PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe yesterday said his life was in God’s hands and does not know why he has outlived all his siblings.
Speaking at the burial of his sister Bridgette in Zvimba, the 89-year-old leader said he had no secret to longevity. “I present to you Bridgette as a dead person now. We have lost your warrior, Bridgette Chenhamo,” he told traditional leaders at the funeral. “It’s unfortunate she was sick, it’s not like I failed to take care of her and ask why I am still surviving yet I am an elder.
“I don’t know, but it’s just because of God’s will.”
Mugabe, who is on annual leave, had not been seen in public since last year until Bridgette’s death on Sunday, sparking rumours about his health and even speculation that he had died.
At the funeral, he spoke for more than one hour 30 minutes and delved into his family’s history. Mugabe described how his father abandoned them in Zvimba and relocated to Bulawayo where he married another wife.
“Michael was born in 1919 and Raphael in 1922. I played together with Michael until 1934 when he died of poisoning,” he said.
“Raphael died when he was only six months, so I could not see him. Donato also died then Sabina, now Bridgette. That was mbuya Bona’s family.
“Michael and Raphael passed on so I became the first born.
“After the poisoning, my father was not happy and said there was something wrong at our home before going to Bulawayo in 1934.”
The Zanu PF leader said Bulawayo had a better social life at that time than Harare and became a magnet for young men. He was not happy after his father stayed for too long without visiting the family and decided to follow him to Makokoba where one of his uncles was staying.
“I was not happy after he had taken his time to come back home and wrote a letter to him expressing my displeasure,” Mugabe said.
“There was a good life in Bulawayo with beautiful Ndebele girls and our father had taken one.
“He was a carpenter in Nyamandlovu and had married a beautiful lady out of Bulawayo.”
Mugabe’s father had two children David and Albert in Tsholotsho. “I was well treated when I went to see him, but little did I know then that my father was unwell,” the veteran leader said.
He was told of the death of his father who had returned to Zvimba, while coming from his teaching job. “He had transported all his cattle and other things from Matabeleland by train,” Mugabe said.
“He came with three children and his in-laws and I said ‘God I am only 21, but I have such a big family including the one my father had brought.
“We set down with my mother and she said there was no problem in looking after her husband’s children and from then, we have remained united as a family.”
He described Bridgette as a “man-woman” who would at times fight like a man. Mugabe said Bridgette was more of an academic while Sabina was practical.
“In the end we had a Sabina who was self-reliant and a Bridgette who was more reliant on the brother as I was staying with her at State House,” he said.
“Out of her works, Sabina bought a house while Bridgette would say she did not have money.
“That’s why I said our education should have the psychomotor element. If you get education and that education does not have skills, that education is hollow.”
He said he would go to see Bridgette at least every week at Harare’s Parirenyatwa Hospital until he received a call from a doctor who broke the news of her death.