President Robert Mugabe yesterday disclosed that he was left to take charge of the Mugabe family at a tender age after his father abandoned the family in Zvimba communal areas and settled in Bulawayo.
Mugabe said this during the burial of his late sister Bridgette in Zvimba.
He said the death of his elder brothers, Michael and Raphael, naturally thrust him into the leadership position and forced him to take charge of all family affairs following his father’s departure.
Mugabe, who appeared fit and lively during his one-hour-plus eulogy, said his father could not stomach the death of Michael due to food poisoning and decided to go to Bulawayo where he was to stay for a decade before he passed on.
“Michael was born in 1919 and Raphael in 1922. I played together with Michael until 1934 when he died of poisoning. Raphael died when he was only six months so I could not see him. Donato also
died then Sabina, now Bridgette. That was Mbuya Bona’s family,” Mugabe said.
“Michael and Raphael passed on, so I became the first born. After the poisoning, my father was not happy and said there was something wrong at our home before going to Bulawayo in 1934.
“Bulawayo was fine, actually better than Harare in terms of social life. So most of the young men from different areas preferred to go to work in Bulawayo. I was not happy after he had taken his time to come back home and wrote a letter to him expressing my displeasure,” Mugabe said.
He said he then decided to trace him to Bulawayo in 1943 and went to Makokoba were one of his uncles was staying.
“There was a good life in Bulawayo with beautiful Ndebele girls and our father had taken one. He was a carpenter in Nyamandlovu and had married a beautiful lady,” Mugabe said.
He said his father had two other children David and Albert in Tsholotsho.
“I was well treated when I went to see him, but little did I know then that my father was unwell.”
He added that he was told of the death of his father who had returned to Zvimba, while coming from his teaching job.
“He had transported all his cattle and other things from Matabeleland by train. He came with three children, his in-laws and I said: ‘God I am only 21, but I have such a big family, including the one my father had brought. We set down with my mother and she said there was no problem in looking after her husband’s children and from then, we have remained united as a family,” Mugabe said.
Mugabe described Bridgette as a “man-woman” who would at times fight like a man, adding that his late sister was an academic, while Sabina was practically oriented.
“Sabina was practical, while she was an academic, more ideas and ideas. In the end, we had a Sabina who was self-reliant and a Bridgette who was more reliant on the brother as I was staying with her at State House.
“Out of her works, Sabina bought a house, while Bridgette would say she did not have money. That’s why I said our education should have the psychomotor element. If you get education and that education does not have skills, that education is hollow,” Mugabe said.
He said he visited Bridgette at least every week since she was hospitalised three years ago until he received a call from a Doctor Matenga announcing her death over the weekend