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Education: Robert Mugabe bequest to Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe has been independent only since 1980. It has, however, attempted to change significantly the inherited educational policies, which it considers to be inappropriate to the nation’s adopted socialist ideology.

Education in Rhodesia during the colonial rule was designed to support a dual society philosophy based on one’s race which in turn determined one’s economic position. On the one hand Rhodesia, through its immigration and economic policies worked to avoid having a class of poor Whites as had happened in South Africa, and on the other, did not expect Blacks to walk in the shoes of the working classes as in England.

Zimbabwe’s educational policies during post-independence educational policy formulation has been influenced not only by ideological goals of national policy, but equally strongly by the inherited colonial capitalist infrastructure.

Thus rather than adopting the French or to some extent Portuguese, policy of social and political absorption, the problem as presented to the British was how to secure a future that would give scope to both White and Black without political or social fusion. Distinctly geographically separate residential areas and social facilities were established.

The colonial administration enacted economic policies intended to establish white economic domination in farming, mining and in labor relations. Through a series of Land Acts, notably those of 1894, 1914, 1930, 1951, and 1969, a quarter of a million Whites ended up owning as much land as five million Blacks. A Land Bank was created in 1912 to provide credit facilities to enable White immigrants to buy land.

Mugabe maintained a firm grip on power through a complex system of patronage, jealously guarded by the elites who surrounded him.This system unfairly rewarded those who supported him and persecuted those who did not.It has come to be known as Mugabeism  and while its namesake may be gone, the underlying system remains intact..

Landmark events in Zimbabwe between 1980-1982.

To many in Africa, Mugabe was a revolutionary who freed his people and reclaimed land from the colonialists to give to native Zimbabweans. He was a great orator and an unwavering leader who promoted an empowerment and education agenda. The law professor and politician Lovemore Madhuku, a man who has long opposed Mugabe through his organization, the National Constitutional Assembly had this to say about Mugabe’s education policies: “My parents are poor peasants in Chipinge. They could not have afforded to pay for my university education. Under the leadership of Robert Gabriel Mugabe, the government of an independent Zimbabwe paid for my university education. My generation benefited from that vision.” Others whether they supported Mugabe or not will no doubt relate.

This is the memory President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government is honoring by naming Mugabe a national hero and announcing a mourning period until his burial. Kenya, too, announced three days of mourning for the “icon .”

Photo Credit: Former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe is seen at the closing ceremony of the 28th Southern African Development Community summit of heads of state and government, in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Aug. 17, 2008. (Jerome Delay/AP)

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