exactly is it about us humans that makes us feel compelled to tell glowing lies about dead people? What is this bizarre medical condition that pushes us to turn the cruelest and vilest among us into saints as soon as their hearts stop beating?Listening to some of the tributes to the belatedly dead former president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, over the past fortnight, one could have sworn that Pope Francis’ recent visit to southern Africa was organised to check on the man’s credentials for beatification.
In South Africa, we had everyone from Julius Malema to President Cyril Ramaphosa turning history and reality upside down as they tried to portray Mugabe as an unblemished champion of the rights of African people. But it was former president Thabo Mbeki who took the cake when he spoke in Durban last week.
To Mbeki, Mugabe “was a great patriot, a defender of Africa’s independence, a defender of Africa’s interests”.