First Lady has zeal for education: President
Tendai Mugabe Senior Reporter
President Mugabe has said the First Lady Dr Grace Mugabe has a zeal for education which has seen her working hard for her academic achievements, including the recent Doctorate she acquired from the University of Zimbabwe. Addressing guests at a fundraising gala in honour of Dr Mugabe’s Golden Jubilee held at the First Family’s Blue Roof residence in Harare on Saturday, President Mugabe chronicled his wife’s long journey in education until she obtained her doctorate degree.
He said the First Lady always wanted to experiment with difficult things and she always came out with exceptional results.
“She had heard that at the university there was a department of Confucius studies led by a Chinese professor,” said President Mugabe.
“She said she wanted to do a degree in Chinese language, Chinese history and culture. I said ‘no you can’t do a degree in Chinese, that language is very difficult’ and she said ‘I will do it’.
“So, she was having lessons here. The professor will be coming here every other day for a given length of time.”
President Mugabe said the First Lady later went to China to graduate with a degree in Chinese.
“Then she would go to China, attend lessons there for a given period — about two and half to three years,” he said. “She wrote that degree in Chinese, Chinese history and passed. The proof of it, a Bachelor’s Degree. The proof of it was that each time we have Chinese visitors she could talk to them in Chinese. Fluent. She had mastered Chinese and I wondered that this woman, that language on paper its sticks put together.
“Little sticks put here, two or three or four and you master that — and she baffled me. She still baffles me because I could not have definitely mastered that language in the manner she did.”
President Mugabe left everyone in stitches when he said: “So, I could never say stop it to her.”
After graduating in Chinese, President Mugabe said the First Lady raised the bar and now wanted to study for a doctorate degree.
“Then later she said she wanted to do research and this time under the University of Zimbabwe and do a doctorate, doctoral degree,” he said.
“I said ‘but a doctoral degree, you need to have read quite widely’ and she said ‘yes I will do that. I will take my time’. There she was. You need also to have support of lecturers. Someone will be appointed by the university to guide you.
“All that was in place and she covered quite a number of subjects including psychology. You used to read the chapters that she wrote and I wondered at the depth of knowledge she had acquired. True, the university called her when time had come, put questions to her, all the oral part and I was told she had gone through and the results overall with dissertation thesis was accepted and there she was.
“She has emerged with a doctoral degree at the University of Zimbabwe. Again, when I thought she wouldn’t do it and wanted to advise her otherwise she said no, she wouldn’t be stopped. So, when she has made up her mind to do a thing she would do it.
“From the teachings of the past in our schools, VaMachinga (Gabriel), who was a teacher, taught her in the primary school, has given us his own description of what he remembers of what she was and what she did, how she behaved at school.
“But during those days, it has died now, all our girls were taught how to knit, how to sew, how to cook in a simple way. I tell you, there is no week which goes without her taking to the knitting, do they call them needles or what? She is always using her fingers at home and you know knitting is quite laborious when you look at the women doing it. But she is at it.”
President Mugabe said Dr Mugabe’s philanthropic work in Mazowe was out of her moral commitment to the less privileged and was not motivated by political ambition.
Despite the First Lady’s efforts, President Mugabe said, some people were not appreciative and conveniently chose to be critical of such good work.
“When this is done, unfortunately you get some people being critical,” he said. “They think one is doing it in order to curry favour; one is doing it for political reasons and so on and so on. And, avoid accepting and acknowledging that one is doing it for the love of humanity, for the love of it, for purposes of helping to save humanity.
“If these children were left to die or where not given the circumstances they are in, I think certainly they would not have survived to the extent that they have.
“What she (Amai Mugabe) is doing in Mazowe, she is doing it for the country, for the people, for us and not for herself. Yes, she has that zeal. She has that moral commitment which we don’t have, which many don’t have to assist children who are abandoned and she has taken to it that way.
“It is that sense of sacrifice that she has also, sense of giving herself as a helper or can we say in quotes, saviour of the children who otherwise would have faced death.”