The legacy of the late iconic National Hero and Zanla commander General Josiah Magama Tongogara continues to live on with the nation yesterday commemorating the top Zanla military commander of the liberation war.
Relatives, friends, colleagues and senior Government officials yesterday converged at the National Heroes Acre to commemorate the 43nd anniversary of his death.
The late Gen Tongogara was born on February 4, 1938 in Shurugwi and died on Boxing Day in 1979 in a vehicle accident in Mozambique, soon after the Lancaster House Agreement that gave birth to independent Zimbabwe.
All the speakers, who included family members, colleagues and Government officials, emphasised the need for keeping Gen Tongogara’s vision alive.
He waged the war against the settler regime for liberation and the creation of a non-racial society.
Acting President Dr Constantino Chiwenga yesterday said the legacy left by Gen Tongogara is recognised through his immense role in the fight for the liberation of the country.
“To be where we are today it is because of that intelligent and brilliant commander, he foresaw things that we did not see ourselves at that time, that yes we are fighting but one day we will be free.
“He was very aware that he would not see the new Zimbabwe, that he would not see the independent Zimbabwe.
“He would always say well lets fight, the day l go is the day you are going to be free. We don’t know why, because he had a prophetic mind. It was unfortunate that he died on that fateful day,” he said.
Acting President Chiwenga also urged youths to love the country and defend it at all costs, urging them to desist from drug and alcohol abuse.
“The youths of today must know that what they are is what we were and what we are is what they shall be. This country was liberated by the youths.
“Imagine when General Tongo died, he was 41 so he was in his prime of youth and he commanded the liberation of this country.
“When he took command of Zanla he was still in his youthful days so the youths of today must emulate what the predecessors did. To be principled, to love one’s country and to defend it at all cost, leave all things which are not going to help in the reconstruction of our country.
“Today we are battling trying to stop youths from drug abuse and alcohol. All these things must be stopped. We want the youths to build Zimbabwe. That is all we want,” he said.
Earlier on in a speech read on his behalf by the Defence and War Veteran Affairs Minister Oppah Muchinguri Kashiri at Heroes Acre, Acting President Chiwenga said Gen Tongogara’s good works will always be remembered as he played a critical part in the liberation of the country.
“The Second Republic appreciates the efforts which Cde Tongogara made to liberate the country. This day is a day to celebrate independence as the late son of the soil died fighting for the cause of liberating Zimbabweans from the hands of the oppressors.
“We want to thank our Government from the time we got independence in 1980 until today. Our President Cde Mnangagwa keeps on reminding us where we came from and to follow our dignity as Zimbabweans. Let us remember our freedom fighters who liberated the country.
“We give respect to our freedom fighters through giving their names to schools, roads and other places. We also want to thank Senator Angeline Tongogara for encouraging the nation to ensure that Cde Tongogara is remembered for his wonderful works of liberating the country.
“Some were left at Chimoio, but because of his wisdom and bravery and courage, today we are celebrating independence.
“He also wanted to ensure that black people have identity and dignity so that we have pride for our nation.
“Peace and unity was his major emphasis,” she said.
The widow of General Tongogara, Sen Angelina Tongogara, described her husband as a rare breed who would easily adapt to situations.
“Everyone liked him. I was blessed to marry this man. I thank God for uniting me with this person.
“When he was at home, you would not think that he was a soldier or a commander for that matter. He would easily adapt to the family situation to become a father and husband,” said Senator Tongogara.
Gen Tongogara’s eldest son, Hondo, highlighted that there was a need to preserve his father’s legacy.
“He did not just fight for us as a family, but for every Zimbabwean. There is therefore need to preserve that legacy and it is the legacy that is going to drive Zimbabwe,” he said.
Nyaradzo Tongogara, the youngest in the family said she is grateful to all guests who helped them to celebrate the day.
“This is a very important day not to the family members but to the whole nation. His role in liberating the country is greatly appreciated,” she said.
Josiah Magama Tongogara Legacy Foundation board member Webster Shamu said Gen Tongogara wanted democracy and liberation of the country.
“He wanted peace and unity among Zimbabweans. This is moving towards our President’s vision of leaving no one behind. He was against tribalism,” he said.
Zanu PF Deputy Secretary for National Security in Politburo Cde Tendai Chirau said commemorating such heroes is very important as it helps to safeguard the legacy.
“To some of us who were born after independence, we can say that this is a big lesson. He was a man who was committed to the liberation of this country.
“It is important for our generations to consolidate the legacy and safeguard what he fought for. What is important is that when he was fighting he was young and made sure that they dismantled colonialism,” he said.