TODAY marks the 40th anniversary of the death of former ZANLA Commander, Josiah Magama Tongogara.
Six days after the Lancaster House Agreement was signed, an extremely sad message was conveyed to all the fighting people of Zimbabwe, the forty-one-year-old Tongogara was dead, killed in a car accident in Mozambique on 26 December 1979.
Born on the 4th of February in 1938, Josiah Magama Tongogara was a commander of the ZANLA army 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 in 1979, Tongogara was a crucial “moderating” force, according to Lord Carrington, the then British Foreign Secretary, who chaired the talks. Many expected him to be the first president of Zimbabwe, with the late Robert Mugabe, head of Zanla’s political wing, ZANU, as prime minister.
Tongogara and his parents lived on the farm owned by the parents of Ian Smith, Rhodesia’s last prime minister. It was where Tongogara first met Ian Smith. Tongogara was one of several rebel commanders operating from outside of Rhodesia’s borders to free the country from white rule.
He was married to Angelina and the two had four children.