Tongogara is Cecil Rhodes’ antithesis


JOSIAH Magama Tongogara, ZANLA’s Chief of Defence, died in a tragic car accident in Mozambique, on December 26 1979, on his way to the camps to inform his commanders of what had transpired at Lancaster House. 

It was his wish to brief his commanders personally, so that, in his own words, “. . . vasazofunga kuti takavatengesa”. 

He was so close to all of us, a commander we all so dearly loved, thus, it would have been the greatest joy and honour for him to brief the commanders personally; the comrades with whom he had relentlessly and fiercely confronted the enemy, the comrades with whom he had fought and won the victory which forced the enemy to the table to negotiate his terms of surrender. 

This great love was not lost on the fighters.  

The fighters were not just a means to an end, but were his special friends, compatriots he deeply cared for, compatriots with whom he was ready to die in the great mission to liberate Zimbabwe. 

Thus he was still treading with love and dedication for his fighters when he met his end. 

This was only five days after the ceasefire had been signed at Lancaster on December 21 1979. He was due back in Maputo to leave for Zimbabwe with other senior commanders to implement the ceasefire, prepare for the elections, for everything so critical, everything so important in the march to independence. He had been advised by his seniors in the Party against such a trip at such a critical moment, but he insisted that it was his duty as Chief of Defence to brief the senior commanders in person. 

It was a journey of love. 

He had to do what was correct no matter the cost, that is who he was.

So, it is indeed a great moment for us, a proud moment, to put everything aside and remember him, commemorate him, spell the legacy of the man who commanded ZANLA to victory against the British armed robbers with such selfless dedication. He went to join others in the Zimbabwe Hall of Fame without defaulting an iota.

The great military supremo, Cde Josiah Magama Tongogara, ZANLA’s Chief of Defence.

And ZBC-TV did us proud on December 26 2023! We were treated to the story of Tongo in which his wife, Mai Hondo, led an in-depth discussion of who the man, Josiah Magama Tongogara, was.

But then there had to be a fly in the ointment!  On the same day, on ZBC-TV, during the 8pm evening news broadcast — the Minister of Tourism and Hospitality, Barbara Rwodzi, showcased Rhodes’ grave at Matobo Hills as a prime tourist attraction.

This was an affront! 

Rhodes is the architect of British imperialism in our land, who, under commission from the British crown, organised an armed insurrection into Zimbabwe to effect the armed robbery of this land by the British.

Rhodes’ grave at Matopos is an insult to Zimbabweans and to Musikavanhu.

This is the same Cecil John Rhodes who destroyed King Lobengula’ s kingdom in order to loot the gold the British coveted in Matabeleland, in order to loot the Ndebele cattle — a quarter million of them — the largest herd south of the Zambezi. The looting of cattle, gold and land was not confined to Matabeleland; Mashonaland was equally under siege, the imperialist orgy spread throughout the land. This sparked a very brutal war in which our people fought to end the imperialist robbery of the land. Upwards of 10 000 of our people perished in this war, the First Chimurenga.  

Rhodes and the Catholics, in desperation to put out the raging unquenchable flames of Chimurenga, resorted to genocide, killing thousands by blasting them to death with dynamite as they hid in caves; starving to death thousands more through the scorched earth policy which was characterised by slashing and burning the crops in the fields and looting tonnes of grain and livestock — even chickens! Starvation was weaponised; whole villages were burnt down with the inhabitants reduced to roving bands of starving homeless destitutes.

This is the Cecil John Rhodes whose grave the Minister would showcase as an important historical site to visit; this was with the backing of ‘Zimbho’ adverts. The Minister went on to say that our children should know our history. Our history yes, but with villains as heroes! 

Rhodes is not our hero: he is the hero of British imperialism, a villain to Zimbabweans, their arch-enemy, a notorious enemy who has cost Zimbabweans more than anyone we know of. 

“Kill them all,” Rhodes is recorded by his biographers as shouting during the First Chimurenga. Neither the Shona nor the Ndebele could be defeated so the solution was to ‘kill them all’ so that the untold wealth of Zimbabwe could be expropriated by the British uncontested. They thought that with the Maxim gun which could fire 600 rounds a minute, this was a done deal.

So the grave of this Cecil John Rhodes becomes a celebrated tourist attraction in what way? To celebrate the life of a Briton who plunged our country into a most horrific war in which thousands suffered and died very cruelly, while many were maimed, were left incapacitated so severely in so many ways, so much pain and suffering because of British lust and greed for the land of Zimbabwe and all it is endowed with! 

