While observers of Zimbabwe’s recent political transition focused on the role of former President Robert Mugabe’s wife, Grace Mugabe, in his downfall, some longtime Mugabe associates noted that his first wife, Sally, may have played a much larger, more positive role for Zimbabwe. Sally died in 1992 when she was 60-years-old but remains adored by the public. She won admiration the world over for her struggle against Apartheid-era minority rule in what was then Rhodesia. She formed a deep friendship with my mother and was godmother to my brother, Muhammad Ali. My mother remembers her as a loyal friend with boundless strength, compassion and integrity. In many ways, Sally, who is still widely regarded as the mother of Zimbabwe, was the antithesis of her despotic husband. Her compassion and simplicity were always considered a powerful counterweight to her husband’s caprice which only fully revealed itself after her untimely death. In spite of being the First Lady of Zimbabwe from 1987 to 1992, she had few pretensions of grandeur and won hearts with her warmth and humility. Following her passing, Robert Mugabe’s presidency was characterised by increasing repression, violence and corruption. At the start of his presidency in 1987, Mugabe eschewed the politics of revenge for his newly liberated country. He initially protected the country’s white farmers, viewing their agricultural skills as an invaluable asset. But over the years, absolute power transformed him into a ruthless dictator A simplicity loving woman who suffered during her husband’s political career, in many ways Sally stayed more true to the principles of equality behind the revolution than her husband did, as later events showed. During her time as First Lady of Zimbabwe, Sally founded the Zimbabwe Child Survival Movement dedicated to children’s welfare, the marginalised and the disenfranchised. Dedicated to the cause of Zimbabwe’s liberation, she was imprisoned, exiled and separated from her 3-year-old son, Nhamodzenyika, who died of cerebral malaria. Sally’s health suffered gravely during her incarceration. She developed serious kidney disease which led to an early death. Following her passing, Robert Mugabe’s presidency was characterised by increasing repression, violence and corruption. At the start of his presidency which began in 1987, Mugabe eschewed the politics of revenge for his newly liberated country. He initially protected the country’s white farmers, viewing their agricultural skills as an invaluable asset. But over the years, absolute power transformed him into a ruthless dictator. A beautiful country which was once the breadbasket of Africa, Zimbabwe was run into the ground. Its currency is now worthless, agriculture and trade continue to languish and poverty is widespread. Following Mugabe’s resignation, a new day is dawning for Zimbabwe’s people. The country’s future may now be shaped by a younger generation of Zimbabweans, a generation that might do well to remember the legacy of a woman who shared Mugabe’s name but whose dreams for her country were sadly never realised. The writer is the founding editor of Blue Chip magazine. She tweets @MashaalGauhar Published in Daily Times, November 29th 2017.