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Empty seats give Robert Mugabe fitting farewell in stadium funeral

Empty seats give Robert Mugabe fitting farewell in stadium funeralThey came in their thousands, but not – as hoped – in their tens of thousands. There were presidents and heads of government, but none from outside Africa. There was a fly past – but by only six planes. Robert Mugabe’s funeral was a subdued, low energy affair that reflected the host of conflicting emotions surrounding this most divisive of African statesman. It was a fitting send off for a man whose achievements as an African liberation hero and founding father of Zimbabwe will be forever marred by his legacy of economic collapse, international isolation, and political violence.   Harare's 60,000 seat Zimbabwe National Stadium was barely at a third of its capacity as Zimbabwe's military and civilian leadership, a small group of foreign dignitaries, and members of the Mugabe family paid their formal farewell to Mugabe at a five hour ceremony on Saturday. In one of the most discombobulating moments, President Emmerson Mnangagwa praised the man he betrayed and overthrew in a coup two years ago as "our revolutionary icon, statesman, leader, wartime commander, and former president." Robert Mugabe's coffin arrives for a state funeral at Harare's national stadium Credit:  Ben Curtis/AP He went on to pay tribute to Grace Mugabe, the late former president's widow and his political arch enemy, who sat silently throughout the ceremony. Serving and former presidents from Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Kenya, and South Africa, paid tribute to him as one of the last of a generation of pan African leaders and icons of the liberation struggle against colonialism. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasago, the dictator of Equatorial Guinea who has run a brutal and kleptocratic regime since 1979, opened the tributes to Mugabe as a "true African icon in the liberation of the continent from colonialism." Jerry Rawlings, the former president of Ghana, said "he consistently demonstrated his steadfast commitment to our vision of the Africa we want." Large parts of the 60,000 seat stadium were empty during the ceremony  Credit: Themba Hadebe/AP The Chinese and Russian governments appointed their ambassadors to read out tributes rather than sending dignitaries.   The loudest reception from the crowd was for Cyril Ramaphosa, the president of South Africa, who was booed throughout his speech until he issued an unreserved apology for the recent spate of attacks on migrant workers in South Africa, where thousands of Zimbabweans have moved to seek work.   At that point, the crowd switched to cheering. It was a rare moment of modern statesmanship in a day devoted to the past. After a 21 gun salute from the Zimbabwean army's howitzers and a flypast by six aircraft, the ceremony was over. There was no mention of his record of violence against opponents and allies alike, the thousands slaughtered in the massacres known as the Gukurahundi in the 1980s, or the vast wealth his family amassed while the country was reduced to penury.   In truth, most Zimbabweans are too preoccupied with day-to-day survival to give much thought to the man who liked to think of himself as their liberator. Zimbabwean president Emmerson Mnangagwa pays his last respects to Robert Mugabe Credit: SIPHIWE SIBEKO/Reuters The country is in the midst of an economic crisis that has seen running water cut off, electricity reduced to just a few hours a day, and the price of essentials from bread to petrol surge beyond the reach of most ordinary people. Biggie Mutendozora, 45, father of three and a barber, who lives in a working class Harare suburb and stayed away from the funeral, said he disliked Mr Mugabe, but “I do not want to speak bad of the dead." He added: "We got nothing except we all became poor. He was not a good leader." Even those who attended the funeral were preoccupied with daily struggles – although they tended to blame Mr Mnangagwa rather than his predecessor. “When he left office, bread was at two dollars a loaf. Transport was affordable, food was affordable. Right now we are all suffering,” said Fadzai Mutasa, a 42 year old from Harare who attended the funeral. She rejected the suggestion that she was attending as a kind of protest against president Mnangagwa, saying she had come only to pay tribute to Mugabe's "good works." Grace Mugabe walks to pay her last respects to her late husband Credit: SIPHIWE SIBEKO/Reuters But she then added: “Mugabe would understand when the people were suffering. The current leadership must hear the challenges facing the people – like he did.” It was a sentiment echoed by Itai Chikwenga, 30, who said she credited Mr Mugabe for improving womens’ rights,  then said: "Bread is now 10 dollars. Robert Mugabe would have said “enough is enough, make it one dollar. And it would have been one dollar.” Mugabe may get a less ambivalent reception when his body is flown to his home village of Kutama, a 90 minute drive northwest of Harare for a wake on Sunday. The extended Mugabe family and their neighbours have spent the past week putting up marquees and arranging seating and catering for thousands. Mugabe, who lavished spending on the local Catholic school where he studied as a child, is well respected here. But unease and confusion are following Mugabe literally to the grave.   Mourners hold a portrait of Robert Mugabe Credit: Ben Curtis/AP His body will not be laid to rest for a month, while a mausoleum is constructed at the Heroes Acre national monument, a cemetery where he himself insisted on burying liberation war heroes, including his first wife Sally. His family had wanted to bury him closer to Zvimba, where his mothers and brothers are buried in a patch of rocky ground in a secluded copse. Here there is no fence, no bombastic North-Korean designed monolith, and no armed guards. Only a cluster of black marble headstones shielded from the sun by swaying Massasa trees. In front of his mother and brothers, there is an unused plot just the right size for another modest grave. It is a place where you can imagine a divisive spirit might find rest. But there is no sign of digging.



