On November 21st 2017, Robert Gabriel Mugabe resigned as the President of Zimbabwe after being in power for 37 years. This resignation came a week after Mr Mugabe had been placed under house arrest by the nation’s military. Jacob Mudenda, the Speaker of Parliament read out the letter that stated that Mugabe would be resigning as President for, “the welfare of the people of Zimbabwe and the need for a peaceful transfer of power.” After the announcement was made, Parliament erupted into victorious cheers, song and dance. There were extraordinary scenes of jubilation on the streets of Harare, the State’s capital, as people celebrated.

Below are 13 Zimbabwean Student’s reactions to Mugabe resignation.

1. Joy Kwinjo, Yale University, Statistics and Data Science

"This is something that we’ve all been wanting for a long time but have been too scared to talk about and too discouraged to even dream about. I mean, even activists are shocked! I’m excited to see what a Zimbabwe without Mugabe is going to look like. I’m excited that going back home [after] graduation to settle in Zimbabwe might actually be an option for me and many other fellow Zimbabweans in the diaspora.

My one concern is that people will become silent again and we’ll slip back to what we were just two weeks ago, just with a different president. I hope and pray that the people of Zimbabwe keep speaking their minds and sharing their thoughts so that we do not let another leadership team in the government abuse us like we have already been abused, or maybe even worse."

2. Tinotenda Mutsvangwa, York University, Political Science

"Yesterday will forever be a monumental and cherished day for ALL Zimbabweans across [the] political divide! [Until] now it [felt] surreal and too good to be true! [It was] a proud moment which allowed for a true display of unity. All thanks be to God because Lord knows we had waited on this day for a very long time! As a nation we can now afford to be optimistic and look toward the future. Personally, as a student, l actually now look forward to going back home and playing a part in building a new Zimbabwe. A Zimbabwe where our roads are fixed, our economy is booming, there are plenty of jobs and lastly a Zimbabwe where we are free to choose and do what we please."

3. Munya Munyati, Middlebury College, Political Science and Film

"I think it goes without saying that this is a momentous occasion and being rather isolated in rural Vermont, I’ve done much of my rejoicing vicariously through friends and family elsewhere where the celebrations are vivacious. This indeed is a big step in the right direction and a shred of hope that we, as Zimbabweans, have been long searching for. However, this is only the beginning and there’s still much work to be done. I remain hopeful that this momentum will continue until we return to being the “Bread Basket of Africa” as we once were."

4. Simukai Gomwe, Memorial University, Business Administration

"I was honestly so speechless and filled with mixed emotions when I found out the former President Mugabe finally resigned. It's a mixture of happiness and relief and also a bit of concern as to what will follow next. All we want as a nation is change and his resignation is the best indication that positive change is on its way. It's moments like this where I wish I was back home celebrating with my family, friends and fellow citizens. Yesterday was proof that there really is light at the end of every dark tunnel and I am looking forward to helping build a better Zimbabwe."

5. Rudorwamwari Nyakanda, St. Olaf College, Cyber Security and French

"I'm excited for what's to come for Zimbabwe. This change happened because Zimbabweans decided to set aside their differences to take down the only president most Zimbabweans have known. I hope this peaceful attitude continues when we start working on the new constitution and government."

6. Kudakwashe Paul Mushaike, Pomona College, Computer Science

"I was relieved that we can start fresh in Zimbabwe and pave [the] way for reconciliation. I also strongly acknowledge that we have a long way to go until the country is fully restored. Apart from the obvious, there is really nothing to celebrate. We still have a broken economy to deal with and a whole lot of mental shackles to break. Given the state of our people, we could have a perfect country given to us but with time we would take it back to ruin."

7. Prince Herbert, Pietzer College, Quantitative Economics

"l am extremely excited to see where Zimbabwe goes from here. I am pleased to witness one of the most peaceful protests in the world done by concerned citizens to rebuild our beloved Zimbabwe. But that is just step one. Whoever will be elected president next year has a lot of work to make our economy stand on its feet again and once again be the breadbasket of Africa."

