Secret files reveal a man of humility
Sunday 06 April 2008
The seeds of Robert Mugabe's hatred of the British may have been sewn in the heavy-handed way ministers treated his first wife's claim for residency in the United Kingdom while he was serving a prison sentence in Rhodesia, newly released secret documents reveal.
The immigration papers also show for the first time the strength of the bond between the Rhodesian freedom fighter and his young Ghanaian bride as Mugabe emerged as a political force to be reckoned with in African politics during the 1960s.
In letters and telegrams written to Harold Wilson and his Labour government, Mugabe shows himself to have been once a man of sensitivity and humility prepared to plead with the British government in order to stop the Home Office deporting his wife from London.
The documents, released to the National Archives in London under the Freedom of Information Act, disclose how the Westminster government mishandled the formative stages of its own relationship with Mugabe and gave the Rhodesian dissident his first lesson in the heartless expediency of British foreign policy. There was no official response to Mugabe's pleas to Downing Street for his wife to be allowed to stay.
Mugabe's original political achievements may now be overshadowed by the brutality of his regime, but in his early career he was an inspirational leader among the ranks of the fledgling Zimbabwe nationalist movement.
He was also a man who had recently found love with Sally Hayfron, a Ghanian national, seven years his junior. By the mid-1960s Mugabe's political activism had brought him to the attention of the Rhodesian state government and in 1964 he was arrested for "subversive speech" and sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment in the country's notorious Salisbury Prison. After her husband's detention, Sally Mugabe (below) continued to be involved in subversive activities in Rhodesia and spent six weeks in one of Salisbury's prisons for demonstrating against white rule.
Later, she was found guilty of organising African women to challenge Ian Smith's Rhodesian constitution. She was charged with sedition and sentenced to five years' imprisonment, part of which was suspended.
The political climate made it too dangerous for her to stay in Salisbury and so in 1963 she and her son escaped by fleeing first to Ghana and then in 1967 to self-imposed exile in London where she found work as a secretary at the African Centre in Covent Garden.
Shortly before coming to England in 1967, tragedy struck the Mugabes when their son Nhamodzenyika died from a severe attack of malaria. He was just three years old.
- 1 Jeremy Clarkson 'sees no problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC
- 2 'Alien thigh bone' on Mars: Excitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
- 3 Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
- 4 London restaurant 34 creates champagne glass modelled on Kate Moss’ left breast
- 5 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
'Alien thigh bone' on Mars: Excitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
Russell Brand opposes anti-Semitism after death threats: 'We must disavow all forms of prejudice that lead to exclusion and execution'
James Foley 'beheaded': Isis video shows militant with British accent 'execute US journalist' – as hunt begins for killer
ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
Microbial life found living on the exterior of the International Space Station, say reports
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Bin bag full of cats' heads discovered near Manchester's Curry Mile
Disgusting, frustrating, but intriguing: how the country really feels about its politicians
£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer (TSQL, S...
£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-End UI/U...
£30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C#.NET ...