When Robert Mugabe was stripped of his honorary degree from Edinburgh University

When the late Robert Mugabe was awarded an honorary degree from Edinburgh University in 1984, he was hailed as "one of the great figures of modern Africa".

Friday, 6th September 2019, 3:58 pm
Robert Mugabe, the former president of Zimbabwe, received an honorary law degree from Edinburgh University in 1984. PIC: TSPL.

But more than 20 years later, the university withdrew the honour from the Zimbabwean president following pressure from students and campaigners angered by his human rights record.

The decision, taken in 2007, was the first of its kind in the history of the ancient institution.

In this same year, Zimbabwe was in the grip of devastating government-enforced price cuts as inflation spiralled to 20,000 per cent.

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The honorary degree was revoked in 2007 following years of campaigning by those angered by his human rights record. It was the first time the university had made such a move. PIC: TSPL.

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Earlier, Mugabe had been praised for broadening access to education for the black majority and it was on this note that Edinburgh University awarded him the honour.

"The removal of this honorary degree shows the people of Zimbabwe that we recognise their struggle," Edinburgh University rector Mark Ballard said at the time.

"Mr. Mugabe will no longer be able to claim recognition from our prestigious university," he added.

The University of Massachusetts and Michigan State University soon followed Edinburgh's example and in 2008, Mugabe was annulled by the Queen over his honorary knighthood which was given to him in 1994.