sallymugabe.jpgThe first heroine to be buried at the National Heroes’ Acre, her militant attitude and aversion to racial discrimination and oppression compelled her to organise and urge other women to join the liberation struggle.

Below is a profile of the late First Lady, Amai Sarah Francesca Sally Mugabe.

Born Sarah Francesca Hayfron in Ghana in 1931, Cde Sally went to Achimota Secondary School before qualifying as a teacher.  She met her future husband President Robert Mugabe at Takoradi Teacher Training College where they were both teaching.

They got married in Harare in 1961 and Cde Sally was immediately embodied in the nationalistic politics and sentiment then sweeping Zimbabwe.

Coming from an independent Ghana, Cde Sally was annoyed by open racial discrimination which was practiced in Rhodesia.

In December 1961, she was charged with sedition and sentenced to five years imprisonment after she had led a group of women to the Prime Minster’s office protesting against the 1961 constitution.

She appealed against the sentence and was restricted to her Harare home until hearing.

The appeal court never addressed her case because Cde Sally skipped the country into Tanzania where nationalist leaders intended to form a government in exile.

In 1964 she was blessed with a baby boy, Nhamodzenyika, a complicated pregnancy due to high blood pressure, lack of proper medical care and political uncertainty then shrouding the struggle.

The couple then decided to separate for the sake of the child with Cde Sally taking Nhamo to her parents in Ghana, while Cde Mugabe returned to Rhodesia where he was arrested and imprisoned on arrival.

Sadly, in December 1966 her son Nhamodzenyika died of cerebral malaria in Ghana. Cde Sally had to endure the agony of losing a son alone as the Rhodesian government refused to release Cde Mugabe to attend the funeral of his son.

When the couple finally reunited between 1967 and 1974, Cde Sally studied and worked in London were she campaigned and lobbied British Members of parliament for the release of political detainees in Rhodesia.

As the struggle intensified, Amai Sally assumed the role of mother figure and counselor of young guerrillas coming to Mozambique. She also canvassed financial and material support for the struggle. 

Cde Sally also championed the cause for women’s rights in Zanu PF. At the first Zanu PF Women’s Congress in 1978, she was elected Deputy Secretary of the Women’s League.

At independence, she was instrumental in transforming the Women’s League into a formidable force and pillar of Zanu PF.

Cde Sally Mugabe’s greatest and most memorable contribution to Zimbabwe is her tireless devotion to improving the welfare of children and the underprivileged members of society.

In 1981, she became the patron of Mutemwa Leprosy Centre in Mutoko and helped erase the social stigma associated with lepers. She also assumed patronage of many children’s centres including disabled and orphaned children.

Amai Sally Mugabe also initiated projects aimed at rehabilitating prostitutes. She also became the Executive Chairperson of the Child Survival and Development Foundation in Zimbabwe.

In 1989, she was elected the first Secretary of the United Zanu PF Women’s League as well as Secretary for Women’s Affairs in the Politburo.

Cde Sally Mugabe died of a kidney ailment on January 27 1992 and became the first heroine to be buried at the National Heroes Acre.