KGVI ghostbusted, Tongo honoured

Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces President Emmerson Mnangagwa, accompanied by national hero General Josiah Magama Tongogara’s widow Mrs Angeline Kumbirai Tongogara, unveils a plaque during the official renaming of KGVI Barracks to Josiah Magama Tongogara Barracks in Harare yesterday. — (Picture by John Manzongo)

Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces President Emmerson Mnangagwa, accompanied by national hero General Josiah Magama Tongogara’s widow Mrs Angeline Kumbirai Tongogara, unveils a plaque during the official renaming of KGVI Barracks to Josiah Magama Tongogara Barracks in Harare yesterday. — (Picture by John Manzongo)

Felex Share and Tendai Rupapa—
KING George VI Barracks, which houses the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) and Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ) headquarters, was yesterday officially renamed Josiah Magama Tongogara Barracks at a colourful ceremony presided over by Commander-in-Chief President Emmerson Mnangagwa.The ceremony was the first of a series of events the Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces will preside over. The President is expected to preside over unveiling ceremonies for the National Defence University (renamed to Alfred Nikita Mangena), Headquarters 3 Infantry Brigade (renamed Herbert Chitepo) and Flyde Air Force Base (Jason Ziyaphapha Moyo).

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All army barracks have been renamed after national heroes as Government moves to address the colonial nomenclature of key military cantonments by venerating Zimbabwe’s former freedom fighters. KGV1 Barracks —built around 1972— were named after Albert Fredricks George, former King of the United Kingdom and dominions of the Commonwealth.

He was the Commander-in-Chief when the Rhodesian Army was established. President Mnangagwa first inspected a guard of honour before unveiling the plaque and delivering his keynote address. The event was also complete with a 21-gun salute to honour General Tongogara, a military strategist who was the ZANLA chief of defence.

Gen Tongogara died in a car accident on December 26, 1979 just a few months before the country gained independence after vanquishing the Settler regime of Ian Douglas Smith. Speakers spoke highly of Gen Tongogara, who was also a member of the Dare reChimurenga and ZANLA High Command.

They narrated how Gen Tongo had provided unparalleled leadership to the armed struggle for the emancipation of the people. The Tongogara family, led by his widow Angeline and several children, was present to witness the momentous occasion. Mrs Tongogara said her husband had led from the front during the liberation struggle although he did not live to see the fruits of his sacrifice.

“This makes this honour deeply meaningful to the family and the nation. Words are not enough to tell you how grateful we are for this recognition that will continue to recognise and teach the values of the liberation struggle through this honour bestowed on its commander. As Zimbabweans, we hold our heads high with pride in our nation and its Government and in our Defence Forces who guard this legacy,” she said.

Defence, Security and War Veterans Minister Cde Kembo Mohadi said the renaming exercise was long overdue.

“This is an occasion that breaks the shackles that have been tying us to the colonial past. He was my Commander and I knew this gentleman and his family long back before some of you knew him. We were together in Zambia when I joined the struggle in 1971. We worked together. As someone who was in the intelligence side of ZAPU, he used to come to Zimbabwe House and give me some tasks to do. I am saying this today and have never told this to anyone. He did not know that there was ZAPU and there was ZANU, he was above party politics. This is the man we are giving these Barracks today. I am not going to tell you the missions that he used to send me to do,” he said.

He added: “This is one of the most important days of my life and standing before you as a Minister of Defence, Security and War Veterans, I feel I am home because I am part of this family. I have long been in the wilderness and today I feel I am home with my own.”

A member of the ZIPRA High Command Cde Ambrose Mutunhiri said: “I am actually excited. At least this is something that has been missing in recognition of some of our great military leaders. The history of Zimbabwe without mentioning some of the people who have been mentioned here, General Tongo included, is incomplete. I am grateful.” The ceremony was attended by Cabinet Ministers, traditional leaders, service chiefs, freedom fighters and members of the Tongogara Foundation.

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  • Tinowaziwa

    Ya-ah, remember there are many unsung heroes like Dzino, Serbia, Thodhlana David, etc and please resist the silly temptation to distort the history of our liberation struggle.

  • Madara

    what a waste of time and money. why cant i withdraw my usd yet? why cant i use my mastercard online and outside the country?

  • eliah

    We also need Chimoio and Nyadzonya Barracks etc terms which are more embracing and some of us with brothers and sisters lying at those sites will feel honoured.

  • Berto

    Why not change KGVI to KaGuVI, you only need 2 letters a and u

  • Progressive Zimbabwean

    Good to see these changes. They were long overdue. However, what must be remembered are the core values that underpinned the liberation struggle. The total emancipation of the people of Zimbabwe. Rebuilding a Zimbabwe envisioned by those that took up arms to liberate everyone so that we could peacefully co-exist will be a befitting honour to those that departed and lie in both marked and unmarked graves throughout the country. We need a radical shift in our work ethic and encourage each other to earn every dollar. My worry is that there is negative sycophancy prevalent in government and that encourages patronage. That unpleasant practice must be stopped and the person who ought to bring about change on that front, is none other than the President himself. He must leave a legacy of hard work and honesty. He must help steer the ship towards a progressive culture of freedom of expression underpinned by socio economic development. We need to leave a happy habitable Zimbabwe for posterity.

  • kazukuru

    This is a moving moment which leaves some of us very emotional. Those who know Cde Tongo say he was such a nice guy despite him being a ferocious liberation war hero. Sadly he never made it. It would have been nice if he is wth us now

    • general

      wangu Tongo thank you for the sacrifice ..cde HE ED THANK YOU for the recognition …we will forever cherish.ICHOOOOO….PASI NECORRUPTION LAND TO EVERYONE