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Imagine Josiah Tongogara was alive

Published: December 3, 2009

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Analysis(ZimEye)Imagine Josiah Tongogara was alive, trampling the streets of Harare – the man who wanted to see Ndebele and Shona people  living in harmony. Imagine if Ziyapapa Moyo and Herbert Chitepo had not met their untimely deaths?

“I do not like heroes; they make too much noise in the world” acknowledges one street vendor. Almost three years after the Anglo-Ndebele war of 1893, the Zimbabwean people rose again to fight the white settlers in 1896. The causes for the Shona and Ndebele war of liberation were many and varied but language was one of them, especially on the Ndebele who objected the deployment of Shona-speaking police deployment in Matebeleland. Understandable the language issue was a crucial cause on the part of the Ndebele but unfortunately the white-settlers did not understand it or chose to play it down. The people of Matebeleland’s objection of Shona-speaking police was based on a founded principle as pointed by Weedon who sums “Language is the place whose actual and possible forms of social organisation and their likely social and political consequences are defined and contested.” Thus, the Ndebele people understood that language is the vehicle for socialisation and that through it the individual becomes self-aware and learn the culture of his/her society.

For the next 90 years of colonial rule language was used to divide the people of Zimbabwe. Colonial education did not try to bring social cohesion by teaching Ndebele and Shona at national rather than regional level. Albeit to say, socialisation between the major two tribes in Zimbabwe was only limited to quite rudimental level, leaving English language to play the unifying factor. It is sad for me to always turn to English language whenever I want to speak to my kith-and-kin from Matebeleland. Ironically, I am not a product of the settler regime but of the Mugabe and ZANU PF regime. This meant that the opportunity to bring effective change in Zimbabwe was there through education. If only the regime in Harare had demonstrated leadership on this pivotal issue a new Zimbabwe could have been created with a united populace as opposed to the current situation where everything has to be seen within Shona and Ndebele perspective. This is why I took great exception with President Mugabe and his ZANU PF lieutenants. Thirty years after independence the Government has done nothing to bring main tribes namely: Shona and Ndebele together. In fact these two indigenous languages are still  being taught on tribal basis and no-one in ZANU PF has realised how divided the people of Zimbabwe are and how language has the potential to bring us together as Zimbabweans instead of Ndebele or Shona. It is quite disheartening to note that whenever I want to communicate with someone from Matebeleland I have to resort to English, although the majority of Ndebele-speaking people can speak Shona the same could not be said of the Shona. The consequence of a divided people is suspicion and mistrust with deadly consequences. Imagine that “hour of madness” as put across by Mugabe when referring to the Gukurahundi massacres. Language here was used as a tool to wipe out innocent families by Mugabe’s Korean trained army. Those Zimbabweans who were unfortunate to live in Matebeleland and could not speak Shona found themselves on the receiving end. The analogy was that Ndebele-speaking people were plotting to oust ZANU PF from power-hence the government responded by massacring thousand of innocent people.

Regrettably, even after the Unity Accord of 1987, the regime in Harare has not tried to bring the people of Zimbabwe together as one family through teaching of Shona and Ndebele at national level as opposed to the status quo. Do we need another massacre in Mashonaland for these people to learn to speak Ndebele? Or are we content to continue divided as we have been since the coming of the whites or even beyond? If our education is polarizing the Zimbabwean society, is it serving its purpose?

ZANU PF and Robert Mugabe’s failures are many and varied but the lack to adopt a national curriculum for Shona and Ndebele majors as their greatest. The atrocities of the Ndebele people during the early 80s is inexcusable but the failure to use education as a unifying force is tantamount to irresponsibility, lack of political maturity and negation of the Government of Zimbabwe’s duties towards its people.

History will judge Mugabe and ZANU PF on their contributions to Zimbabwe but their failure to unite people of Zimbabwe through education will rank above the rest because this fundamental issue has the potential to continue dividing Zimbabweans into Shona and Ndebele for generations to come. Imagine the type of Zimbabwe we would be living in, if in 1980 the Patriotic Front had fought the elections under one ticket? Imagine if Josiah Magamba Tongogara had not met his unexplained death on his way home from Mozambique to prepare for the birth of Zimbabwe under the Patriotic Front?

Imagine if Ziyapapa Moyo and Chitepo had not met their untimely death? A new Zimbabwe could have been born in 1980 with a vision of a new social order and a united, free, democratic Zimbabwe would have emerged, avoiding this disastrous route ZANU PF and Mugabe have taken us through. Thus, to avoid another Gukurahundi, in the near future the debate on the teaching of Shona and Ndebele should be adopted as of yesterday. As an ordinary citizen of My Beloved Zimbabwe my only wish is equipped by the following, “All I ask is heaven above and the reed before me.” (ZimEye, Zimbabwe)


WPSN comments

10 Comments on "Imagine Josiah Tongogara was alive"

  1. George Dangarembwa on Fri, 4th Dec 2009 1:51 am 

    So Tongogara was actually next in line in power ,right?

