I met Robert Mugabe in the late 1970s. What he told me still haunts me. (Vox.com)

“We are not going to make the same mistake the rest of Black Africa has made,” Robert Mugabe told me in the late 1970s in an interview for Newsweek. “We are going to learn from their mistakes.”

We met in Mozambique, the headquarters for his guerrilla army, which was then locked in a seemingly interminable war against the white minority regime in Rhodesia. The conflict would claim an estimated 20,000 lives, most of them black nationalist guerrillas and African civilians, and was marked by terrible atrocities on both sides.

Tragically, Mugabe, who died Thursday at age 95, would make good on his promise to learn from the mistakes of fellow African leaders, turning into an art form the corruption and brutality that had plagued African nations since the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa won its independence in 1957.

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