Long Live Tongogara and Thomas Sankara
Obi Egbuna Jr Simunye
As Africans at home and abroad are gathered with loved ones and family celebrating either Kwanzaa, an expression aimed at embracing our indigenous cultural origins created by Maulana Karenga in 1966 and lasts from December 26th to January 1st, or Christmas which displays the undeniable footprints of settler colonialism and chattel slavery, let us end the year by remembering two fallen sons of Mother Africa that truly represent and exemplify the bravery, patriotism which best defines our collective fighting spirit and resolve, H.E. Comrade Thomas Sankara, Burkina Faso’s former President and the Commander of ZANLA’s guerilla army General Josiah Magama Tongogara.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of H.E. Sankara’s assassination, cowardly carried out by the neo-colonialist stooge and poor excuse for an African, Blaise Compaore.
Because Kwanzaa begins on the exact calendar day that Comrade Tongogara transitioned due to a fatal car crash in Mozambique (the exact date was December 26th 1979), we humbly request that Africans who partake in this festive and empowering occasion begin the libation (a ceremony where water is poured in tribute to our most fearless warriors on the battlefield as well as loved ones no longer with us in the physical world) in the diaspora and on our beloved continent of origin, begin each and every year by mentioning Comrade Tongogara as a way of showing appreciation not only for the exemplary manner he led Zimbabwe’s guerilla forces against British/Rhodesian Colonial Forces, but the countless drops of blood, sweat and sacrifice he personally gave to the liberation struggle.
General Tongogara also belonged to FRELIMO and UNIP, we must hail the Zimbabwean people, for sharing one of their greatest warriors with their extended family in the SADC region, in the spirit of Revolutionary Pan-Africanism.
This gesture will send the message that even though Zimbabwe’s former President and liberation icon Comrade Robert Gabriel Mugabe, a living legend, we boldly reject any narrative that reduces the 2nd and 3rd Chimurenga to his autobiography exclusively, we instead opt for a revolutionary approach to Zimbabwe’s legacy that shines the light on all the key National Heroes like Comrade and General Tongogara, Comrade Herbert Chitepo, Comrade Leopold Takawira, late Vice Presidents Comrade Simon Muzenda, Comrade Joshua Nkomo, Comrade Joseph Msika Mbuya Nehanda, and Amai Sally Mugabe to name a few.
While it is commonly accepted that H.E. Comrade Sankara the first African Head of State 1984 recipient of the Jose Marti Award (Cuba’s Highest Political Honour), which is perhaps the reason many refer to this powerful warrior as the Che Guevara of Africa.
After we thoroughly examine the work of Comrade Tongogara we think our comrades in Vietnam would be both humbled and pleased if, we in the spirit of Revolutionary Solidarity begin to call him the General Giap of Africa, we also think everyday Zimbabweans who hold Comrade Tongogara in the highest regard would whole heartedly embrace him being compared to one of the greatest military strategists of the 20th Century.
When we trace Comrade and General Tongogara’s steps in Mozambique and Zambia it certainly compares in quality to General Giap’s strategic brilliance that was displayed in the First Indochina War, The Vietnam War, and other historical battles in Vietnamese history like Lang Son, Hoa Binh, Dien Bien Phu, the TET Offensive, the Easter Offensive, and the final Ho Chi Minh Campaign.
Prior to their frontline revolutionary involvement, both H.E. and Comrade Sankara and Comrade Tongogara had same rather unique experiences that began an ideological departure from the colonial and slave mentality, which every African must acknowledge and confront as the first step towards full decolonisation.
In the case of H.E. and Comrade Sankara he was encouraged by both of his loving parents to become a Roman Catholic Priest, after declining to pursue that path, Comrade and H.E. Sankara entered the military academy of Kadiogo in Ouagadogou, three years later he went on to the military academy of Antisirabe in Madagascar where he also developed an appreciation for agriculture.
On the other hand, Comrade Tongogara grew up on a farm owned by none other than Rhodesia’s first Prime Minister and war criminal Ian Smith where his parents toiled for the benefit of their invaders and conquerors.