    He shoul have killed Mugabe before the nake struck!

  2. Thabani Mukombe on Fri, 4th Dec 2009 3:07 pm 

    ….Bere..Words fail me. Its so unfortunate that we have let ourselves be consumed in such minor tribal differences. I totally agree with you. Whatever Mugabe did…was just a dictatorial way of wanting to rule on his own. Too late we realize it now after having killed each other. Samu are you reading this? Bravo Bere

  3. samukeliso on Sat, 5th Dec 2009 12:49 am 

    Yes my friend i am reading this, it sunk very well i have nothing to despute, well thought Mr Bere thumbs up sir!!!, Having said that yes the nation has been torn apart, so much hate exist so much between these two tribes, corruption, nepotsm and so on and so on to mention but just a few obvious. The country is down on its knees, public services are suffering no delivering as reported in prevous articles, the povo is suffering. I have heard others talking about Gugurahundi being good as the ndebeles are not good enough to be Zimbabweans and Ndebeles being dissidents.
    My dear ladies and gentleman sons and daughters of the soil peace, peace, peace un to you. Recently we have been watching people being metulated in different provences in Mashonaland some have been reported missing, some have been burnt alive for not supporting zanu pf, i have witnessed these scenarios, you have witnessed those scenarios too you have your loved ones who went missing.
    Should i therefore stand on top of the mountain and shout very loudly and say kill them because they killed us inthe 1980s, Should i cat-whistle and say yes this is ok they used to call us dissidents.
    No this is not within me, tears come down eyes, i feel the the pain yu feel too, no this is against my conscious, we admit there has been some failings in our country, top to bottom, bottom to top of the leadership which we have witnessed. What is therefore the way forward, is it not possible for us people loving citizens of zimbabwe to bury the hachet and start on a new note, let us rebuild the country, lets embrace one another, let us bring the country together.
    Yes grow up Zimbabwe, grow up son and daughter of the soil i know you can do it, yes you can do it.

  4. Bruce Derere on Sat, 5th Dec 2009 2:23 am 

    I personally do not think your facts on Tongogara are correct. Yuu have added salt and pepper somewhere. How could Tongogara agree to work with Nkomo when there was a large idealogical chasm betwixt them? You forget that Nkomo was trained by the Russians and Tongogara by the Mao Mao- Chinese?

    Interesting topic BUT you seem to be just writing for the sake of pleasing the Ndebeles Bere.

    Please tell us the truth, not to just scribble your pen so that you increase your readership across the tribes. Be objective.

  5. Thabani Mukombe on Sat, 5th Dec 2009 11:08 am 

    @ Mr Derere…you say his facts are not correct. Tell us where he went wrong? Am particularly interested in you pointing where he wrote to please Ndebeles…the paragraph and the meaning because am not getting it. Anyway from me, Bere, its a good peace

  6. Dzombi on Sat, 5th Dec 2009 11:12 am 

    Vana Derere…chenyu kuvhura miromo yenyu inonhuwa kunge yakafira makonzo. You dont even know how to differentiate between what is right and wrong. Vana Thabani you have finally seen the truth. Thabani ndeimwewo ***** iyi ango ndishamisa nhasi chete

  7. samukeliso on Sat, 5th Dec 2009 12:30 pm 

    Inthe past this same Bruce Derere who writes here was asked to comment onthe Lancaster House agrreement and you were kindly asked to pick/uplift/quote at least one paragraph to support your statement. We were talking about the land issue at one moment on this very same forum as we are today you said ‘ let us not rush but lets here what the Lancaster House agreement say’(close to this) I personal asked you to qoute us a paragraph to support your statement, you said ‘ you can not comment onthe document you have not seen/read, until The Serpent came to your rescue and you said you will read the document and come back to us.
    We are still waiting for your comment on that,
    Look here Bruce what is it that you know about the Zimbabwean politics,
    Can you really read a document and come out with something out of it, can you summaries an essay Bruce or are you of those who when reading a document pick up the potion you want and leave the rest that do not suit you.
    Give us tha paragraph then where Mr Bere talks about pleasing the ndebeles.

    I am ashmed of you Bruce you still can not differiant between a herd of cattle and a flock of sheep or birds and still call them a flock of cattle what on earth is this.

  8. Walter Chifamba on Sat, 5th Dec 2009 8:02 pm 

    Nice one Samukeliso. I have enjoyed reading your arguments. You are the type of people who must be leading the country, not thick-heads like Derere and Mutambara.

    Until today, I believed the words uttered by COltart in saying that a Ndebele person can never lead ZImbabwe. AS of today, I see now that he was just as wrong as his boss Mutambara. thumbs up to Samukeliso, You an Jestina Mukoko must rule Zimbabwe one day.

  9. vic hama on Wed, 9th Dec 2009 3:13 pm 

    Wishing Tongogara was still alive is just like wishing Obama was a real black man. Are you Sick in the Head?

  10. Nkamba on Thu, 10th Dec 2009 9:45 am 

    Vic I think you are sick yourself. Do something before you go extremely nuts

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