World News

Singing, dancing as Robert Mugabe's body is returned to Zimbabwe

Posted September 9, 2019 9:16 a.m. EDT
Updated September 11, 2019 12:23 p.m. EDT

— Scores of Zimbabweans gathered Wednesday to pay their respects to former President Robert Mugabe whose body was repatriated from Singapore.

Mugabe, who ruled Zimbabwe with an iron fist for close to 40 years, died last Friday after months of treatment in a Singapore hospital.

A state funeral will be held in Mugabe's honor on Saturday at the National Sports Stadium in Harare, according to a government statement.

There was singing and dancing at the Robert Mugabe International Airport as President Emerson Mnangagwa and his wife also joined the gathered crowd Wednesday at the airport.

Mugabe's legacy in Zimbabwe is a mixed one. While many revere him as the nation's founding father who stood up to the British colonials and helped his country gain independence, his latter years in power were marked by brutality and violence towards his own citizens.

Yet many still choose to mourn him.

One commentator on Facebook wrote: "He is home to Rest.. The Giant of Zimbabwe."

Zimbabwean TV host and producer Vimbai Mutihinri told CNN his legacy is complicated. : "The Mugabe I knew was a quick-witted man, with an incredible sense of humor and a totally disarming presence. And he loved patriotic, young people.

Mutihinri, whose father served as a diplomat during Mugabe's regime said: "I understand that my personal experience is distant to the reality of many, but this is why it is important for me to share it. Because while his public roles will face more scrutiny and judgment than ever - it is important to also keep the moments and gestures of love and goodwill that Robert Mugabe extended alive and to celebrate them as a part of his legacy."

Details of the former president's final resting place are still under wraps as his nephew and family spokesman said the decision would be made by elders in Mugabe's village.

"That decision is made by the chiefs. We tried to press them for a definite answer, but they said we should not rush them. They are doing what is required by the tradition, you know what happens when a King dies," Leo Mugabe told CNN