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Jeered over attacks, S.Africa's president apologises at Mugabe funeral

Jeered over attacks, S.Africa's president apologises at Mugabe funeralSouth Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa was jeered and whistled at on Saturday during his speech at Zimbabwe ex-leader Robert Mugabe’s funeral before he apologised for recent xenophobic attacks. At least 12 people have been killed this month in a surge in violence and mob attacks against foreign-owned businesses in and around Johannesburg, South Africa’s largest city. A wave of jeers, boos and whistles interrupted Ramaphosa at the Harare national stadium as he started his eulogy at the state funeral for Mugabe, who died age 95 last week.



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Zimbabwe's Mugabe honored at state funeral, burial delayed

Zimbabwe's Mugabe honored at state funeral, burial delayedAfrican heads of state joined thousands of Zimbabweans at a state funeral Saturday for Zimbabwe’s founding president, Robert Mugabe , whose burial has been delayed for at least a month until a special mausoleum can be built for his remains. More than 10 African leaders and several former presidents attended the service and viewing of the body of Mugabe, who died last week in Singapore at age 95, at the National Sports Stadium in the capital, Harare. Most of those attending were supporters of Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party.



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Zimbabwe announces Mugabe funeral amid row over burial site

Zimbabwe announces Mugabe funeral amid row over burial siteZimbabwe’s government has announced a date for Robert Mugabe’s funeral amid a row over where the former president will be buried.  A government memo declared the funeral will be at Harare National Sports stadium on Saturday, September 14th but gave no location for the burial to follow the next day.  Members of Mr Mugabe’s family are battling with the ruling Zanu PF party over its plan to bury Zimbabwe’s liberator-turned-despot in a cemetery for heroes of the liberation war in the capital.  The deceased dictator has a grave ready next to his first wife Sally in Heroes Acre, a North-Korea designed graveyard also home to prestigious Zanu PF supporters.  However, elements of Mr Mugabe’s family want him interred in their rural village in Zvimba district, about 50 miles northwest of Harare.  “We want him buried here. Heroes, for what?” Mr Mugabe’s cousin, Josephine Jorincha, told AFP in the village of Kutama.    Josephine Jaricha, 72, in Kutama Credit: AFP Mr Mugabe’s nephew, Leo, who is the family’s head of burial preparations, told the Telegraph that he was negotiating with village chiefs over the final site.   He said that Mr Mugabe’s toppling in a 2017 coup by his former right-hand man Emerson Mnangagwa had rendered the 95-year-old ambivalent about being buried in the Zanu PF shrine.   However, Leo said that he believed Mr Mugabe would eventually be buried in Heroes’ Acre.  “I am sure he will be buried at Heroes’ Acre,” he said, but “we are with the chiefs, we have to consult.” There is some surprise at the village chiefs’ importance in the burial negotiations as Mr Mugabe’s father was from Malawi, and deserted his family, meaning his son had no role within traditional Shona society. Jealousy Mawarire, a senior Mugabe loyalist said that although he believed Heroes’ Acre would be the burial place, there were “disturbances” within the family because of Mr Mugabe’s wishes to be buried “at home.” A report appeared in a privately-owned Zimbabwe weekly recently which claimed Mr Mugabe told family members he wanted to be buried next to his mother in Kutama. The former president led an uprising against white minority rule in the 1970s but left the economy in tatters over an increasingly despotic 37-year reign characterised by corruption and repression.



