- Created: Friday, 01 December 2017 11:12
- Written by Andy Higginbottom
Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! No. 64 - 15 November-15 December 1986
The People's Republic of Mozambique was declared on 25 June 1975. Born out of ten years of FRELIMO's guerilla war it was the first expression of people's power in Southern Africa. The new republic's President, Comrade Samora Machel, was just 41 years old.
Portugal first invaded the country four centuries before in pursuit of its slave trade — over 2 million Mozambicans were abducted. By the mid-20th century the colony had been turned into an engine for the exploitation of surplus labour. In the south, adult men were shipped to the British-owned mines in Rhodesia and the Transvaal — between 1900 and 1920 alone more than 63,000 died. The mine owners paid a portion of the wages in gold direct to Portugal: it was the colony's main source of income.
Portugal practised ruthless social discrimination to provide a buffer of privilege for the settlers. 95% of the population was kept illiterate. Eighty-five per cent lived in the countryside and there was little industrial development. The administrators, managers and the few skilled workers were Portuguese.
The colonial regime's suppression of all democratic rights was demonstrated in 1960 when the army massacred 600 unarmed peasants. The Mueda massacre was Mozambique's Sharpeville; it marked the turning point for the opponents of foreign rule.