Amid flowing tributes in honour of departed Zimbabwe strongman Robert Mugabe, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has directed that the national flag will fly half mast for three days.
In a Presidential Directive, President Kenyatta said the tradition, usually practiced as a sign of respect, mourning or distress, will be performed for a three day period for the Zimbabwe strongman who died on September 6.
“The flag of the Republic of Kenya shall be flown at half-mast at the State House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Republic of Kenya and throughout the Republic of Kenya from dawn on Saturday the 7th September, 2019 until sunset, on Monday the 9th September, 2019,” Uhuru’s directive said.
Uhuru also paid tribute to the liberation leader, saying the country had lost a friend from a nation that is a close ally. “Kenya has lost a close friend, following the passing of H.E. Comrade Robert Gabriel Mugabe. I take this opportunity on my own behalf, that of my family and the people of the Republic of Kenya to offer my deepest heartfelt condolences to Mrs Grace Mugabe, the entire family and the people of the great Republic of Zimbabwe.”
Mugabe, who led Zimbabwe from 1980 to 2017, had been a controversial figure, dividing opinion among some who considered him a hero while others opined he was disastrous to the progress of the Southern Africa country.
President Kenyatta said that the departed Mugabe would be fondly missed and remembered for being “a shining beacon of Africa’s liberation struggle, an icon that led Zimbabwe in its liberation struggle from colonialism to independence.”
“He was also an embodiment of the Pan African spirit, offering immeasurable assistance to his neighbour South Africa, in their struggle to end apartheid, and in his steady insistence that Africa’s problems required African solutions. He spent a lifetime challenging Africa to find its place and voice among the Community of Nations, and stand tall,” Uhuru added.
Apart from President Kenyatta, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga also passed his condolences following the passing of Mugabe.
Raila also added, “Mugabe was a liberation hero who like others, made mistakes during his reign.”
Mugabe was Zimbabwe’s founding Prime Minister and President, ruling the country from independence in 1980 until 2017 when he was deposed amid controversial negotiations that ended with him receiving immunity.
His successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who had been his deputy, also expressed his “utmost sadness”, calling Mugabe “an icon of liberation”.
Mugabe, who had insisted that he did not want to live in exile but wanted to die in his home country, passed on in a hospital in Singapore. He was 95 years of age.
Hailed by some as a Pan-African who regularly wanted the best for the continent’s people, Mugabe also faced international outcry, particularly from the West, who criticised his regime on many occasions.
In Africa however, Mugabe enjoyed cordial relations with many of the continent’s leaders. Uhuru also alluded to this in his statement when he said, “Throughout his tenure as President, H. E. Mugabe maintained close relationships with Kenya, visiting Kenya on several occasions...”
President Kenyatta added, “It is this close relationship that has seen Kenya and Zimbabwe assist each other to build capacities in various fields and confer each other at different multilateral fora. We will remember him for nurturing a strong and growing the relationship between Kenya and Zimbabwe.“
Mike Njoroge is the founder of Daystar Oracle and FootballTriangle. He is passionate about news, religion and sports. He can be reached at: [email protected]