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A man lost his wife in the El Paso Walmart shooting, then his car was stolen during her funeral. His community came together to replace it.

A man lost his wife in the El Paso Walmart shooting, then his car was stolen during her funeral. His community came together to replace it.Antonio Basco's Ford Escape was stolen after a funeral for his wife, Margie Reckard, in El Paso. The community banded together to find him a new one.



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Hundreds of strangers queue for El Paso shooting victim’s funeral after husband feared no one would show up

Hundreds of strangers queue for El Paso shooting victim’s funeral after husband feared no one would show upJust about every morning for the past two weeks, Antonio Basco has risen before dawn to buy as many floral bouquets as he can fit in his car and carried them to a makeshift memorial for the victims of the mass shooting in El Paso.He places the flowers one by one around the white wooden cross for Margie Reckard, his wife. This is his solemn ritual, born of grief and unmooring: tending her garden.“She loved any kind of flowers. I could walk down the street and find flowers that had been run over a thousand times, and she would think it looked like a million dollars,” Mr Basco said on Friday morning.Soon after, the La Paz Faith Memorial and Spiritual Centre in El Paso would be spilling over with bouquets, as hundreds of strangers came to pay their respects to Ms Reckard at her visitation and prayer service.Mr Basco had invited the public to the service this week, worried that he would have to bury his partner of 22 years alone.Ms Reckard, one of the 22 people killed in the attack on 3 August, has children, but Mr Basco has no direct relatives.When Perches Funeral Homes, which was handling Ms Reckard’s arrangements, learned of Mr Basco’s intentions, it extended an open invitation to the service on its Facebook page.The response was unimaginable. The funeral home received about 10,000 messages and tributes, and more than 900 floral arrangements.Perches Funeral commented that the funeral was to be relocated to a larger venue "due to the overwhelming response of the community". They sat along the front of the chapel, below the stained-glass windows, on every table in the foyer, in the fellowship hall and on the staircase. They were sent from across America. New Hampshire. Oregon. Kentucky.Some came from Dayton, Ohio, the site of a mass shooting less than a day after the attack in El Paso.And crowds filled the centre to capacity. Hundreds stood in a line snaking around the church and on the blocks beyond.“This is amazing,” Mr Basco said as he walked down the centre aisle, surveying the unfamiliar faces.“You took a stranger off the street,” he added, and showed him love.Victor and Mary Perales from El Paso said they had come to support Mr Basco because they knew something about sudden loss: their oldest son died unexpectedly two years ago.Mr Perales wrote a letter to give to Mr Basco offering his condolences but also offering friendship.“We know how hard it was for us, and we were surrounded by family. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to go through this alone,” said Victor Perales, a retired truck driver. “I said we are going to this funeral to give him a hug and let him know we can be his family.”The moment Alicia Solomon Click heard about Mr Basco, she knew she was taking a road trip. The professional singer drove six hours from Sante Fe, New Mexico, and had stood for two hours in the visitation line.“I am here to tell Mr Basco for every crazy nut there are thousands of us that love him,” said Ms Solomon Click.For part of the service, a mariachi band played as Mr Basco and Ms Reckard’s relatives greeted and hugged guests.Mr Basco met some of his wife’s relatives for the first time. When a performer began singing “Amor Eterno”, or Love Eternal, much of the church sang along.“This was an assault on all of us,” Fred Valle said of the shooting. “You don’t have to know him to feel for him.”Before bishop Harrison Johnson delivered the eulogy, he looked out into the standing-room-only sanctuary and turned to Mr Basco. “Look at all the friends you have now,” the bishop said, to thunderous applause.He preached from Matthew 14:22. Faith will get you through anything, he assured the crowd, even something as evil as the Walmart massacre. He talked about a united El Paso that was not defined or divided by colour — a direct answer to a racist attack.“Whatever you do, do not stop walking through the storm,” he said. “Don’t stop because you will walk out of the storm.”Ms Reckard’s children and grandchildren also attended the service. Her oldest son, Dean, described her as loving and kind.“She would have been overwhelmed to see all the love El Paso showed her,” he said.Mr Basco and Ms Reckard met more than two decades ago at a bar in Nebraska. He was immediately smitten.“I took one look at her eyes, and it was over with,” Mr Basco said before the service Friday, tears welling.They settled in El Paso about nine years ago, although their hobby was visiting places by train.Ms Reckard, who was a grocery store cashier in Nebraska, had several health issues, including Parkinson’s disease.Mr Basco worked at a rodeo at one point but now runs a car wash business. He was outside fixing his truck when Ms Reckard left for Walmart that Saturday morning.“She was a lady,” he said, “and she was the love of my life.”Mr Basco said that when he wants to feel closest to his wife, he heads to the makeshift memorial and talks to her. Sometimes he returns at night and sleeps next to the cross, hardly visible among the piles of flowers and mementos.The New York Times



