Price: $310.00

    Code: 2416

    Directed by Simon Bright
    2011, 84 Minutes
    Purchase: $310 | Classroom Rental: $125

    Once hailed as a national hero, Robert Mugabe - Zimbabwe's first and only elected political leader - is today widely considered one of Africa's most brutal dictators. What happened? This documentary offers an in-depth examination of Mugabe's life, policies and staggering transformation.

    Through extensive archival footage, illuminating interviews with the country's preeminent political figures and analysts, as well as victims of Mugabe's despotism, director Simon Bright tracks Mugabe's political career while offering a thorough history of contemporary Zimbabwe from its struggle to gain independence to the present day.

    As he first comes to power in 1980, Mugabe appears as the national hero, leading the nation, healing the wounds of the war for independence. He's the president who puts an end to the white-majority rule. Mugabe makes significant social progress, providing free education and health care, and redistributing land. The people and the economy of Zimbabwe flourish.

    However, as early as 1982, the first signs of Mugabe's insatiable thirst for power become apparent. As the economic conditions worsen, Mugabe gradually neutralizes his political opponents, muzzles the press and crushes uprisings through terror and massacres perpetuated by an extremely violent special army known as the Fifth Brigade.

    By 2002, Mugabe uses widespread acts of violence, extensive propaganda and rampant corruption to secure another term in office. In 2008, he famously declares: "Democracy in Africa, it's a difficult proposition because always the opposition will want much more than what it deserves... the gun is mightier than the pen".

    Has Robert Mugabe, over the course of his rule, undergone a genuine transformation, from firm believer in social progress to brutal dictator; or, was his original ethos mere posturing? Robert Mugabe... What Happened? provides informative support for each argument, while presenting an analysis of how terror and propaganda are used to take and hold power.

    Subjects & Collections

    Festivals & Awards

    * World Premiere Encounters South Africa International Documentary Festival World Premiere, 2011
    * International Documentary Film Festival, 2011
    * Official Competition, FESPACO,2013


    " A powerful, informative, and cautionary tale. Suitable for college courses in cultural anthropology, anthropology of colonial independence, political anthropology, and African studies, as well as general audiences".
    - The Anthropology Review Database

    " Given the press restrictions, propaganda and suppression, it seemed the full story could never be told. That is, until now. Using a combination of rare footage and interviews with key individuals, the documentary Robert Mugabe, What Happened? gives real insight and context to one of the tragedies of modern Southern Africa. A must-see for anyone who cares about Africa". - The South African

    " A powerful documentary… The film is professionally done and, at only 84 minutes running time, covers a good deal of ground… With appropriate supporting materials this film might fit nicely into courses on African studies, peace studies or political science.” –Thomas Morgan, The Middle Ground Journal