President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe is one of the longest-serving and most infamous African rulers.
The 93-year-old has been an infamous political leader and also had a great influence on Zimbabwe’s freedom fighting movements.
Trained as a teacher, Mugabe rose to lead the Zimbabwe African National Union movement and was one of the key negotiators in the 1979 Lancaster House Agreement, which led to the creation of a fully democratic Zimbabwe.
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Elected prime minister and later president, he embraced conciliation with the country’s white minority but sidelined his rivals through politics and force.
Below are 10 interesting facts to know about Africa’s oldest president:
1. Mugabe a Zimbabwean revolutionary and politician was born in February 1924 to a poor Shona family in Kutama, Southern Rhodesia and educated by Jesuits.
2. The Zimbabwe president got his education at Kutama College and the University of Fort Hare. He earned seven university degrees, three while in prison.
3. He was once hailed as a model African democrat, Mugabe has held fast to power since 1987 despite a deepening political and economic crisis that critics blame on his policies.
4. The 93-year-old was jailed for 10 years in 1964 for opposing white minority rule. A guerrilla war began in 1972 against Ian Smith’s white government of then-Rhodesia.
5. Mugabe became leader of the ZANU liberation movement in the mid-1970s after his release from jail.
6. The renamed ZANU-PF won independence elections in 1980 and Mugabe became prime minister. He took office as president in 1987 following a change in the constitution.
7. In 2000, Mugabe was defeated when voters in a referendum rejected a constitution that would have given him more power.
8. Mugabe met his first wife Sally Hayfron in Ghana, for the first time and got married to her. However, he got married to Grace Marufu, who is his present wife, after Sally’s death. He had one son with Sally Hayfron, but he died at the age of 4. He has two sons and one daughter with Grace Marufu.
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9. Mugabe was shortlisted for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1981 after his election victory as Zimbabwe’s first democratically elected president following the country’s independence.
However a series of massacres which left thousands dead turned global opinion against him.
10. President Mugabe was awarded Knight Grand Cross in the Order of the Bath in 1994 by Queen Elizabeth II for improving relations between Britain and Zimbabwe, but this was revoked in 2008 due to his abuse of the basic human rights of his citizens.
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