Mugabe movie premieres in London

LONDON — Granted unprecedented access to President Robert Mugabe for a new documentary, filmmaker Roy Agyemang provocatively questions whether the Zimbabwean leader is the demon that the Western media portrays.

Report By BFI

Though no concrete election date has yet been set, the 88-year-old reportedly suffering from prostate cancer, will run for another term.

The developing story is sure to attract just as much international attention as the country’s previous presidential election in 2008, which was mired in controversy and resulted in an uneasy coalition between Mugabe’s Zanu PF party and the MDC formations.

It is in the run-up to the 2008 election that Agyemang’s intriguing and timely documentary, Mugabe: Villain or Hero? begins. It premiered in London on December 15.

The British-born son of Ghanaian parents, Agyemang had grown up wondering why African leaders were frequently portrayed as two-dimensional villains in the British media, especially in light of the fact that his parents had been contemporaries of the highly-regarded Kwame Nkrumah, the Ghanaian politician who oversaw the nation’s independence from British rule in 1957.

So in 2007, he set out on a journalistic quest to gain a new perspective on Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since its independence from Britain in 1980.

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To many in the western media, the titular question is one that barely needs asking.

Few international leaders have attracted the widespread antipathy afforded to Mugabe, who frequently finds himself topping “world’s worst ruler” lists.

Routinely accused of terrible human rights abuses, Mugabe is also been held accountable for running his country’s economy into the ground, provoking financially devastating economic sanctions with his brutally inept leadership.

Mugabe also became infamous in 2000 for being the first African leader to allow white-controlled farms to be seized and redistributed to indigenous population.

The effects of this land grab on one particular family was explored in Lucy Bailey and Andrew Thompson’s 2009 documentary Mugabe and the White African.

Mugabe: Villain or Hero? was initially intended as a three-month project.

But when Agyemang found he was able to get more access than he’d dreamed of, it mushroomed into a three-year odyssey — one perhaps worthy of a fictionalised thriller in its own right.

Alongside Zimbabwean interpolator-cum-sidekick Gari, Agyemang was able to go where the banned news networks CNN, BBC and Sky have all been unable: inside Mugabe’s inner circle.

Aygemang’s key aim in the documentary is to discover how and why Mugabe’s fall from grace came about.

After all, he was not always such an international pariah: he was once nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize and in 1994 awarded an honorary knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II.

Mugabe was also a regular face on the international stage, a fact neatly illustrated by an early photo montage which depicts him hob-nobbing with the likes of Margaret Thatcher, the Pope, Princess Diana, Nelson Mandela, Fidel Castro and John McEnroe.

The answers which Agyemang finds are largely rooted in the troublesome intersection between international economics and post-colonial fallout.

The end result is a curious mixture of documentary and personal self-discovery narrative — one which raises more questions than it ultimately attempts to answer.

It is, however, notable for providing a fresh perspective on the Mugabe story, truly engaging with the thorny issue of African post-colonial international relations, and for securing incredibly close access to an undeniably fascinating figure.

“In close-up, Mugabe is seen to be a fiercely charismatic nationalist with more support among the Zimbabwean populace than Western audiences might expect,” argues Agyemang.

There is plenty of compelling archival news material, as well as great footage of reggae superstar Bob Marley’s historic appearance at Independence celebrations in 1980 — reggae had been banned in Rhodesia.

Most impressively, the film allows us the rare opportunity to see Mugabe as a human being and not, for once, as a Western media construct. It’s not an especially critical work, but emerges as an important tool for broadening debate.
— BFI

51 Comments

  1. admire musingarabwi

    Mugabe our Hero!

    1. mugabe yo hero not mine

      1. True African Hero !!!!

    2. 100% right . My hero also

    3. @Admire musingarabwi

      admire , waakupfeka bhutsu size ani manje? Ndava last time wenge uri pa13.

  2. Mugabe a hero yestrdae,2mrow n 4ver..leave our President alone.

    1. @Mambo you can’t even write proper English! Why not write in Shona/Ndebele then?

  3. whose hero is he.he is definately not

    1. Mugabe is a hero guys. musamboda kuzvitambudza henyu. those western guys dont even complete a day without talking about Mugabe y, thats bcz vanomutya. Musiyei akadaro mukuru wangu uyo. Kana usingamudi iwe hakozve saka unoti nyangadzirei.

  4. Hero hero hero .

  5. Sbject of ridicule

  6. Mugabe son of a bitch./…………….

    1. How low can you sink!

    2. Nhamo, you do not sound reasonable. Mai vaMugabe ndivo vadii?

      Deal with him as an individual or as an office. I find your comment shallow, stupid and disgusting!

  7. Hero status is fading daily and soon will be very unpopular bcoz of iron-fist-leadership style. hazvinei hazvo mwari vanoziva zvavachaita nayo mboko yekwaMugabe iyi.

