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Why Do Philosophers Drink Hemlock Poison ? : Goodbye, Comrade & President Robert Gabriel Mugabe of Zimbabwe

By: G. Yanquoi Lavela, Esq.,
Doctor of Jurisprudence

Robert Gabriel Muagbe is dead at age 95 years old. A towering giant against colonialism in all of its manifestations on the continent of Africa. Old soldiers never die. They just move on to the next battle. When the news of his death broke on the internet and I got wind of it, I cried profusely, as if he was my next of kin.

Why do philosophers drink hemlock poison? Philosophers drink hemlock poison and choose to die so that truth might live.

Robert Gabriel Mugabe was the last of the post-colonial African leaders who liberated Africa from colonial rule. When I think of him, I think of Dr. Jomo Kenyata of Kenya; Dr. Julius Nyerere of Tanzania; Dr. Hasting Kamuzu Banda of Malawi; Dr. Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia; And never to forget our own Dr. Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana; Leopold Sedhar Senghor of Senegal, the first person of color to be inducted into the prestigious “French Academy” (Académie française) for his clear perception and elucidation as the founder of the of the intellectual movement called “negritude”, carried on by the novelist, Aimé Fernand David Césaire, and the psychiatrist turned philosopher, Ibrahim Frantz Fanon, both of Martinique in the Caribbeans, who have argued very forcefully and with impeccable logic in their literary works, that African cultures and values deserve a rightful place in the pantheon of world cultures and must be respected as such. And the list of African leaders and liberators from colonial rule could go on ad in infinitum but for economy of time and space. Many have dubbed Robert Gabriel Mugabe as power hungry. Others call him a dictator and a ruthless tyrant whose obsession for autocracy brought his nation from the highest heights as the “bread basket of Africa” to the lowest depths as a nation of beggars and street pick-pocketeers.

Whenever we hear or read about Robert Muagbe in the Western Press, it’s always about his taking of “White-owned lands” and giving it to black people of Africa. But inquiring minds must ask the necessary question: “How did white people from Europe become land owners in Africa?” The answer is simple. They took it by confiscation from Africans at the barrel of the guns.

Few people will recall, or even care to remember, that President Mugabe was compelled into forcibly taking lands from whites and sharing them with Blacks when Britain and its Western allies reneged on their solemn promise to provide the necessary funds for re-acquisition of lands from white owners, if only he would accede and promise not to confiscate the so-called “white-owned lands” in Zimbabwe. Few will remember, or care to know, that even before Nelson Mandela, it was Robert Mugabe who was begging former Rhodesian Prime Minister, Ian Smith, for peaceful political and social change in Rhodesia - now Zimbabwe. He advocated for a non-racial democratic government based on “one-man-one vote” political model of governance. Mr. Smith's arrogant response was: “We are not interested in just counting the sheep.” He said that he would only agree to such “arrangement” if the white minority would retain a “blocking mechanism” in parliament over the Black majority to prevent any government policies he deemed inimical to whites. For his advocacy of a peaceful democratic change, Robert Mugabe was arrested and imprisoned for eleven solid years with hard labor, not very different from Nelson Mandela’s experience in the notorious South African prison of Robin Island. When his only son by his first wife of Ghanaian nationality died while he was in prison, Mugabe “asked the authorities” for permission to attend his son's funeral and was “denied.” That left Mugabe with no other reasonable alternatives but to take up arms and fight to liberate Zimbabwe. The Mahatma Gandhi once said that, if violence becomes the isolated and singular bridge to freedom, then it must be taken.

I argue that Robert Mugagbe was not was not simply a dictator just hungry for power. He was worried that the thousands of lives of African liberation fighters of Zimbabwe would have been lost in vain, if he had simply relinquished power to the likes of Western puppets, in the person Morgan Richard Tsvangirai, who were not simply willing, but quite eager to return the country back to white owned and white controlled Zimbabwe.

The relentless and punitive western economic sanctions and political pressures imposed on Mugabe’s government for his refusal to buy back 80% of the country’s agricultural lands in the hands of the minority 2% of the population that were white settlers ultimately forced President Mugabe out of office. He is, ironically, replaced by Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, his former chief of national security, aptly nicknamed “The Crocodile” for his shrewdness, who in the 1980s orchestrated the genocide of over 20,000 Zimbabweans from the Ndebele ethnic group to which Mugabe’s former comrade in the liberation war and later political rival, the late Joshua Nkomo, belonged. Mnangagwa has now rolled back all the investment laws that favored Zimbabweans to attract foreign investments and may do away with land reform altogether to allow whites to keep their lands.

Both Zimbabwe and South Africa are postponing the inevitable popular uprising over land redistribution. Liberia can avoid repeating their mistakes by reversing the colonial confiscation of tribal lands to their rightful owners who were there before Liberia was founded as a nation. Otherwise, the scale of government commercial exploitation of natural resources on those lands to the exclusion of natives from the beneficial enjoyment of those resources will reach a critical point that will force each tribal group to secede from the colonial republic and form their own governments based on the right of self-determination under international law. But that’s a subject for another day. For now, I salute the late Dr. Robert Gabriel Mugagbe for his sacrifices to liberate Africa. In the same breath, I am deeply saddened by the poor quality of the present African leadership, which is more obsessed with amassing illicit wealth in offshore secret bank accounts, than about liberating Africa from western cultural imperialism and the wholesale plunder of Africa’s vast natural and mineral wealth.

And so, I say to Comrade Mugagbe, sleep well, my sweet prince. You have fought the good fight. The race is never to the swift. But those who endure to the end. I’ll see you in the morning. Socrates was forced to drink the deadly hemlock poison for his adamant refusal to denounce and renounce the truth. He said that: “An unexamined life is a life that is not worth living”. As he laid dying from the poison, he said to his killers: “We must now part our ways: I to die. And you to live. Who knows which is better?” Robert Gabriel Mugagbe is now dead. Many are happy. But few, like I, remain uncertain and skeptical. But, of this, I’m very sure. Robert Gabriel Mugagbe is in death, as he was in life, utterly alone! Naked truth has no friends but mortal enemies. And he who lives in the world of truth telling to power has no friends anywhere.