A Little Mozambican History

                   Um Pouco de História Siglo XX  

 While Franco ruled in Spain for most of the last century, Portugal had its own fascist dictator: António de Oliveira Salazar. While insisting on keeping the African colonies, Salazar involved Portugal in a long, multi-front war in Angola and Mozambique from 1962-1975. This ruined the Portuguese economy and morale. While most British and French colonies were given their independence by the end of the 1960's, the Portuguese colonies had to fight for theirs. The Mozambican freedom fighters called themselves

FRELIMO     (Frente de Libertação de Moçambique). 

  Their leader was Eduardo Mondlane. He married an American woman and even taught at Syracuse before returning to Mozambique via Tanzania as its liberator. Imagine having been a student of his! He was assasinated in 1969. It was Samora Machel who became Mozambique's first president, and  later died in a plane   crash. 2006: SA in fresh Machel death probe

  FRELIMO was originally a Marxist rebel group. After Portugal's surrender in 1975, FRELIMO took control of the country.  A powerful opposition group, RENAMO, arose and there began a civil war  which lasted until 1992. RENAMO was backed by the apartheid regime in South Africa, disgruntled Portuguese and the anti-communist Reagan government.

Former president Samora Machel The end of the civil war is closely related to the fall of the Soviet Union, which, along with Cuba, supported the FRELIMO government. In 1992, FRELIMO agreed to open up its markets, hold democratic elections and declared that it was no longer a Marxist state. RENAMO no longer had a nominal motive, and the war came to an end. The two armies became political parties.

     Mozambique is now a peaceful country. There are only ocassional flares of political unrest. Joaquim Chissano voluntarily did not seek yet another term as president, allowing for fair elections between the two parties in 2004. FRELIMO's Armando Guebuza is now the president.


This was an advertisement I saw in Mais magazine, I think for a bank. It says "We don't look East or West: we look forward. - Kwame Nkrumah" Nkrumah was a Ghanian leader who also had to deal with Cold War conflict while leading his country. He was eventually overthrown in a CIA backed coup.        But the quote is nice.

 While democracy seems to be working well in Mozambique, proven by the peaceful elections in 2004, corruption is an issue. Corruption is an issue in most of the developing world.

                               And HIV/AIDS is also an issue.


Grafitti about HIV-Aids, Maputo






                             Women carry the world on their sholders, literally.



 A chronology of key events provided by the BBC:

3rd century - Iron Age Bantu-speaking tribes move into area from west-central Africa.

11th century - Shona empire develops between Limpopo and Zambezi rivers.

1498 - Portuguese expedition led by explorer Vasco da Gama drops anchor off Mozambican coast.

  Ilha de Moçambique

16-17th centuries - Portuguese venture into interior. Following military campaigns, colonists set up trading posts and mining enterprises and parcel-out land to European settlers. 

18th-19th centuries - Mozambique becomes major slave-trading centre. 

Slave trade banned

1842 - Portugal outlaws slave trade from Mozambique, but clandestine trade continues for decades. 

1878 - Portugal leases large tracts of territory to trading companies, who use conscript African labour to further their interests and build infrastructure. 

1891 - Portugal and Britain define Mozambique's western and southern borders. 

1902 - Lourenco Marques becomes colonial capital. 

1932 - Portugal breaks up trading companies and imposes direct rule over colony. 

1950s-60s - Colonial economy thrives, attracting thousands of new Portuguese settlers to Mozambique. 

1962 - exiled activists opposed to Portuguese colonial power meet in Tanzania to form Mozambique Liberation Front - Frelimo - headed by Eduardo Mondlane. 

1964 - Frelimo forces begin war of independence. Guerrilla tactics frustrate Portuguese and Frelimo take control of much of north. 

1974 - Military coup in Portugal. New government supports autonomy for colonies; many Portuguese settlers desert Mozambique. 

1974 - Portugal and Frelimo sign Lusaka Accord; transitional government is established. 


1975 - Mozambique becomes independent. Frelimo rules under single-party system with leader Samora Machel as president. 

1976 - Lourenco Marques is renamed Maputo.

1976 - Renamo - an anti-Frelimo resistance group - is set up by white Rhodesian officers as clashes with Frelimo forces escalate and Mozambique imposes economic sanctions against Rhodesia.

1977 - Frelimo adopts Marxist-Leninist doctrine.

1980 - Renamo is supported by South Africa after collapse of Rhodesian regime.

1984 - Under Nkomati Accord, Mozambique drops support for African National Congress (ANC) in return for South African withdrawal of backing for Renamo. Short-lived ceasefire fails and Renamo continues its offensives.

1986 - President Machel is killed in air crash, Joaquim Chissano becomes president.

1989 - Frelimo renounces Marxist-Leninist doctrine.

Multi-party politics1990 - Government amends the constitution to allow a multi-party political system. Initial talks take place between government and Renamo. 

1992 - President Chissano and Renamo leader Afonso Dhaklama sign peace deal in Rome. 

1994 - Chissano is reelected. 

1995 - Mozambique becomes Commonwealth member. 

1999 December - Chissano defeats Renamo's Dhaklama in presidential elections. 

2000 February - Devastating floods sweep through south of country, forcing tens of thousands to flee and leaving trail of destruction. 

2000 November - More then 40 people killed in rioting at Renamo protests against 1999 elections. Renamo claims poll was rigged; international observers say election was free and fair. 

2000 November - 82 inmates die at prison in north, many of them Renamo supporters rounded up after election riots. Preliminary report suggests asphyxiation owing to overcrowding as cause. 

2001 March - Flooding in Zambezi Valley displaces around 70,000 people. Two upstream dams forced to open flood gates, releasing huge volumes of water into river. 

2002 June - Frelimo chooses independence struggle veteran Armando Guebuza as candidate for 2004 presidential elections; Chissano had declined to run for third term.

2002 November - Two defendants in murder trial allege that son of President Chissano is linked to 2000 killing of journalist Carlos Cardoso. Nymphine Chissano denies knowledge of murder.

2003 November - Brazil promises to build plant in Mozambique to produce anti-retroviral drugs for HIV-Aids sufferers.

2005 February - Frelimo's Armando Guebuza inaugurated as president after defeating his main rival, Afonso Dhlakhama of Renamo, in November's presidential poll.

2005 October - Work starts on a long-planned "Unity Bridge" over the Ruvuma river, intended to link Mozambique and neighbouring Tanzania.

2006 February - An earthquake hits the central province of Manica, killing two.

2006 July - The World Bank cancels most of Mozambique's debt under a plan promoted by the G8 nations.

2007 February - Chinese President Hu Jintao visits, promises interest-free loans for agriculture, health and education.

Thousands left homeless by flooding.

2007 March - Three days of mourning are declared after nearly 100 people are killed in an explosion at an arms depot in the capital. 

2008 January - More than 50,000 people displaced by flooding along the Zambezi valley.