Accepted paper:

Opposition politics and the memory of Ndau nationalism in Mozambique


Justin Pearce (University of Cambridge )

Paper short abstract:

The memory of the strand of Central Mozambican nationalism represented by Uria Simango echoes in politics today.

Paper long abstract:

The multiple origins of Frelimo in regional proto-nationalist groups are well documented, as is the leadership crisis that followed the murder in 1969 of Eduardo Mondlane. In contrast to Angola or Kenya, for example, where the lineage of today's opposition parties can be traced directly to nationalist endeavours, Mozambique's opposition parties cannot claim direct organisational continuity with nationalist groups of the 1960s. Nevertheless, this paper argues that claims on the legacy of nationalist endeavours that were excluded from Frelimo after 1969 remain an important political resource for opposition parties in Mozambique today. I consider in particular the remembering of Uria Simango and the strand of Ndau nationalism that he is seen to represent. Drawing on interviews conducted in Sofala province and opinion articles published in the Mozambican press, I show how the legacy of Simango is invoked variously by supporters of Renamo and of the MDM, the latter founded by Simango's son Daviz Simango, but also by those who express dissatisfaction with the status quo without favouring any particular opposition party. This legacy was an important resource for Renamo in justifying its return to violence between 2013 and 2016. I show in particular how ideas from the 1960s are recast and invoked selectively in order to appear consistent with the liberal democratic positions taken in the official discourses of Renamo and the MDM.

panel His03
Alternative histories of decolonisation in Southern Africa