8. Matipa Mutoti, Hartwick College, Political Science

"Robert Mugabe resigning is truly a second independence…not one from colonial [rule] but from dictatorial [rule].When he came into power he was a hero, well educated and emulated. He was the perfect person to lead us through a transition from colonialism to independence. He will always be remembered for this important role he played. However, after 37 years of leadership it is evident that change was soon to come. This is a momentous day for us Zimbabweans. I understand that there are still many challenges that lie ahead of us but we have hope for this fresh start. Seeing all the images of people in the streets of Harare showed the true Zimbabwean spirit of peace, unity and hope for the future. Being a political science student here in the United States, l can truly say l look forward to going back home a playing a meaningful role in my country. l look forward to being a part of shaping this new Zimbabwe which is a symbol of freedom that proclaims victory, as stated in our national anthem. I hope [that] God continues to protect and bless our land."

9. Maakwe Cumanzala, St. Catherine University, Economics and Mathematics

"As a "born-free", I never imagined a day when my people would freely march on the streets and express themselves without any fear. I think that was the most empowering part of this whole process. I hope that going forward, this right is not taken away from the people. I think [President Mugabe's] resignation brings about a fresh start for our country. I am optimistic that a combination of a strong servant leadership and avenue for public opinion will lead to a prosperous Zimbabwe."

10. Kudakwashe Manhando, Simon Fraser University, Communication

"A short commentary on the Zimbabwe issue would be injustice to the complexity of the matter but the change is welcomed all across the nation and is widely viewed as positive . There is, however, some skepticism on the issue of trading one dictator for another, in that Mugabe and Munangagwa were long time allies and friends. Moreover, where Mugabe was the head honcho giving the orders, Munangwana was the one who ensured and monitored that those orders were executed. So, in essence, one may comment that we have a cut from the same cloth. Other concerns are with the ruling party - ZANU-PF. The country’s situation has been dwindling for years prior to this event, and not only because of Mugabe alone. The former president created a system, a regime, that now reeks of corruption. [This regime] is not only vested at the top echelons of the government, but trickles down to your lowest ranking police officer. The results of this are a loss of trust in the government and the justice system. However, I must say this is a great simplification of the matter, my personal opinion will be fully described on my YouTube Channel and daily posts of twitter (@kudamanhando) for anyone interested to understand the phenomenon from [a] Zimbabwean's perspective. Nonetheless, it is important to note that the populace is very hopeful for a future that is prosperous, and greener than the pastures they currently graze on."

11. Mutsa Chirimo, Whitworth University, Chemistry

"Despite the concern many have for the future of Zimbabwe, I am happy. I felt for the first time the feeling my grandparents must have had 37 years ago. We are free and we have tasted democracy. There is no turning back from that. Now that our chains are off, Zimbabwe can move towards greatness."

12. Theresa Vimbanayi Chowa, Whitworth University, Economics and Peace Studies

"Mugabe’s resignation is a turning point in Zimbabwe’s history and for our generation. The fact that he actually resigned after military [insistence] was quite surprising because the country’s military has never intervened against him. I am pleased with his resignation but at the same time I cannot help but be a bit skeptical about the direction in which we are heading. The country is in need of economic reform and now we need politicians who are focused mostly on economic development and wealth building. The era of the decolonization leaders is coming to an end and we should embrace the change. I hope that whoever takes the role of the presidency takes this into consideration and moves away from Mugabe’s anti-Western rhetoric that has done so much damage to the country’s international relations."

13. Marie Kadurira, St. Olaf College, Biology and Political Science

"For me, Mugabe resigning has given me motivation I didn’t know I was lacking. I have always mused about going home to fix the healthcare [system] but somewhere in the back of my mind I guess I knew it probably wouldn’t happen because of the way things were with our leader. But now, now it’s something I can actually do, it’s something that I can visualize and work towards."

This is a truly victorious moment for many Zimbabweans as we are looking forward to a brighter future under governance which has promised incorporation of democratic values. While there are concerns that Mugabe’s legacy might be perpetuated by the new leadership, many have dared to be optimistic instead, choosing to hope that this could indeed be the dawn of a new Zimbabwe.

*Quotes have been edited for clarity

Lead image credit: Tanaka Mujaranji