Big bash for ‘birthday boy’

PRESIDENT 8962Cletus Mushanawani in Victoria Falls

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The smoke thundered in Mosi-ao-Tunya yesterday as this idyllic resort town – home to one of the Seven Wonders of the World – paid tribute to an icon of liberation for all oppressed people.

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President Mugabe turned 91 on February 21, 2015 and this was arguably the biggest birthday celebration yet as an estimated 20 000 people converged in Victoria Falls to celebrate his birthday together with the First Family.

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The mega celebrations, which included a gala after the cutting of the cake, were fittingly huge for a man who has resisted a Western-sponsored onslaught for the better part of two decades only to emerge stronger via a landslide electoral victory in 2013, followed by elevation to Sadc Chair in 2014, and then election as African Union Chair just a month before his 91st birthday.

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And the “birthday boy” was in fine fettle, keeping the throngs enthralled for well over an hour in his official address and showing the lie to those who claim he is not up to the job via a lucid delivery that spelt out his unwavering commitment to the empowerment of all Zimbabweans and indeed every African.

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Everything was building up to a splendid day, with the country’s highways chock full of cars adorned with flags, stickers and flyers celebrating this iconic son of the soil.

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By 6am, the road leading to Elephant Hills Resort was teeming with people eager to share a great milestone with a great man.

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And when festivities started, Minister of State for Matabeleland North Cain Mathema — who governs the host province — said of the gentle showers that cooled temperatures and made the atmosphere perfect for the carnival ahead: “President Mugabe has brought us rains here. I think even the crocodiles in Zambezi River sat down and agreed to bring the rains from Victoria Falls to bless our President’s visit here.”

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The colourful regalia now associated with President Mugabe’s public engagements were in full display, and the skies too were painted all manner of bright hues when 91 balloons were released into the air when the man of the moment arrived.

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Musicians, including Batswana artiste Slizer (who views Zimbabwe as her home away from home), complemented the colours with joyous sounds, belting out tributes to the “birthday boy”.

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But it was Masvingo-based Mbungo Stars who stole the thunder, their trumpets threatening to outdo the roar of the Victoria Falls just downstream of Elephant Hills Resort.

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So powerful was the music that the First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe got to her feet to join the multitudes in dance and celebration.

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And as this phase of the celebrations wound down, the “birthday boy” looked well and truly entertained.

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“I would like to conclude by paying tribute to the Youth National Executive for putting such a good act together as they went about organising this year’s 21st February Movement Celebrations. Through them, I also want to sincerely thank everyone who played a part in making this day the success it has been.

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“Not all could come to Victoria Falls, so I am equally thankful to those that supported me from their homes,” President Mugabe said.