‘I got my things and left.” The opening of Zimbabwean writer Dambudzo Marechera’s most famous work, House of Hunger, has a haunting echo after the long-awaited departure of Robert Mugabe from the political scene.
Mugabe, after making a fuss for a few days following the “intervention” of the military, took his things – chief among them his sense of being “king for life” – and left peacefully.
Ironically, given that Marechera’s book appeared at the end of Rhodesian colonialism, it was Mugabe, the country’s “liberator”, who was the one who presided over the House of Hunger that his country became.
Millions of Zimbabweans fled into exile during his rule; most to neighbouring South Africa, but others in a worldwide diaspora … more than ever left the country to fight the white regime.
The exiles would like nothing better than to return home and to be able to make a living and raise their families in dignity and freedom.
So, the weight of a country’s expectations now rests on the shoulders of Mugabe’s successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa.
He must surely realise that the tide of history has turned – not only in Zimbabwe, but across the rest of the African continent. Dictatorship is the past; democracy is the future.