Robert Mugabe...What Happened?

ROBERT MUGABE  what happened ?(2012) Documentary 85 mins Directed by Simon Bright. Produced by Mike Auret and Simon Bright. Theatrical release Germany, UK, South Africa. TV release: Arte, DRTV Denmark,NRK Norway,ORF


The title ROBERT MUGABE,  what happened ? came to me when in prison in Harare in 2004 and the question in the title arose from my earlier support for Robert  Mugabe. In my mind the question was “Why would a man fight to free his country and then destroy it ?” In 2009 that I returned incognito to Zimbabwe to begin making the film, slipping through the porous Botswana/Zimbabwe border post at Plumtree. A growing essentialist nationalism driven by Mugabe’s rhetorical skill had narrowed the political and creative horizons of Zimbabwe and a version of identity politics was taking hold that was reminiscent of the form of Rhodesian nationalism that I knew well. (Raftopoulos,B. (2004), Ranger, T.(2013). 

The trade unionist based opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), was violently targeted as tools of whites and of British imperialism. The story of Robert Mugabe is told by people who knew Mugabe well: one was at school with him; one had served in his cabinet for twenty years; another was a veteran of the war of liberation based in Mozambique under Mugabe’s leadership.At the end of the film they do not agree about “what happened”. I see the film as a celebration of the moving image archives of Zimbabwe; the earliest images being filmed in 1933. Music once again plays a vital role in the story telling.