Samora Machel

Ohio University Press has a series of "Short Histories of Africa". I recently decided to pick up most of the collection for potential use as reading materials for classes. This post covers "Mozambique's Samora Machel: A Life Cut Short" (2020), by Allen Isaacman and Barbara Isaacman. Like the books on Nkrumah and Cabral, this one is relatively longer than the average in the series. This book is enjoyable and well written, for a class on Mozambique or revolutionary leaders, I would recommend this book (particularly for more introductory courses). A few notes:

[from the Foreward] "Discussing relations with countries like Zambia and Tanzania, he would observe that there were people in neighbouring countries who thought they were superior because they had been colonized by the British and not the Portuguese. Or he might ask, why was it that in colonial times our waiters would serve the Portuguese soldiers with courtesy and respect, but now would be rude to their own people? The answer was that the enemy was camping in our heads - we still had the mentality of underdevelopment." (p. 12-13)

"Lisbon also made the colony profitable by renting African workers to labour-starved South African gold mines and, to a much lesser extent, to white farmers and industrialists in neighbouring Southern Rhodesia. Beginning in 1897, the Rand National Labour Association, subsequently renamed the Witwatersrand National Labour Association, paid the government a fee for each Mozambican worker. It also set up a deferred payment system under which workers received half of their wages when they returned home and Lisbon was paid an equivalent amount in gold. By 1910, approximately eighty thousand Mozambicans - representing from 30 to 50 percent of the able bodied male population in some districts of southern Mozambique - were working in the gold mines." (p. 40)

"The principle that citizenship was not contingent on origin or skin colour was enshrined in Mozambique's new constitution, which outlawed all acts creating divisions or privileged positions based on race, gender, ethnic origin, or class position. Immediately after independence Frelimo initiated campaigns against ethnic regionalism, racism, and sexism. Broadcasts, newspaper articles, comic strips, bulletin boards, murals, and graffiti stressed the message that "from the Rovuma to the Maputo, we are all Mozambicans." (p. 121)

"Samora's government also rejected widescale use of incarceration to punish those who violated societal norms. Instead, reeducation centres or established shortly after independence. Samora's faith in revolutionary pedagogy and restorative justice shaped his thinking about the reeducation process, which dated back to the armed struggle. Moral and political education and the development of a work ethic would serve as the basis for rehabilitation. Samora articulated this vision in the following terms: "the reeducation centre should be a school where professional knowledge should be passed on and made use of. It is the fundamental task of officials in charge of reeducation centres to know the history of each one of the people being re-educated - his life history and his origin - in order to understand why he committed his crimes." (p. 128-129)

"As a young man, Samora was heavily influenced by Frantz Fanon's contention that "colonizing the mind" was the most insidious legacy of colonialism. In his 1977 acceptance speech upon receiving an honorary doctor of law degree from Nigeria's Ahmadu Bello University, Samora emphasized that "the ultimate effort [of colonialism was] to make out of each Mozambican and assimilado, a little Portuguese with black skin" and defined colonialism as a cultural act of rape. He believed that democratization of knowledge would free Mozambicans from the shackles of illiteracy, the tyranny of superstition, and the cultural arrogance of missionary education." (p. 132-137)

"In the last years of his life Samora and the entire Frelimo leadership had been forced to compromise their radical agenda. Mozambique's next president Joaquim Chissano, who served from 1986 two 2005, went even further totally abandoning the socialist project in favor of neoliberalism and market capitalism... The 1987 IMF agreement was the death knell of Mozambican socialism. The preamble of the new constitution enacted in 1990, while celebrating the struggle that led to independence, omitted any reference to free health care and education as rights of citizenship." (p. 198-199)

Enablers of Colonization and those in Solidarity:

"The West's support of Portuguese colonialism had driven Mondlane and many of those around him to adopt a more radical anti-imperialist stance, to the consternation of some of his more nationalist followers. This first group was backed by their host president Nyerere of Tanzania, who facilitated Mondlane's meeting with the Organization of African unity and the socialist countries." (p. 76)

"Samora's belief that the Nkomati Accord would provide opportunity for Mozambique to rebuild turned out to be illusory, since Pretoria never ended its military assistance to RENAMO. The South African Defence Force continued to air-drop arms and ammunition, use submarines operating off Mozambique's coast to resupply guerrilla units, and allow large numbers of RENAMO insurgents to cross into Mozambique from their camps in the Transvaal. Documents captured in 1985 at RENAMO headquarters in Gorongosa revealed the extent of the charade. South African security forces also kept resupplying RENAMO forces based in Malawi, adjacent to the Mozambican border." (p. 184)

"More than thirty years later, only incomplete evidence has been released about the cause of the crash. Those who planned and carried out the plot to kill Samora remain unidentified despite investigations by the Margo Commission, established by white-ruled South Africa in 1987; postapartheid South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which heard testimony on the crash in 1998; and a joint Mozambican-South African Commission established in 2010." (p. 192-193) 

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Amilcar Cabral

Ohio University Press has a series of "Short Histories of Africa". I recently decided to pick up most of the collection for potential use as reading materials for classes. This post covers "Amilcar Cabral: Nationalist and Pan-Africanist Revolutionary" (2019), by Peter Karibe Mendy. This book in relatively longer in this series, like the Nkrumah book, contains a rich historical contextualization and offers a detailed account. Some notes:

