HARARE, Zimbabwe, Sept 14 – President Uhuru Kenyatta is among African leaders attending state funeral of former Zimbabwean leader Robert Gabriel Mugabe in Harare.
The President arrived in the capital Harare on Saturday for the funeral set to be being held at the National Sports Stadium.
Also present is President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa.
Mugabe will be buried in the National Heroes’ Acre monument in Harare on a yet to be announced date.
He died in Singapore last week aged 95, leaving Zimbabweans torn over the legacy of a leader once lauded as an anti-colonial hero, but whose 37-year rule ended in a coup in 2017.
“In this moment of sorrow, my thoughts and prayers go out to his family, his relatives and the people of Zimbabwe who, for many years, he served with commitment and dedication. Words cannot convey the magnitude of the loss as former President Mugabe was an elder statesman, a freedom fighter and a Pan-Africanist who played a major role in shaping the interests of the African continent,” Kenyatta said on September 6, after receiving the news of Mugabe’s death.
Former President Mwai Kibaki said the death of Mugabe marked an end of an era in Africa.
“His share of downsides aside, Mugabe, no doubt, stood for the greater good of Africa. His unrelenting quest for a free Africa stood out. Despite the sentiments of those who serially vilified him, Mugabe will be best remembered for courageously defending the dignity of the African people. Embedded in his story are valuable lessons worth celebrating,” Kibaki said.
READ: Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe dies aged 95
Born on February 21, 1924 into a Catholic family at Kutama Mission northwest of Harare, Mugabe was described as a loner, and a studious child known to carry a book even while tending cattle in the bush.
After his carpenter father walked out on the family when he was 10, the young Mugabe concentrated on his studies, qualifying as a schoolteacher at the age of 17.
An intellectual who initially embraced Marxism, he enrolled at Fort Hare University in South Africa, meeting many of southern Africa’s future black nationalist leaders.
After teaching in Ghana, where he was influenced by founder president Kwame Nkrumah, Mugabe returned to the then Rhodesia where he was detained for his nationalist activities in 1964 and spent the next 10 years in prison camps or jail.
During his incarceration, he gained three degrees through correspondence, but the years in prison left their mark.
His four-year-old son by his first wife, Ghanaian-born Sally Francesca Hayfron, died while he was behind bars. Rhodesian leader Ian Smith denied him leave to attend the funeral.
Mugabe leaves two sons and a daughter by second wife Grace.