Rhodes was the  architect of all this. How does he become a celebrity in the history of this great gracious land?

The same Rhodes expropriated the whole of what we now call the Rhodes Nyanga National Park, the whole of the Rhodes Matopos National Park, all this was Cecil John Rhodes’ personal private property; hundreds of square kilometres from which he with brute force drove away and sentenced thousands into oblivion in arid, tsetse fly-infested areas.

So, how does the grave of this aberration become a special place to visit, how does it become a prime tourist attraction and an important piece of history for our children, the grave of such an infamous individual in our land, the one responsible for the murder of thousands of our great-grandparents? 

We have the Great Zimbabwe, the magnificent ancient city of our ancestors, an architectural wonder, one of the most spectacular in sub-Saharan Africa. Why would the Minister showcase Rhodes’ grave, of all sites in Zimbabwe! And this, on the day we celebrated something truly special in our history, Cde Josiah Magama Tongogara. 

Minister Rwodzi was at the Rhodes grave, canvassing for it, demonstrating and encouraging that this is the place Zimbabweans should visit to honour the architect of the greatest travesty in our land?

Rhodes succeeded in his mission to effect the armed robbery of the land of Zimbabwe, and in instituting a system of  plundering and looting of minerals, exploitation of labour, grabbing of the best land all which inevitably led us to another bitter war, which lasted 16 years — the Second Chimurenga.

We had to wage a bitter and protracted armed struggle which took us 16 years to drive out the British armed robbers. Thousands of Zimbabweans perished in this war, thousands were massacred at Nyadzonia, Chimoio, Mkushi, Freedom Camp, Kamungoma and many other places in and outside Zimbabwe as a result of Rhodes’ imperialist ‘Project Rhodesia’ . 

Hundreds of thousands have physical and psychological scars as a result of the trauma which scorched them in this war. Let it not be forgotten that, for 90 years, our people lived as slaves in the land of their birth and this was the work of Rhodes on behalf of the British — this was ‘Project Rhodesia’.

So what is there to honour? 

What is there to attract the sons and daughters of Zimbabwe to the grave of the author of ‘Project Rhodesia’?  

We have memories of sobbing shadows in the land; sobbing shadows that will not rest; shadows that cannot be at peace in the land and there cannot be true peace as long as the scourge of the white menace is not dethroned. There are those who hold high the flag of the white menace . . . do stop and think; there are memories of sobbing shadows in the land which cannot rest, memories that shall not be still. 

Rhodes’ grave at Matobo Hills is an affront, it is an insult to us of Zimbabwe and to Musikavanhu. Njelele is His Great Seat from whence He spoke to His people. Rhodes, on his own behalf and that of the British, came to Zimbabwe to appropriate for himself and the British the land of Zimbabwe which Musikavanhu gave to the people of Zimbabwe exclusively. His coming was an insult to Mwari, an abrogation of his ruling that the land of the plateau between the Zambezi and the Limpopo belongs to the people of Zimbabwe and no-one else. Rhodes’ grave at Matobo Hills is also the worst insult to Mwari because Rhodes was a homosexual and to Mwari and His people, homosexuality is an abomination. His wish to be be buried at Matobo Hills was to desecrate the holy place so that the force of the land would be neutralised. But it does not work like that; we still defeated Rhodes and Project Rhodesia, that despite!

So how does this abomination to Mwari and His people become a prime tourist attraction! 

The seat of Mwari cannot be the place for the imperialist, homosexual Rhodes to rest in peace.  It can never be! So there is no need to cost our children to worship at the feet of imperialism and its immorality, they have a Great Zimbabwe to build for us.

Matobo Hills are sacred! 

This is a spiritual shrine where an abomination should never have been buried. 

Rhodes was buried there in the belief that the spirit force of this land would be weakened or neutralised, which, of course, is not possible!

The Minister of Tourism and Hospitality erred. 

To showcase Cecil John’s grave, to advertise it as a prime tourist attraction and a source of history for our children is to strike where it hurts most. 

It is to insult Zimbabwe and its people. 

Tongogara is the antithesis of Cecil John Rhodes, the one who stood on the serpent’s head and crushed it.

Comrade Tongo’s home in Shurugwi is a fitting place for tourists to see where the great liberation military supremo originated, and not Rhodes’ grave, not where the abomination is buried.

Aluta Continua!


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