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One wonders how he does it. Robert Mugabe turned 92 last week. Mugabe is the only president Zimbabwe—the southern African country—has ever known since independence in 1980. At the beginning, Zimbabwe was seen as one of Africa’s post-colonial success stories. In the last two decades, however, the country has gone from being a dazzling hub marked by progressive social policies to a country ravaged by political and economic crises.  

It was reported that 1 million was spent to put up a lavish party that welcomed 50, 000 guests. Mugabe’s most recent festivities took place during the country’s worst drought in more than two decades. The government has appealed for nearly $2.25 billion to help pay for grain to alleviate an impending humanitarian crisis and in February declared a state of disaster.

To outside observers, it can be hard to reconcile how Mugabe still manages to occupy such a beloved position in the Zimbabwean national psyche. In the West, he’s seen as a reviled dictator, whose actions have resulted in the country being subjected to more than a decade of targeted US sanctions. At home, he continues to be the subject of hero worship. Many in attendance at his party wore T-shirts with images of his face and messages that said ‘We love you Bob’ or ‘Bob is a legend.’

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