It’s Robert Mugabe’s 90th birthday today. The president is hailed as a revolutionary hero by some of Zimbabwe while the West considers him a tyrant, guilty of corruption and widespread human rights abuses.
It is not surprising that a man who polarises opinion so sharply should possess a presumptuous and outlandish turn of phrase. He’s been in power for more than thirty years and is the second oldest leader in the world. His eccentricities remain as unrivalled as his control of Zimbabwe. Not only has he compared himself to Jesus Christ and to Hitler but he delivers his outrageous assertions wearing clothes that would give the most flamboyant of grandfathers a run for their money. He’s like a satirical sketch character. Who else could get away with saying things like this?
On Britain: "Britain is a very cold, uninhabitable country with small houses.”
On gay people: "We ask, was he born out of homosexuality? We need continuity in our race, and that comes from the woman, and no to homosexuality. John and John, no; Maria and Maria, no. They are worse than dogs and pigs. I keep pigs and the male pig knows the female one.”
On gay rights: "It is not worthy of discussion. Those that engage in such acts are insane. We cannot tolerate this, otherwise the dead will rise against us."
On Hitler: "I am still the Hitler of the time. This Hitler has only one objective: justice for his people, sovereignty for his people, recognition of the independence of his people and their rights over their resources. If that is Hitler, then let me be Hitler tenfold. Ten times, that is what we stand for."
On white people: "The only man you can trust is a dead white man."
On being better than Jesus: “I have died many times - that's where I have beaten Christ. Christ died once and resurrected once.”
On cricket: "Cricket civilises people and creates good gentlemen I want everyone to play cricket in Zimbabwe; I want ours to be a nation of gentlemen."
On Tony Blair: "Is it not obvious that Britain, under the regime of Tony Blair, has ceased to respect the Charter of the United Nations?"
On Blair's tactics: "The UK set gay gangsters on me"
On criticism: " Only God, who appointed me, will remove me -- not the MDC, not the British. Only God will remove me!"
Robert Mugabe in pictures
Robert Mugabe in pictures
1/20 Mugabe celebrating his 89th birthday
He spent £400,000 on his celebrations. Mugabe and his supporters tucked into an 89kg cake and 89 cattle were presented to him from the country's central bank. A lot of his country are starving
2/20 Robert Mugabe
Robert Mugabe, 1976
3/20 Mugabe meeting Thatcher
Mugabe said he thought he could 'trust' Thatcher but didn't believe anything Tony Blair said
4/20 Robert Mugabe and David Lange
Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Robert Mugabe (R) welcomes his New-Zealand's counterpart David Lange at Harare airport, 1985
5/20 Robert Mugabe and Indira Gandhi
Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe and Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi at the Summit of Non Aligned in New Delhi, 1983
6/20 Robert Mugabe receives the Hunger Project award
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe holds up the Hunger Project award as recipient of the Africa Prize for Leadership 15 September in New York, 1988
7/20 Robert Mugabe and Fidel Castro
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe (L) is greeted in Havana by Cuban President Fidel Castro, 1992
8/20 Robert Mugabe and Bill Clinton
US President Bill Clinton points to items of interest on the White House grounds to President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe during his visit, 1995
9/20 On Blair's criticism
"So, Blair keep your England, and let me keep my Zimbabwe"
10/20 Robert Mugabe with his wife and Queen Elizabeth
Britain's Queen Elizabeth with President Mugabe of Zimbabwe and his wife, pose for photographers after being the Queen's guest at Buckingham, 1997
11/20 Robert Mugabe with Nelson Mandela and Sam Nujoma
South African President Nelson Mandela (C) and his counterparts, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe (L) and Namibia's Sam Nujoma (R), shake hands after a joint pressconference in Pretoria, 1999
12/20 Robert Mugabe prays
Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe prays at Harare Catholic cathedral church during a special requiem prayer for the late the country's founding father and liberation war hero Joshua Nkomo, 1999
13/20 Robert Mugabe and Idriss Deb
Presidents Idriss Deby of Chad (L) and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe attend a tree-planting ceremony on the African Union (AU) square in Ouagadougou, 2004
14/20 A controversial appearance on behalf of Nandos
Colonel Gaddafi sprays Robert Mugabe with water in the TV advert. His role in the spoof was played by a lookalike
15/20 On the West
"Countries such as the U.S. and Britain have taken it upon themselves to decide for us in the developing world, even to interfere in our domestic affairs and to bring about what they call regime change"
16/20 On voting
"Our votes must go together with our guns. After all, any vote we shall have, shall have been the product of the gun. The gun which produces the vote should remain its security officer - its guarantor. The people's votes and the people's guns are always inseparable twins"
17/20 On food aid
"We are not hungry... Why foist this food upon us? We don't want to be choked. We have enough" 1.5 million people were starving in 2005, especially in the drought-stricken south. Food aid became politicised
18/20 On power
"It may be necessary to use methods other than constitutional ones"
19/20 Robert Mugabe with his family
Zimbabwes President Robert Mugabe (R) and his wife Grace (L) with their 24-year-old first-born child and only daughter Bona Mugabe (C) pose after the convocation at MDIS-University of Wales graduation ceremony in Singapore, 2013
20/20 Robert Mugabe votes
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe (L) casts his vote by his wife Grace and daughter Bona (R) at a polling booth in a school in Harare, 2013
His public remarks have been so preposterous it is almost laughable. Almost. The arrogance of all tyrants appears comic to the West, who aren’t suffering the daily darkness of being ruled by a despot. The government’s security forces have been accused of torture, the basic rights of freedom of expression and assembly are seriously curtailed and being gay is illegal.