On 21 February1924 Robert Gabriel Mugabe was born at Kutama Catholic Mission in Zvimba Communal land is in Mashonaland 80km from Harare. He belongs to the Shona tribe, speaks the Zezuru dialect. He was the third son; his two older siblings Michael and Raphael died in their teens of unexplainable causes. Mugabe’s other siblings Donato, Sabina and half sister Gladys and half brother Albert.
A little known fact about Mugabe is that he was named after his father Gabriel. Gabriel Mugabe abandoned his wife Bona and family when Mugabe was a tender 10 years old boy growing up in colonial Zimbabwe. As a result of Mugabe’s father’s abandonment he developed wrath as do most boys whose fathers ditch their families. Mugabe grows up without a father and his identity is shaped by his mother who is a strong influence in his life. Bona Mugabe applauded her son when he excelled in his studies and loved the applause that came from it. He developed his identity in the applause of his mother.
It is reported that Mugabe in the absence of his father was bullied by other boys in the village which caused him to deal with affectation in order to cope with the circumstances that he found himself in. In his mind he always wanted to prove to them that he wasn’t the wimpy kid that they picked on but that he was in fact somebody. Mugabe developed a persona which people applauded him for and because he was praised for his education he wanted the applause to continue because it was in the applause that he got his identity.
The death of his siblings must have taken a huge toll on the whole Mugabe family and especially on Mugabe as a child. This explains why Mugabe takes anyone leaving his party personally. He fears being abandoned by the people who are closest to him and that one day he may never get the applause of the people. This also explains why the talk regarding succession hurt him the most because he feels as though people are saying they are ready to leave him.
Mugabe’s parents were poor peasants who lived on the communal land. The land owned by African peasants in those days was the one devoid of nutrients, sandy and unsuitable for agriculture. This was a result of Land Acts passed by the colonial government such as the Rudd Concession; Land Tenure Act & Land Apportionment Acts.
In 1945 Mugabe graduated from St Francis Xavier teaching College. Fort Hare was the only institution for Higher learning for blacks in South Africa and was the Harvard, Yale and Oxford for black students coming from Southern, Central and Eastern Africa. Mugabe was awarded an opportunity to study at the University in 1949. Mugabe still funds scholarships to Fort Hare on condition that the students do not engage in activism.