A Zimbabwe activist breaking down in tears of joy after Robert Mugabe’s resignation has embodied the celebrations across the country that have welcomed the end of his 37-year rule.
Thousands of people have poured onto the streets of Harare to celebrate the 93-year-old quitting by letter on Tuesday. Mugabe has been in power since independence from the UK in 1980 and transformed a prosperous nation into an economic basket case.
As footage showed cars beeping and people dancing as they waved flags, one woman who appeared on the BBC captured the mood.
When asked by reporter Ben Brown what the end of Mugabe meant to her, the unnamed woman said:
“We did not want Mugabe at all. We were tired of this man, we are so glad he has gone. We don’t want him any more and, yes, today is victory. It is victory in our hearts and victory for our children. I’m so sorry ...”
You can watch he reaction below:
“I think pretty much everybody in Zimbabwe is crying,” said Barnes as she paused. The correspondent then asked if she thought she would live to see this day. She replied:
“I never thought I would. I am an activist and I have been fighting and speaking for the people, and I’ve been saying to the people if it is not for my generation it is for my children’s generation. I have two children who are in school. Every day you wake up, and you don’t know where to get food, you don’t know whether you’ve got enough, you have mouths to feed. It has been the worst experience.
“People are scattered all over the world. The word family does not mean anything to us anymore because families are all over the world, in England and America. They only see each other on the internet so for us this is what we have always wanted. We don’t want him any more.”
During his reign, Mugabe took the once-rich country to economic ruin and kept his grip on power through repression of opponents, although he styled himself as the Grand Man of African politics and kept the admiration of many people across Africa.
Mugabe’s stunning downfall in around a week is likely to send shockwaves across Africa, where a number of entrenched strongmen, from Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni to Democratic Republic of Congo’s Joseph Kabila, are facing mounting pressure to quit.