By Anyway Yotamu.
26 December 2019 marks the 40th anniversary of the death of a gallant son of the soil and former ZANLA Commander, Josiah Magama Tongogara.
He died six days after the Lancaster House Agreement was signed. An extremely sad message was conveyed to all the the freedom fighters and the people of Zimbabwe that the forty-one-year-old Tongogara was killed in a car accident in Mozambique on the 26th of December 1979.
Born on the 4th of February in 1938, Josiah Magama Tongogara was a commander of the ZANLA forces in Rhodesia.
Josiah Tongogara referred to as General Tongo during the Second Chimurenga, was the man who commanded the guerrilla movement, ZANLA, a military wing of the nationalist oriented Zimbabwe African National Union party. Tongogara was also part of the Dare ReChimurenga and the High Command which directed the liberation struggle against Ian Smith’s government.
He attended the Lancaster House conference that led to Zimbabwe’s independence and the end of white minority rule. At the Lancaster House Agreement on the 21st of December 1979, Tongogara was a crucial “moderating” force , according to Lord Carrington, the then British Foreign Secretary, who chaired the Lancaster talks in London .
Many expected him to be the first president of the newly born Zimbabwe, with the late Robert Gabriel Mugabe, head of Zanla’s political wing, ZANU, as prime minister.
Tongogara and his parents lived on a farm owned by the parents of Ian Smith, Rhodesia’s last prime minister. That’s where Tongogara first met Ian Smith. He was one of several rebel commanders operating from outside of Rhodesia’s borders to free the country from white colonial rule.
When President Emmerson Mnangagwa came into power in 2017 he first recognised the late freedom fighter by renaming the Army Barrack headquarters in Harare from King George VI to Josiah Magama Tongogara Barracks for the work he did during the war.
The late Cde Tongogara was married to Angelina and the couple was blessed with four children.