Mr Mugabe’s turn came as chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement. Every- one found it rather amusing that the Cuban embassy had just bought the house in Harare next door to Ian Smith’s. Fidel Castro was coming and Smith volunteered to rent the Cubans his house for the convenience of it. Not only did Smith detest communists, but Castro sent troops to Africa to fight against the forces of reason and Christianity and inculcate blacks with nonsensical political ideas.
The Cubans didn’t take up the offer, not because they objected to it but because Mr Mugabe considered Castro a special visitor and gave him one of the nicest state villas built for the NAM summit. But the very idea of Fidel Castro sleeping in Smith’s bed, sitting on Smith’s toilet, eating at Smith’s table and puffing on his cigar in Smith’s armchair, surrounded by Smith’s memorabilia, was too marvellous for words.
The Cubans erected tall, dazzling security lights and huge telecommuni- cations aerials in the garden next to Smith’s house on Phillips Avenue. Even Smith had to live with new realities. He complained that the Cubans made rather a lot of noise for communists but, even more extraordinary for communists, they danced to salsa music, sang, drank much rum, laughed and seemed to enjoy life.
‘They’re obviously celebrating that they are not back home in Cuba,’ Smith told me with his lopsided grin.
They never invited him over and they never poked cigars through the hedge for him either, he said.
From Mutoko Madness, a memoir by Angus Shaw, page157.
Mutoko Madness is available on Amazon, iBooks and Troubadour UK