Monday, 5 September 2011


A stunning look at how Zimbabwe’s controversial leader President Robert Mugabe turned from saint to sinner after assuming power in 1980 airs on the FX Only in Africa Season 2 strand on Zuku TV last weekend.
Robert Mugabe… What happened?, is directed by Simon Bright and produced by Michael Auret, and the documentary had its World Premiere two months ago in Cape Town as the opening night film at the Encounters South Africa International Documentary Film Festival.
Billed as the definitive account of Mugabe’s life, it dramatically illustrates his role in the successful struggle for liberation and development of the country but also his ruthless and cunning retention of power at all costs.
In publicity material, Bright said that the documentary “gives Mugabe the credit where it’s due”.

“It’s an exploration of what happened to a promising African leader who was well respected and it recognises his fight for freedom and against Apartheid. But it also explores the forces that caused him to effectively destroy a lot of what he built.”
In parallel narratives Bright tells the stories of Rhodesia’s transition to Zimbabwe and the personal journey of Mugabe, using one to explain the other, finally suggesting why Mugabe chose the road he has taken.
As a biography it makes for compelling viewing with first-hand accounts of Mugabe’s early life with a desperately poor Catholic mother, what he was like at school, the effects of a Jesuit education and his rage against his absent father.

As his star ascends commentators reflect on early landmarks, particularly his attendance of Ghana’s independence celebrations in 1957. It’s clear the highly intellectual Mugabe was admired and respected through the 1960s and 70s, Bright traces the origins of the adoration towards Mugabe through fascinating archival film interviews with some of his ardent supporters.
The parallel story of the transition is equally well researched, as are later episodes of importance, notably Lancaster House, the Matabeleland genocide and the growing role of global business in Africa’s economies. But it’s the behind-the-scenes jostling for power which Bright exposes that is the most riveting, and from it Mugabe emerges as unquestionably one of history’s most canny, devious leaders.
Accompanied by a haunting soundtrack, the music is an achievement in itself, a mix of liberation, folk and contemporary sounds. It is Mugabe as not seen before…
“Robert Mugabe… What Happened?” aired on Saturday, 03 September at 22:30 CET on FX Only In Africa Season 2 on ZukuTV.