Both Comrade and H.E. Sankara and Comrade Tongogara were products of military training which instilled discipline in their lives, they were guided by the pillars of Nationalism, Pan Africanism and socialism, which paid great dividends for both of them on the battlefield fighting against colonialism and Neo-Colonialism.
The only difference is we had the privilege of watching Comrade and H.E. Sankara execute his ideas, where Comrade Tongogara, like the Pan African giants before him Amilcar Cabral and Edwardo Mondlane, were deprived the opportunity to serve the nations they risked their life to liberate in a meaningful leadership capacity.
What we know is when Comrade Tongogara was asked why Zimbabwe must be true to socialism he gave the lucid and simplistic example that if you have two pairs of pants, and your comrade has none, you simply hand over a pair of pants.
It was in this tradition that Comrade and H.E. Sankara stripped the traditional feudal lords of their wealth that stemmed from forced labour and tribute payments.
This explains why life size toy soldiers like Julius Malema, who thinks wearing a red tam on his head gives him the right to masquerade as Comrade and H.E. Sankara, however ideologically speaking he has far more in common with the Gupta brothers who treat South Africa like the board game monopoly.
For far too long, we have witnessed members of liberation movements in Mother Africa under the banner of sovereignty and national liberation, sweep the class question under the rug, and aspire to live like Fortune 500 CEOS and Execs instead of caretakers of their revolutions.
Comrade and H.E. Sankara also confiscated fleets of luxury cars from his ministers, forbade them from having Government Chauffeurs, and denied them access to first class airline tickets.
When President Mnangagwa recently announced that Ministers in his Cabinet would no longer travel first class, announced a reduction in diplomatic overseas posts and compulsory retirement for civil servants over 65 years old, Zimbabwe’s detractors opted to spew conspiracies about capitulation and neo-liberalism, instead of highlight these crucial developments.
President Mnangagwa asked ZANU-PF rank and file members not to sing songs about him, but revolutionary songs from the liberation struggle and Zimbabwe’s national anthem, this is identical to Comrade and H.E. Sankara when asked why his pictures weren’t plastered all over Burkina Faso he simply replied “There are seven million Thomas Sankaras.”
President Mnangagwa’s Command Agriculture programme is committed to restoring faith in an area that is considered the cornerstone of the 3rd Chimurenga, it has similarities to the campaign that Comrade and H.E. Sankara carried out that sent 200 000 Burkinabes to plant trees preventing animals from destroying vegetation.
Comrade and H.E. Sankara also popularised Burkinabe Tunics woven from indigenous cotton and required Ministers wear them as part of the Cultural Revolution, which is exactly what late National Hero and Former First Lady Amai Sally Mugabe attempted to do in Zimbabwe, what we know is in the SADC regions our sisters and brothers love their Giorgio Armani, Hugo Boss and Pierre Cardin suits. This doesn’t mean we can’t strive for miracles.
When Comrade and H.E. Sankara said women hold up the other half of the sky, he to be thinking of sisters like Comrade Angeline Tongogara who besides raising four children after the untimely death of Comrade Tongogara, has refused to give any credence and validity to conspiracy theories that Comrade Tongogara was assassinated by former Presdent and liberation icon Comrade Gabriel Mugabe.
Her brilliant and lucid explanation of the relation between her late husband and former President Mugabe during her interview with the Sunday Mail Cooking For RGM lays all gossip and innuendo to rest.
Our Revolutionary Sister also chronicled how Comrade Tongogara maintained his resolve when he was excused of masterminding the assassination of National Hero and Revolutionary Father Figure Herbert Chitepo. We are also grateful to former Zimbabwean ambassador to the US Dr. Simbi Mubako for clearing Comrade Tongogara’s name and erasing this blemish on his impeccable reputation.
Because US-EU Imperialism thrives on spreading conspiracy theories about political assassinations all we the children of Africa have to say is if they are willing to have a full disclosure campaign on the world stage, on this delicate subject matter, we are ready whenever the are. May the memories of Comrades Thomas Sankara and Josiah Magama Tongogara live on.
- Obi Egbuna Jr is the US Correspondent to The Herald and the External Relations Officer to ZICUFA (Zimbabwe Cuba Friendship Association) his email is [email protected]