"Desperate to establish the pax lusitana, the Portuguese exploited the differences of language and culture and played off one group against the other, constantly making a distinction between the Islamized "neo-Sudanese" Fulas and Mandinkas of the interior, and the "builders of strong states," and the "animist paleo-Sudanese" of the coastal region, the " more backward peoples." Applying a racist anthropology, colonial officials-cum-social scientists considered the neo-Sudanese to be of the Hamitic / Semitic racial origins, which supposedly made them superior to all the other groups regarded as paleo-Sudanese." (p. 31-32)

Cabral commented: "All Portuguese education disparages the African, his culture and civilization. African languages are forbidden in schools. The white man is always presented as a superior being and the African as an inferior. The colonial "conquistadores" are shown as saints and heroes. As soon as African children enter elementary schools, they develop an inferiority complex. They learn to fear the white man and to feel ashamed of being Africans. African geography, history and culture are either ignored or distorted, and children are forced to study Portuguese geography and history." (p. 46)

"Regarding the supposed racial and intellectual inferiority of Africans, the famous Portuguese writer and politician Joaquim Pedro de Oliveira Martins insisted in 1880 that education for Africans was "absurd not only in the light of History but also in light of the mental capacity of these inferior races." Contemptuous of Portugal's proclaimed double mission of civilizing and evangelizing the "inferior races" and "barbarous peoples" of Africa "placed between man and the anthropoid" Oliveira Martins sneered, "why not teach the Bible to the gorilla and the orangutan, who have ears even though they cannot speak, and must understand, almost as much as the black, the metaphysics of the incarnation of the Word and the dogma of the Trinity?"" (p. 59)

"At Porto, the exhibition of sixty-three pretos da Guine (blacks of Guinea) drew huge crowds of spectators who gaped and gawked at the half naked "savage" women with their exposed breasts, the scantily clad men, and the nude children. The exotic Africans on display also included Angolans and Mozambicans in their replicated "natural habitats" of "primitive" mud-hut villages, in which they were required to live and display their putative lifestyles and cultures for the duration of the exposition. On show in much the same way as the animals in the nearby Porto zoo, the human exhibits were meant to testify to the supposed superiority of the white race." (p. 60-61)

"The increasingly favorable international environment was also due to Cabral's skillful use of the media to publicize the cause of the armed struggle, particularly in countries that were Portugal's NATO allies. From the early years of the war, he continually invited a number of journalists, writers, and film makers to make eyewitness accounts of the armed struggle in progress." (p. 152-153)

"When Luis Cabral's ex-wife, Lucette Cabral, met Nelson Mandela after his release from twenty-seven years of imprisonment, she admiringly told him, "You are the best." Mandela quickly responded, "No, there is Cabral."" (p. 200)

Notes on enablers and those standing in solidarity:

"… the concerned Lisbon authorities quickly sent reinforcements that included a detachment of F-86 Sabre jet fighter planes provided to Portugal by the United States for NATO deployment in Europe. These were later complemented by American T-6 Texan light attack planes and West German-built Italian Fiat G-91 light attack fighter aircraft." (p. 124)

"[Cabral] substantially increased the number of men and women sent abroad for military training, mainly to the USSR, the PRC, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Cuba, besides African countries like Algeria, Morocco, Ghana, and the host country ( Guinea-Conakry)." (p. 138)

"Following the report of a UN fact-finding mission sent to Conakry three days after the aborted invasion, Security Council resolution 290 (1970), adopted with the abstentions of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Spain, reaffirmed "the inalienable right of the people of Angola, Mozambique and Guinea (Bissau) to freedom and independence," condemned Portugal for the aggression, and declared that "the presence of Portuguese colonialism on the African continent is a serious threat to the peace and stability of independent African states." (p. 150) 

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Ending Aid Dependence

Looking for a different perspective on aid? A short publication (144 pages) called Ending Aid Dependence (2008) by Yash Tandon, with a forward by the former President of Tanzania Benjamin Mkapa, is well worth your read. The book is published by Fahamu, which also published Shivji's book on NGOs. A few notes:

"The political rationale and teleological direction of the South Commission Report was succinctly summarised by Nyerere in these five headings: development shall be people centred; pursue a policy of maximum national self-reliance; supplement that with a policy of maximum collective South-South self-reliance; build maximum South-South solidarity in your relationships with the North; develop science and technology." (p. 16) 

"Historically, all imperial projects begin with military conquest, then with economic restructuring so that the colonised country's economy services the needs of the imperial nations, and finally ideological conversion of the colonised leadership and population through education, training, etc. It is the same pattern with the present development aid architecture." (p. 22)

"It is clear that IMF bail-outs to the hard-pressed economies of all these countries in the South that, through ignorance or naivety, accepted them, were not to protect these economies. The objective, or at any rate the effect, was to bail out hard-pressed American financial and banking interests, and to create conditions for further control by American (and allied) capital over the national economies of the developing countries in distress. In other words, these developing countries were placed in distress through debt burden, trade liberalisation, and the other Red Aid conditionalities of donor funding, and then to get them out of the distress, the IMF moved in and cleared the way for AmericanEuropean-Japanese capital to take over. This, at least, is what evidence shows on the ground, whatever the neoliberal theorists might say in their erudite books." (p. 62)

 "Ending aid dependence is not a one-day project. Deeply embedded structures and the power of vested interests do not disappear overnight. Neither do they disappear on their own. Cutting off from aid dependence is an act of political will. Aid's demise has to be strategised carefully, like fighting a war, no less. It cannot be left only to politicians, or officials, or experts. However, without their active involvement the strategy cannot succeed. It is the combined efforts of the people and their leaders that can lift the mental shackles of the past." (p. 77)

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