Our liberation past binds us together

SANF 22 no 16 – by Raymond Ndhlovu

The people of southern Africa and the African continent join the people of Mozambique in commemorating the life of the founding leader of the Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo), Eduardo Chivambo Mondlane who is respected as the father of Mozambique’s independence.

This year marks the 53rd anniversary of his death, after he opened a parcel bomb sent to him in Dar es Salaam by the colonial Portuguese authorities in 1969 on 3 February, now Heroes Day in Mozambique.

The day was set to honour his life as well as the men and women who fought for the country’s independence, for which many gave their lives, and those who have contributed to the development of post-independence Mozambique.

This year, the commemoration ceremony was held in Mueda town, in Cabo Delgado province at the place where, on 16 June 1960, colonial forces massacred Mozambican protesters who were demanding political independence. With this history, Mueda town has the Heroes Acre and the headquarters of the Northern Operational Command which is fighting against terrorist groups in the Cabo Delgado province.

Speaking at the event, President Filipe Nyusi said, “This year we mark this occasion during a challenging struggle against terrorism.”

“Our finest sons are battling … alongside the sons of SADC and Rwanda, who are giving their lives to ensure the integrity of our nation and bring peace,” he added.

The South African President Cyril Ramaphosa who is the Chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation who attended the same event noted the importance of the event saying it helps, “to preserve the collective memory of our shared past and reaffirm our commitment to a common future.”

He commended the place of the shared liberation history in promoting the values of unity and solidarity across the region saying, “The solidarity and comradeship between our liberation movements continues to inspire us to work harder for our people in pursuit of our shared vision for the SADC region and the African continent.”

“We must draw inspiration from the life of Dr Mondlane to confront the challenges of underdevelopment, lack of diversity in our economies, slow industrialisation, widespread poverty, youth unemployment, insecurity, climate change and the current COVID-19 pandemic,” he added.

Born in June 1920 in Nwadjahane, a village in the Gaza Province of southern Mozambique, Eduardo Mondlane played a leading role in the struggle against Portuguese colonial rule.

The well-educated Mozambican nationalist is celebrated for his selfless dedication in the fight against settler rule. He believed that the education of young people is an important tool in the fight for both political and economic independence.

Speaking during the liberation war in the late 1960s, he spoke of education saying, “We have always attached such great importance to education because, in the first place, it is essential for the development of our struggle since the involvement and support of the population increases as their understanding of the situation grows.

In the second place, a future independent Mozambique will be in very grave need of educated citizens to lead the way in development.”

Mondlane had a vision of not only Mozambique but the whole region that would be free from the shackles of colonialism, and he would express his commitment to his vision saying, “Ahead of us we see bitter hardships, but we also see our children running free.”

Following the independence of Tanganyika (later Tanzania) in 1961, Mondlane took up base operations in Dar es Salaam where the unification of UDENAMO, MANU, and UNAMI was realised to form Frelimo in 1962.

The President of Tanzania, Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere and his people provided both technical and material support in the form of shelter for Mozambican refugees and a rear base for Frelimo guerrillas, including training and equipment as well as hosting the Liberation Committee of the Organisation of African Unity. This support was also extended to all the other countries of southern Africa that were forced into wars of liberation.

After the death of Mondlane, Samora Machel picked up the torch and became president of Frelimo in 1970 and directed the liberation struggle to its completion, negotiations, transition and independence on 25 June 1975, becoming the first President of Mozambique.

He affirmed Mozambique’s support for the liberation movements in Angola, South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe, and his government provided a rear base and other facilities, especially for neighbouring Zimbabwe and South Africa.

His unrelenting support for liberation of neighbouring countries caused him to be a target of apartheid South Africa, and he was killed when his plane crashed just across the South African border on 19 October 1986, believed to have been drawn off course by a false beacon.

His contribution and that of his generation in the fight against colonial rule across the whole region is captured in a series of module of an initial 12 aspects of Southern African Liberation History intended to provide resource material on the regional dimensions and linkages of national liberation movements in the SADC region.

The first module Youth in the Liberation Struggle and Beyond is Introductory and is about the Youth, as most of those involved in the national liberation movements were Youth, who often went to live in neighbouring countries and worked together across borders to remove colonial rule and apartheid from the region. It is accessible online and the second module is in production, titled Teaching and Learning Liberation History.

The resource material seeks to share knowledge of the regional dimensions of the liberation period, the vision of regional integration, and the values of inclusion, diversity, peace and tolerance.

These modules are being developed by the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC) in partnership with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa. sardc.net


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