    1. He has never been a hero,but a killer.During the day he preaches peace and during the night he kills then you call that person a hero.Come open up your eyes and ears please musaita ma blinkers, remember Gukurahundi, its a shame.

      1. usaudzwe nyaya dzekundari uchiya nadzo kuvanhu what do you know about gukurahundi mufana iwe ?tanga wabvunza mavambo kwete kungogwauta!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  8. He is a hero indeed and it can not be disputed.

  9. Agyemang was given access because he is from Ghana, like Mugabe’s late wife Sally. He’s been paid to cover up the massacres and the brutal rapes of Mugabe opponents. But Agyemang’s belated propaganda will not help much. There is enough evidence to nail Mugabe at the International Criminal Court.

    1. This documentary is over due. We have bn waiting for it for th past two years. Garikai Mash wat ve u bn doing? Sitting on it. Mugabe is a hero not a villain. Those who subscribe to th latter tough it up.

    2. Finally someone who is speaking sense on this! How many thousands of people have died because of his policies and people still try to make him out to be a human!

  10. Fallen hero is more like it

  11. As much as people might hate Mugabe for whatever reasons; is it good guys to say “the 88-year-old reportedly suffering from prostate cancer, will run for another term.” The moment i saw the wording of the first paragraph i just lost interest in reading it. i know i am in exile due to poor policies but i cant speak such bad words to anyone. may you please improve how you write your articles this is totally offensive. did u diagnose him of the cancer? this is not good i suggest the writer must remove those offensive words; sure its not good. ok suppose he is suffering from cancer; can we surely celebrate for that? did he choose to suffer from whatever disease he might be suffering from? I hate this. u deserve to be sued; sure u deserve to be sued.

  12. kan lwayers for human ryts contact me want legal advice plannin to sue zimstat for nt payn us during census

    1. kwete kusanganisa nyaya kana washaya wekutaura naye rara

  13. he remains a hero , like it or hate it . the white man created and knited him, they should zip up .now that he is no longer saving their selfish interests they abhor him. they kept looked elsewhere during the 80″s atrocities coz their inerests were served . the brits are hypocrites , seeing evil only when affected huh! rubbish .zvino vorumwa nechokuchera … kikiest!!!!!!!!

  14. If he is a hero so what are you doing in the diaspora?

    1. wakadzidzepi iwe what a silly question ………………….. nxaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

  15. @Exile: “i know i am in exile due to poor policies but i cant speak such bad words to anyone.” After reading ZANU-PF’s ‘exciting’ Gweru Conference resolutions, Exile, you can now come back home. You will probably be ‘rewarded’ with mining claims. I’d rather you had stayed home like me to fight to improve conditions. By the way, in a democracy, you can say anything about anyone – this is not Equatorial Guinea or North Korea!

    1. Mugabe .a true hero.

    2. Or Belarus… or Cuba

  16. Once a hero people and that is the truth, but of cause we don’t eat history do we??? At that time he was and i bet his time as a hero is way past gone and we should be looking for new blood with a better energy. We can’t continually say We Died For This Country

  17. Zimbabwean Westerner

    Any of you claiming mugabe is a hero, you must be some sick, twisted, warped, freak zanu-pf idiot. If you all think westerners are so concerned about mugabe and how he is portrayed think again. europens and british have long since forgotten about the maggot that is mugabe, so you can stop embelishing western opinions. Secondly a hero as you call him would not allow millions of matabeles to die or for an entire economy to collapse or for stocks to plumit or for thousands to die of starvation or for millions to be homeless or for his country to dissapear and only be known as the former geat zimbabwe. To say zimbabwe ruins is an understatement. A hero has no place as president unfortunately a cruel evil old man currentlydoes. so do not question world wide intelligence with your one word comment “hero” get a grip. For the crimes he has comitted and for the neglect and cruelty he has imposed, he should be hung, drawn and courted

  18. It is clear as the day , indisputable fact and also common knowledge that he is a hero. Kana benzi chairo rinozviziva.let us not be unreasonable to the extend of disputing facts.HE LED THE ARMED STRUGGLE AS WE ALL KNOW.

  19. Zimbabwean Westerner

    The struggle that has left empty shelves, dark days and more stress than ever before GET YOUR OUTCOMES RIGHT

  20. mudhra bhobho igamba remagamba iwe usingazivi urichigamba wajaira kushandiswa kubuda munyika hazvirevi kuti pane zvanetsa kuno kunyangwe zvenyu vamwe muchinotsvaga basa nemakuhwa shame on you………………… you will regret the day you left this country

  21. Zimbabwean Westerner

    i have university options a lovely house plenty of food, funnyenough i dont think i will, and oh when did this become about me? how about getting back to the rutheless dictator you call “hero”

  22. Mugabe is the essence of heroism,period

  23. Young Zimbabwean

    The man known as Robert Mugabe has been called many things. He’s made many mistakes but who hasn’t? Look instead to the things he’s got right. I for one second his firm stance against homosexual relations while that puppet Morgan Tsvangirai seeks to please the international community by wanting to allow it. If animals don’t do it why should we? The key issue in this country is the people not wanting to do anything for themselves and trying to blame it on someone else. From a youngsters point of view, this country needs a leader, and only Robert Mugabe has stepped up to the plate. Maybe Welshman might be the only viable successor, but Morgan is a foolish, ignorant man.

