Mozambique History and Politics

Mozambique History

Mozambique – from the Iron Age to the liberation struggle

As in most of the countries of southern and southeastern Africa, Bushmen – also called San – lived in the area of ‚Äč‚Äčtoday’s Mozambique for many thousands of years. The Bushmen hunted and picked berries and fruits.

Immigrant Bantu peoples displaced them over time and mixed with the original population. The Bantu originally lived in the Congo Basin and in southern Cameroon. In the first century AD, they made their way south and came to Southeast Africa as well. The Iron Age began.

The Bantu were already settled

In contrast to the previously indigenous tribes who still wandered around, the Bantu were sedentary. They worked the soil and lived from the harvest.

How do we know all this again? From finds that have been made in the region. In the southern city of Chibuene, ceramics and tools made of iron were found.

The Swahili culture

From the 8th century onwards, an Islamic culture called Swahili became important for the coastal region of Mozambique. She founded cities all along the East African coast. It did not have its own state.

Trade became important to Swahili culture. The people of the Swahili culture became middlemen for gold, tortoiseshell or ivory and also for slaves. They brought these “goods” from the African states to India and Persia. Their cities like Mombasa, Lamu, Zanzibar City or Bagamoyo stood for wealth and beauty. But their language was also equated with the language of the slave traders and was very unpopular for this reason.

Portuguese in Mozambique

Vasco da Gama on the way to India

In 1497 the first Portuguese landed in Mozambique. In 1498 Vasco da Gama passed Mozambique on the way to India and landed on the coast. Here he found a culture based on Islam. In the north of what is now Mozambique, da Gama met a sheikh who was called Moussa Ben Mbiki and after whom this island was named. The country name “Mozambique” was derived from this island.

The Portuguese subjugated the cities by the sea

But for Vasco da Gama the Arabs were not only welcome experts on the trade routes to India, which he was particularly interested in, but also competition. So he wanted to turn them off or at least drive them away. The Portuguese armed with cannons drove from trading town to trading town, from southern Sofala to northern Mombasa. They required the respective rulers to submit to the Portuguese crown. Those who refused were robbed and looted. Here, religious reasons were often defended by claiming that they wanted to convert people to Christianity. In truth, there were solid economic interests behind it.

The Portuguese determine the trade on the east coast

The Portuguese took over all trade on the east coast of Africa. In 1752 the region became a Portuguese colony. This rule of the Portuguese continued for many centuries. The Portuguese got rich mainly from the slave and gold trade. But slaves were not treated like humans and the population suffered greatly from the inhuman treatment.

Liberation struggle in Mozambique

But from 1964 the inhabitants of Mozambique resisted the Europeans. As early as 1962, a freedom movement called FRELIMO had formed. This stands for Frente da Libertacao de Mocambique and means freedom movement for Mozambique. Its first president was Eduardo Mondlane. Two years after it was founded, the armed struggle against the Portuguese began. There was fighting and many deaths, especially on the part of the Mozambican population.

The resistance fighters also disagreed. The conflict was only ended when the dictatorship in Portugal was overthrown in 1974. One speaks of the “Carnation Revolution”. The new democratic government of Portugal decided to give independence to the former colonies, including Mozambique, a country located in Africa according to estatelearning. On June 25, 1975 the country became independent and the People’s Republic of Mozambique was proclaimed.

Civil War in Mozambique

Marxist influence prevailed within the FRELIMO freedom movement. But since many people did not agree, another resistance movement called RENAMO emerged. This found support from South Africa and what was then Rhodesia (later Zimbabwe).

In 1977 a civil war began that was to last 15 years. This war turned out to be a proxy war between the West and the East. RENAMO was supported by South Africa, the USA and parts of Europe, while the Marxist FRELIMO received help from the Soviet Union, Cuba and the former GDR. Mozambique completely collapsed. It was not until 1992 that this terrible civil war, which resulted in many deaths and refugees, was ended.

Mozambique today

After this war, Mozambique was the poorest country in the world. Many landmines still bear witness to this terrible civil war today.

In 1990 a new constitution was introduced. There were several parties to choose from and the market economy was introduced.

President Filipe Nyusi confirmed in office in 2019

In the presidential election, which took place in 2019, President Filipe Nyusi, who has been in office since 2014, was confirmed in office with a large majority.

Mozambique History