Nobody feels sorry for snake charmers or wild animal tamers who get bitten (Sirach 12:13). Khama, and many others,
advised Mugabe to consider leaving office in dignity. But all that fell on deaf ears. Mugabe wanted to rule Zimbabwe until death as if it was a monarchy.
Mugabe was too proud to listen to anyone. But pride has its limits; it is like a fountain pouring out sin, and whoever persists in it will be full of wickedness. We know it is so hard to leave – until you leave. And then it is the easiest thing in the world.
We understand addiction to power. How could a man hang on to power in such a self-destructive way, knowing that he is hurting not only himself, but the whole nation and all its people – the nation and people he sacrificed so much to liberate? It seemed that given his age, it would be so incredibly easy for Mugabe to step aside. Just retire. It was so simple, really. But his arrogance kept him from seeing the truth of the matter – that the Zimbabwean people no longer needed his leadership and wanted him to leave. There was no way things were going to end better than this for Mugabe. That’s the crux of the matter. We have seen this before. It was the case with Mobutu and many others – and there’s only heartache at the end. There’s no happy ending.
The longer Mugabe stayed, the more bitter and resentful the people of Zimbabwe were becoming. Before long, he became intolerable, and eventually, he had to be forced out of office.
One way or another, he had to go. His continued stay in office was destined to self-destruct.
Given his long life, Mugabe should have known very well that life is a series of hellos and goodbyes. A farewell is necessary before we can meet again.
Pericles, a prominent and influential Greek statesman, orator and general of Athens during the Golden Age, specifically the time between the Persian and Peloponnesian wars, once said, “What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.”
All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves. Today, Mugabe is reaping the fruits of his arrogance. And arrogance is being full of yourself, feeling you’re always right, and believing your accomplishments or abilities make you better than other people. People often believe arrogance is excessive confidence, but it’s really a lack of confidence. Arrogant people are insecure, and often repel others. Arrogance diminishes wisdom; it is blind to the stumbling block.
Mugabe’s arrogance has even made his virtues appear vices.
Arrogance made Mugabe stronger from outside, but even weaker from inside. Desmond Tutu summed it up very well: “Arrogance really comes from insecurity, and in the end our feeling that we are bigger than others is really the flip side of our feeling that we are smaller than others.”
How great would Mugabe be if he was not arrogant! And here, we shouldn’t confuse Mugabe’s arrogance with his intellect. The two are different. The best leaders inspire by example. When that’s not an option, brute intimidation works pretty well, too.
You can have a certain arrogance, and I think that’s fine, but what you should never lose is the respect for others.
As we are witnessing in Mugabe’s case, arrogance leads to disaster, sometimes it’s better not to be your own master.
Mugabe and his wife’s pride has brought them a sad ending. There are two kinds of pride, both good and bad. ‘Good pride’ represents our dignity and self-respect. ‘Bad pride’ is the deadly sin of superiority that reeks of conceit and arrogance.
Mugabe’s problem was the arrogance of success where he started to think that what he did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow. He was drowning in his liberation struggle credentials.
John F. Kennedy said, “When power leads man toward arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the area of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses.”