02 February 2012

Eduardo Mondlane

African Revolutionary Writers, Part 4

Eduardo Mondlane

The attached text, given for reading as the main document of this fourth part of the African Revolutionary Writers series, is Chapter 5 from Eduardo Mondlane’s 1969 book, “The Struggle for Mozambique”. The chapter is called “Resistance – the search for a national movement”. It is the part of the book where Mondlane relates the foundation of the united liberation movement, FRELIMO.

The creation of FRELIMO – the movement that in 1975 achieved victory over the Portuguese colonialists in Mozambique – owed a lot to Mondlane’s work. Yet a large proportion of this remarkable chapter is devoted, not to political manoeuvres and negotiations, but to the cultural and intellectual origins of Mozambican national consciousness, some of them quite small. It is evidence of the high degree of importance that this great revolutionary, Eduardo Mondlane, placed upon all kinds of intellectual artefacts, and not just literature.

The place of intellectual output in revolutionary processes is part of “the point” of this African Revolutionary Writers series. It is notable that in this part, which includes three great Lusophone revolutionaries, Mondlane, Cabral and Neto, and one, Ruth First, who devoted the last years of her life to Mozambique (where she was assassinated by a South African apartheid-regime letter-bomb) they all give us strong cause to think how “to unite political militancy and intellectual work” and make intellectual work “an instrument of the revolution”. These quoted words are from a note by Aquino de Bragança, Director of the Centre of African Studies where Ruth First was working when she was killed by the South African bomb.

Mondlane, too was assassinated, as was Amilcar Cabral. Mondlane’s successor Samora Machel was also killed, in the contrived downing of the aircraft he was in. Aquino de Bragança also died in that crash.

Mondlane relates that in Mueda, Mozambique, on 16 June 1960, over 500 people were shot down by the Portuguese. This was in the same year as the infamous Sharpeville massacre in neighbouring South Africa. The Mueda massacre, he writes, propelled increased numbers of Mozambicans into the armed struggle.  Yet this event is hardly spoken of or written about in the English language.

The rediscovery of the texts used in this series was difficult, and took many months. No suitable text has yet been found to represent the thinking of Samora Machel in this series.  Such texts of Samora Machel do exist – the references in books such as Barry Munslow’s “Mozambique: the Revolution and its Origins” are good evidence of their existence – but they are in Portuguese.