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Hundreds answer husband's viral post to attend funeral of El Paso mass shooting victim

Hundreds answer husband's viral post to attend funeral of El Paso mass shooting victimMargie Reckard, one of 22 killed in the El Paso Walmart mass shooting, was honored by more than a thousand people.



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Husband of woman killed in mass shooting invites public to her funeral because 'he has no other family'

Husband of woman killed in mass shooting invites public to her funeral because 'he has no other family'The husband of a woman who was killed in a mass shooting in El Paso has invited the public to her funeral as he says he has no other family.Antonio Basco’s wife Margie Reckard was one of 22 people shot dead by a lone gunman at a Walmart supermarket on 3 August.He “welcomes anyone to attend” her funeral in the Texas city on Friday afternoon, according to the undertakers arranging the service.Mr Basco and his wife, who he has described as an “angel”, had been married for 22 years.“He had no other family. Let’s show him and his wife some El Paso love,” wrote Perches Funeral Home in a Facebook post which has been shared more than 9,000 times.Hundreds of people responded sympathetically to the post. Some pledged to attend the service, while others from out of town offered to send flowers and cards.Many more posted on a tribute wall on the funeral director’s website.Members of Ms Reckard’s family will be travelling from out of town for the funeral, according to KTSM. She was born in Baltimore and had two sons and a daughter, the El Paso-based news channel reported.“We want to thank the people of El Paso because without them I don’t know what we would have done,” Ms Reckard’s daughter-in-law Hilda Nuzzi told the station. “Everyone is amazing.”Mr Basco told news channel KFOX 14 last week his wife was “an awesome lady”.“When I met her she was an angel and she still is,” he said. “I mean you didn’t even have to be there to talk to her, you could just look at how she was, how she acted, how she presented herself.“When we first met, that feeling came to each one of us, to each other, and we’ve been together ever since. We were gonna live together and die together that was our plan.”Patrick Crusius, 21, of Allen, Texas, has been charged with capital murder after confessing to being the shooter.He told police had been “targeting Mexicans” at the supermarket, which is known to be popular which shoppers who cross the nearby border from the city of Juarez.Of those who died, 13 were American, eight were Mexican and one was German.



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Hundreds attend funeral of Israeli soldier stabbed to death

Hundreds attend funeral of Israeli soldier stabbed to deathHundreds of people attended Thursday’s funeral of an 18-year-old Israeli soldier who was found dead hours earlier with stab wounds near a Jewish settlement in the West Bank. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the killing as a terror attack and vowed the killers would be brought to justice. Israeli troops raided a nearby Palestinian village and the military said it was sending reinforcements to the West Bank.



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Boko Haram kills 23 mourners after Nigeria funeral

Boko Haram kills 23 mourners after Nigeria funeralBoko Haram gunmen on Saturday killed 23 mourners in Borno state in Nigeria’s restive northeast after they attended a funeral, local militia and residents said. At around 1030 GMT, the attackers on three motorbikes opened fire on a group of men as they walked back from a funeral in Nganzai district near the state capital Maiduguri, local militia leader Bunu Bukar Mustapha said.



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