Frelimo’s political ruling through violence and memory in postcolonial Mozambique

Igreja, Victor (2010) Frelimo’s political ruling through violence and memory in postcolonial Mozambique. Journal of Southern African Studies , 36 (4). pp. 781-799. ISSN 0305-7070


The role of violence in sustaining the political projects of state ruling elites in Mozambique and, more broadly, sub-Saharan Africa, remains under researched. In Mozambique, many of the authors of the literature produced in the 1980s avoided writing about the issue of Frelimo's use of violence and the numbers and identities of the victims. This article aims to fill this gap. It focuses on the continuities in Frelimo's anti-colonial and post-independence violent trajectories, and the party's efforts to depart from the practices of the preceding regime and eradicate alleged enemies from society. In the early period of independence, Frelimo depended on the politics of memory as well as on mobilisation of Mozambicans through and to violence, transitional and revolutionary justice. This culminated in 1982 with the realisation of a week-long, complex political event known as the ‘Meeting of the Compromised’, under the leadership of the late Samora Machel. By examining Machel's behaviour at this meeting and the reactions of some of those who were compromised, this article reveals the political ambivalences of Frelimo's authority in postcolonial Mozambique, in that violence both enabled the Frelimo elite to rule officially but also seriously endangered their political project and brought great suffering to the people. These contradictions helped to show the fractures and increasing disarray of Frelimo's revolutionary project and fostered Machel's own political and moral collapse.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Arts - Department of Humanities and International Studies
Date Deposited: 26 Feb 2018 05:30
Last Modified: 26 Feb 2018 23:30
Fields of Research : 16 Studies in Human Society > 1606 Political Science > 160699 Political Science not elsewhere classified
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1080/03057070.2010.527636

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