Research and study of ideologies of social and national emancipation and their application to conditions within imperialist society

Speech to the meeting commemorating Comrade Tongogara. London. 23 September 2023.
[The following text is an initial transcription from notes, subject to amendment.]


Thank you to everyone who arranged this meeting.

I wanted to share my own memories of Comrade Tongogara.

I did not always see a lot of him, but we had many friends and comrades in common, and he was someone you just always knew was there, because he was a fighter, a people’s soldier, and he was in support of every fight against racism, capitalism, and imperialism, every struggle against injustice, oppression and exploitation.

It was sometime in the summer of 1976, around the time I turned 18, that I met him; I am not sure when I met him for the first time, but the first time I remember was when Danny – as he then was – was a member of one of the Marxist-Leninist organisations that had taken up the struggle against revisionism in the international communist movement. [He had also been a foudnign member of the Black Unity and Freedom Party, according to Hakim.]

This organisation was the Communist Workers League of Britain (Marxist-Leninist). It had developed out of the Irish National Liberation Solidarity Front, itself a testimony to Comrade Tongogara’s internationalist stand with all people fighting for their liberation. The organisation’s paper was called Voice of the People. It was well produced – the best produced on the Marxist-Leninist scene in print quality and design. Previously, it had been called Irish liberation Press.

I had been impressed with some of the organisation’s work. I used to sell papers with them at weekends – basically in Irish pubs in North London, where we always got a good reception.

Like many other groups at that time, we turned towards industry in our political work, and Danny was working in an engineering factory in North London. The CWLB launched two factory papers, and I went with him to give out papers. I was on the early shift at 6 am and stayed the night in his bedsit.

I don’t know if that was our first meeting, but that’s when we really got to know each other.

What I remember most were the things on his wall:

     pictures of his mother and other family members;

     posters from the Youth Forces for National Liberation (YFNL), the very lively and militant organisation in Jamaica at that time;

     posters that depicted the amazing spirit of struggle of the Jamaican people and the unspeakable cruelty and brutality of British imperialism, for example, the Morant Bay rebellion of October 1865.

Since then, we knew each other, worked together, sometimes had differences of opinion – although never fundamental ones – through a variety of organisations and campaigns for nearly 47 years. In that time, so many comrades became disillusioned, and disappeared, dropped out or retreated into private life, but Tongogara stayed the course. He made his life choice, embarked on the road he had chosen, and he never looked back.

What was especially important to me, as a co-editor of Friends of Socialist China, was that he was a consistent and staunch supporter of the Chinese revolution, and of the life and work of its foremost leader, Mao Zedong. He knew that it was the Chinese revolution in particular that elevated communism to the ideal of aspiration of all oppressed humanity, the global majority.

Tongogara knew that there could be no emancipation of the working class without the defeat of imperialism, without African liberation, without black liberation. Mao Zedong spoke for him when he said that the evil system of colonialism and imperialism rose and throve with the enslavement of black people and the trade in black people, and it will surely come to its end with their complete liberation.

This, to me, is what Tongogara dedicated his life to, with devotion, humility, energy, passion, kindness, and love – for his family, his friends, his comrades, and for the working and depressed people of the whole world.

Writings of Keith Bennett


Writings of Keith Bennett