President Robert Mugabe’s first public appearance after the military takeover in Zimbabwe will have puzzled some.
Here he was at a university graduation ceremony given the authority to hand students their degrees, almost as if nothing had happened.
It tells us two things.
Firstly, this was political theatre. The suggestion being that behind-the-scenes negotiations over his exit deal are cordial.
But it was also more than spectacle. It showed that President Mugabe’s opponents want to treat the elder statesman with dignity.
As in much of Africa, respecting your elders is ingrained in Zimbabwe’s culture.
And 93-year-old Robert Mugabe, a liberation fighter who became the country’s leader at independence in 1980, is seen as the father of the nation.
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