This past week I had the opportunity to travel to Mozambique with my SIT program to learn more about the relationship between Mozambique and the ANC during apartheid. During apartheid the African National Congress (“ANC”) was banned and some of their members became exiles in Mozambique, Swaziland, Tanzania and other countries within the continent. The SIT program’s visit to Mozambique centered around the history of FRELIMO, a liberation party led by Eduardo Mondlane, and the MK operative wing of the ANC.
Mozambique is a former colony of Portugal and gained independence in 1975. The country developed an allyship with the USSR during the Cold War and offered varying degrees of protection for ANC members during apartheid. Albie Sachs is one example of the many high profile ANC exiles who lived in Mozambique. Prior to our visit to Mozambique, my SIT cohort spoke with Albie Sachs over a Skype call and learned about the attack by the apartheid government that nearly took his life. At my visit to the Matola Raid Museum, I learned that on January 31st, 1980 there were 13 MK operatives killed in an attack scholars believe was also orchestrated by the apartheid government. At the time of the attack, the fallen MK operatives were staying in a safe house provided by the Mozambican government and planning counterattacks against the apartheid government. The purpose of the Matola Raid Museum is to commemorate the soldiers killed in this attack and present a timeline of FRELIMO’s relationship with the ANC. Under the leadership of Samora Machel, Mozambique supported the independence movements in South Africa and Zimbabwe. However, factions of Mozambican political parties were supported by the apartheid government, and they conspired to end FRELIMO’s control of Mozambique. This led to the Mozambican government forming an agreement with South Africa to stop supporting the ANC if they agreed to stop funding their opposition.
After visiting the museum, our SIT cohort not only reflected on the importance of Mozambique’s allyship with the ANC during apartheid but also on the nuances of such a relationship. Mozambique was a newly liberated country in Southern Africa and their fate was linked to their neighboring countries. We tried to consider possible reasons why Mozambique would form an agreement with the apartheid government despite their close ties with the ANC. The complexity of apartheid extended beyond South Africa’s borders and forced the global community to choose sides. My main takeaway from the Mozambique trip was that political change requires coalition building and solidarity. I am so grateful for the opportunities I have had to travel outside of Durban in order to further my understanding of South Africa’s Social and Political Transformations.