    1. Are you saying sexual matters concerning two, or even three, consenting adults are of more national importance than starving masses, mass electricity outages, outrageous water shortage, shortage of work, etc? You are surely mad. My two male, female or hermaphrodite neighbours’ sexual deviances does not affect any of the aforementioned.

      1. Young Zimbabwean

        What I’m getting at is a lack of moral direction. No moral compass leads to an abuse of power and authority. Correct me if I’m wrong but generally when power and authority are abused it leads to things such as corruption in our municipal councils? What does that mean for the rest of us? Misappropriated money. The little money there is, money meant to benefit the community ends up in a back pocket. You lose out, you have power cuts etc. all from not having a moral compass. Really dude think about it, if you don’t have a moral code, you’re not gonna get far in life. Perhaps I should have said that in the previous comment, I didn’t mean to single out homosexuality, my bad.

  24. Mugabe is a hero. He is a hero cut from the same cloth as Adolf Hitler, Idi Amin, Joseph Stalin, Hideki Tojo, Saddam Hussein, Kim Jong Il, Benito Mussolini, Mengistu Haile Mariam…

  25. Bob dhara rangu pamberi nekupa mayouth maold german shaft murume uyu haana kukanganwa zwakafira vanhu

  26. Our President is the lion of Africa. He knows the direction. Panofa President thats wen people wil know kunaka kwavo

  27. Hey YUNG ZIMBABWEAN is it that Mugabe is the one causing corruption or the corruption is even done by MDC councilors. Wake up from darkness my friend.

    1. Zhou my friend, I never mentioned any political party as being corrupt, I’m just saying there are corrupted municipal councilors from both parties. I have said President Mugabe is the best leader we can have at the moment.

  28. Mugabe is a joke. An old joke that will die soon, fortunately.
    He turned a beautiful Rhodesia into a trash heap called Zimbabwe.
    May he forever burn in hell for his evil deeds.

    1. Young Zimbabwean

      Beautiful Rhodesia? Rhodesia wasn’t even a recognized state!

  29. HERO OF ZANU PF OF THE ARMY GENERAL COZ THEY BENEFIT ALOT 4RM HIS MISRULE..THEY HAVE ACQUIRED THE FARMS AND UNDER THE GUISE OF INDEGINISATION WL ACQUIRE THE THE COMPANIES AND THEY R EATING DIAMONDS MONEY..SURELY HE IS A HERO TO THEM NOT THE REST OF DA COUNTRY WHICH IS SUFFERING COZ OF HIS MISRULE

  30. abu jihad karigamombe washington

    To all those supporting Mugabe here – you are a joke, and the reason that the world laughs at Africans’ misery… while the masses are dying of AIDS and starvation your Marxist Catholic tyrant snacks on lobster washed down with Moet and Chandon champagne. What a joke. Let’s face it, majority rule has been a human catastrophe and the only thing that Cde His Excellency Robert Gabriel has achieved is to reduce a once flourishing nation, society and its infrastructure to the dark ages, in fact even further back in time than that. Fantastic – but please, the white man would like his trappings of civilisation back – be it waBenzi motokari, designer Italian clothing, technological gadgets and all the rest of the status symbols which the useless ZANU-PF negros seem drawn to like magpies to shiny objects. Vanhu vatema get real, it’s about bloody time.

  31. Those who consider or have considered him a HERO at some point are surely mistaken. Mugabe has always played his game for his benefit. He supports policies that benefit his pursuit for perpetuated presidency. While people were celebrating “indipendence” in the 80’s, he was pursuing a ONE PARTY STATE, in which he was to be president. When Nkomo disagreed, Robert played the dissidents card, and used his special army (5th Brigade, by the way, it wasnt part of ZNA at the time) to thwart the opposition. Ofcourse the rest is history…

    So the Hero status depends on where you come from in Zimbabwe. Eg. If you are from Zvimba, yes he is a hero. From Masvingo, you wouldnt agree but not as vehement as fellow country-men from Lupane for example.

    Ofcourse some will critisize this point saying I am bringing in Gukurahundi which they will ask, how much do I know about… Fine, I will pose it this way:

    + We are mining in Marange today, where is the HQ for the mining company…….Harare
    + Every other city in Zimbabwe is Struggling or even turning to a ghost city, but they have plans to build an affluent city in Zvimba

    In other words the government in Harare is usurping every other resource in Zim to only build Harare and possibly spend the rest on flights to China.

    The rest of us in Zim feel, we are still in a colonial repressed land, now with the seat in Harare as opposed to London…

    Differing views are welcome

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