Tongogara committed his life – being prepared to lay it down – in his fearless fight against oppression, subjugation, and sub-standard standards of livelihoods for the majority of the people of this country under the minority Rhodesia regime.
Throughout his participation in the liberation struggle, he never substituted his love to attain justice for all in this country, for the comfort of survival, or to earn a living for his family, or to score cheap selfish political points.
His life became the struggle, and the struggle became his life.
He never chose the easier route, but he chose the most arduous and dangerous one, as positive results seldom manifest on the straight and wide road.
Nonetheless, the independent Zimbabwe – where the majority enjoyed freedom and prosperity – swiftly turned back into that dark place of oppression, subjugation, and economic deprivation of the majority.
For the past 38 years – under the very political party that Tongogara, at one time, sincerely believed was devoted to the total emancipation of the people of Zimbabwe – the majority have endured immeasurably pain and suffering – only comparable to the Rhodesia days themselves.
Even that comparison is debatable, as those who have lived in the Rhodesia era argue that life was actually better – as there were plentiful of jobs (in spite of the limited educational opportunities), workers were paid everytime (meagre wages, which, however, could buy the most basic essentials, and a few extra luxuries), most workers were provided with accommodation by their employers, terminal benefits provided a relatively comfortable retirement, and hospitals were well-stocked with all the essential medication, whilst most necessary medical procedures could be done within the country.
However, in independent Zimbabwe, the very opposite of the above is true!
If that is the case, why are the people of Zimbabwe not being united in fearlessly standing up against their oppressors?
Where are the modern day Tongogaras?
As I write this article, the people of Sudan have entered their eighth day of demonstrations in the capital Khartoum, against their appalling standards of living and oppressive government.
In spite of 40 of their fellow demonstrators being killed by security forces using live ammunition, these gallant men and women have never faltered – as they have stood firmly and unshivering in their demand for freedom and prosperity.
In fact, according to one news bulletin, the demonstrators’ resolve has only intensified with each person killed by the regime – and the protests are getting bigger and stronger.
Can we, the people of Zimbabwe, learn anything from this?
Are we not to learn that our constitutional right to peacefully demonstrate and petition – as enshrined in section 59 – is one of the most sacrosanct rights, which we should never take for granted?
As most of us are currently wallowing in the worst economic meltdown in the past decade – with the prices of basic commodities, medications, and school fees and uniforms tripling within the past month, as well as shortages of fuel – one would have thought that our first port of call would be section 59 of the Constitution.
However, our silence – save for a few quiet rumblings in corners and commuter omnibuses – begs to deceive – as it paints an illusion of normalcy and acceptance.
How can we accept and be alright with such a warped scenario?
Can anyone be alright with suffering?
Of course, some will be quick to point to the events of 1 August 2018 – whereby, at least six people were shot dead on the streets of the capital Harare, during a violent supposedly election-result protest – that the Monthlante Commission of Inquiry pointed at the security forces.
It is understandable that, just as no normal person would be alright with suffering, similarly, no normal person would be alright with being killed – thus, the reluctance for any meaningful constitutional action against the regime.
However, does a struggle require a ‘normal’ person?
Was Tongagara ‘normal’?
The genuine struggle for one’s own livelihood – and that of our children and grandchildren – can never be achieved by being ‘normal’.
It is similar to a mother whose child is trapped in a burning house – would a ‘normal’ mother rush into a building she is most likely to also die in?
This requires an attitude that transcends ‘normalcy’.
It is a decision that one has to deliberately make – that “whether I die or not, I have to do this for the sake of my children, or for my nation”.
As the saying goes, “courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to master fear”.
The people of Sudan have so far lost 40 of their fellow demonstrators, but that has not dampened their spirits – in fact, they are even more determined than ever.
As the people of Zimbabwe, we need to take charge of our own destiny.
We can not just sit back and expect politicians to be so kind and nice as to do it for us.
Tongogara did not wait for “dear old Smithy” to be considerate enough to give the majority their freedom.
This struggle is for us – the people of Zimbabwe – and no one else can do it for us.
Even between 2006 and 2009, we just watched as our lives were shattered by this same regime – with our currency losing all its value and we had to buy a loaf of bread for billions of dollars.
Yet, we did nothing!
The same situation is stealthily creeping upon us, yet we still do nothing!
We need to have one common purpose – that is, to demand that our lives
be bestowed the value which they are worth.
This is not political – as this need not be the toppling of the government – but, merely the unequivocal demanding for our lives to improve.
In fact, we should never allow political parties to infiltrate our struggle, as these organisations have their own selfish objectives, which are at odds with our own.
Political parties are after political power, and they use us to fulfil that objective.
We ourselves know what we want, and should be able to stand firmly and fearlessly in demanding our lives back.
As long as we allow ourselves to be divided by political parties, and other organisations that have their own agendas, we will forever be weak.
Let us be united under one banner of ZIMBABWE – and no other interests should be allowed.
No gun and no killings should be able to deter us.
Just as General Josiah Magama Tongogara, and the people of Sudan, if ever the oppressive regime decides to intimidate us with any killings, this should not make us flee into all directions, but to stand firm and even have more joining in.
Unless, and until we ourselves demand our rights without any fear – we can kiss any hope of a better life goodbye – in fact, KUSIKUFA NDEKUPI!
° Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and speaker. Please feel free to call/WhatsApp: +263715667700, or calls ONLY: +263782283975.