Archive for September, 2008

Writing on Mozambique, pt. 5: Liberation and Revolution

We discussed in the last couple of pieces how the borders between Mozambique and its neighbours were, sometimes, porous enough for entire communities to cross over. The river Rovuma comprises most of the northern border of Mozambique with what is now Tanzania, and was then Tanganyika, which became a constitutional monarchy in 1961, and fully independent from the British in 1962. Many Mozambican migrants were present in Tanganyika, working on sisal plantations [HW 150]. President Julius Nyerere was committed to African socialism and pan-Africanism, and Tanganyika and later Tanzania thus acted as hosts to the resistance movements of other territories.

There were those rare Mozambicans who were able to go abroad to study (since it was virtually impossible in Mozambique or Portugal for Africans to do so). One of these was Eduardo Mondlane, the son of a Gaza chief from the south, who studied at Witwatersrand (Johannesburg), Lisbon (Portugal), Oberlin (Ohio) and Northwestern (Illinois) [WC 71]. Many gathered in Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania to form nationalist organizations dedicated to freeing Mozambique from Portuguese rule. (I want to discuss, perhaps in another paper, the development of Mozambican nationalism in theoretical context.)

Nationalism and Leadership

Mozambican migrants in Tanganyika formed dance clubs and funeral associations [HW 150], which eventually led to the formation of MANU, or Mozambique African National Union, in 1961 — which seems to have been modeled after the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU). MANU members mobilized by selling membership cards to Mozambicans, mostly of the Makonde in the Mueda plateau (which was right across the river from Tanganyika). Resentment against the Portuguese was high among the Makonde of Mueda, and was exacerbated by a massacre of demonstrators that took place in 1960.

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