Robert Gabriel Mugabe turns 91 today. He was born on 21st February 1924 in Kutama, Southern Rhodesia. At the time Rhodesia was run by a minority white government.
In 1934 his father abandoned the family. The young Mugabe, raised as a Roman Catholic, spent most of his time reading in the library. He qualified as a teacher and furthered his studies at Fort Hare in South Africa. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree and has since added six more.
In 1961 at the age of 37 he married fellow teacher and activist Sarah Francesca (Sally) Hayfron. They had one son, Michael Nhamodzenyika. In 1963, three year old Michael died from cerebral malaria. Mugabe who was in prison at the time was denied permission to attend his son’s funeral. Sally Hayfron died of kidney failure in 1992.
In 1996 Mugabe married his former secretary and mistress Grace Marufa, also the mother of his two children. They had their third child the following year.
1963: Mugabe fled Rhodesia and took refuge in Tanzania.
1963: ZAPU splits and ZANU was formed
1964-1974: Returned to Rhodesia and served a ten-year prison sentence
1975: Released from prison he left Rhodesia for Mozambique
1977: Elected president of ZANU
1979: The end of the civil war saw the birth of a ‘hero’
1979: The signing of the Lancaster House Agreement led to independence
1980: Mugabe won the general elections and became Prime Minister of Zimbabwe
1982-1987: The fifth brigade (trained by the North Korean military) were responsible for massacres in the Matabeleland province, around Bulawayo. This resulted in between 20 000 - 80 000 deaths. The victims were mostly Ndebele. The Gukurahundi, as it is called, refers to the brutal suppression of Zimbabweans in Matabeleland by Mugabe's Fifth Brigade
1987: Declared executive president of parliament
1987: The violence in Matabeleland finally ended with a unity agreement. ZANU merged with ZAPU to form ZANU-PF: The Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front
1990: Mugabe was re-elected president
1995: Start of anti-gay speeches
1996: Mugabe was re-elected
2000: White-owned land seizures carried out
2001:Minister Simba Makoni, warned of serious food shortage
2002: Mugabe blamed famine on the drought, while others say it was because of his decision to confiscate white-owned farms. A state of emergency was declared
2003: Zimbabwe withdraws from the Commonwealth
2003: US President George W. Bush announced economic sanctions against President Mugabe
2005: ‘Operation drive out the rubbish’ sees ‘illegal shelters’ being destroyed leaving 700,000 homeless
2005: Attends the funeral of Pope John Paul II
2007: Opposition rival Morgan Tsvangirai was arrested and beaten by the police
June 2008: Morgan Tsvangirai withdraws from the election and Mugabe remains as president
Queen Elizabeth II revokes his honorary knighthood
September 2008: Signs a power-sharing deal with MorganTsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change
2009: Zimbabwe abandons its currency and uses South African Rand and US Dollar
2013: Won seventh term as president
January 2015: Elected chairman of the African Union
This article first appeared on 702 : Another year for Mugabe