I doubt whether he authored the doc, it must be the tired charambas n sibandas. He is not intelligent as he thinks…….he is unschooled, in fact. How can we expect a delicious pap meal when we see you taking the water to prepare it from a toilet chamber?

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    Africanson 8 years ago

    Rudadiso all i said is that the old man is not a fool and the British confirmed that. British clothing is also good. i also dress like the British and i took it from President Mugabe who learnt it from the British. Even when i spent two years in South africa, I was always in smart clothes and my peers used to look at me in a funny way. Now i am dressed in Asian style because i am based in their country. The British clothing is good and it is the best. All i said is Mugabe is not a fool and thats a fact. I did not say anything about governancy etc.

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    Shebah 8 years ago

    I see the British wish our president was part of their leadership.I really dont blame them because they are are now clueless as to how to remove him from power. His intelligent is above theirs.

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    wasu wemanyika 8 years ago

    You cant think kike them because you an idiot

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    wasu wemanyika 8 years ago

    you cant think like them because you an idiot

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    gukurahundi 8 years ago

    mugabe wapera muto

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    Mthwakazi 8 years ago

    He is NOT a keen sports fan, he only does it to fit in.

    One can never be a sports fan if they are so rigid as the gukurawundie is. No sports player or sports fan wears a suit and a tie 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days in the year.

    That guy does not even know that different ocassionals demand different forms of a dress form. At political rallies he wears a suit and a tie; he hardly attends sporting events, in those rare ocassions he attends he wears a suit and a tie; he goes to rural areas (rarely)in suits and ties.

    In contrast compare him to the South African politicians, who appear in public is short sleeved shirts; jeans; T-Shirts etc during weekend rallies.

    He is so colonised he doesnt know himself. He believes the English language, more than in any other African language of his own country!!

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    Boss MyAss 8 years ago

    Mugabe escaped the pain of an emotionally deprived family background by focusing on his intellect in the Catholic boarding school where a wealthy Anglo/Irish headmaster became his surrogate father – and Britishness his aspiration.

    After entering politics, he spent 11 years imprisoned for his beliefs, acquiring six of his seven university degrees while behind bars. His enforced but preferred book learning at the expense of real-life experience intensified a utopian view of the world that was to prove disastrous for Zimbabwe in subsequent years.

    ugabe escaped the pain of an emotionally deprived family background by focusing on his intellect in the Catholic boarding school where a wealthy Anglo/Irish headmaster became his surrogate father – and Britishness his aspiration.

    After entering politics, he spent 11 years imprisoned for his beliefs, acquiring six of his seven university degrees while behind bars. His enforced but preferred book learning at the expense of real-life experience intensified a utopian view of the world that was to prove disastrous for Zimbabwe in subsequent years.

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    Africanson 8 years ago

    Lol let us not confuse things here. British suits are not bad. He can not dress like south african leadership because he has a different test. Music,sports and dress code falls under choice and fashion. That is the reason why the coach of zambia was always in a white shirt, Methembe Ndlovu in shorts and Sir Alex in a suit. The love and pleasure of watching a game can only be explained by the person himself not the next person. He can not speak in shona when the business language is english. His Shona is not bad as well i am not sure about his ndebele.

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    Peter tosh 8 years ago

    Shebba, I have said times and times again, you are a fool who never went to school.