I remember one of the only substantive conversations me and my dad had about African politics – It was when reports started to surface in the UK about Mugabe’s land reform programme. My dad seemed not just sad, but heartbroken about the situation in Zimbabwe and I remember that he tried to emphasise to me that once upon a time Mugabe was a hero.
The idea that Mugabe, a man I consider to be the black Hitler, was once a leader that my dad revered and respected doesn’t sit right with me – even to this day. In fact, I have had several similar conversations with my mother and she uses him as the poster boy of what is wrong with Africa – corrupt leaders.
So what does this have to do with a film blog? Well, reading The Guardian’s fascinating article on Mugabe’s 90th Birthday and the legacy he would leave behind had me thinking about a Mugabe bio-film.
I’ve recently seen the Idris Elba led Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom film and was bitterly dissapointed. I felt sorry for everyone involved with the film because it was clear that they had an impossible task – the man was too big. Mandela died a near saint and his deeds crossed over from mere fact to legend. Fans and skeptics of Mandela would both agree that at the very least he was a remarkable man. The same cannot be said for Mugabe and as The Guardian article correctly points out, at one point they were considered peers on the same life trajectory.
I would be interested in seeing a film that makes an argument about what happened to this man who had the “jewel of Africa” in his hand? I think it would be both interesting and heartbreaking to see a black hero, who could have changed Africa as much as Mandela turn into a villain.