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« Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #34 of 54: Morocco | Main | Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #36 of 54: Namibia »

August 10, 2006

Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #35 of 54: Mozambique

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) ---
35. MOZAMBIQUE
Flag of Mozambique

Formal Name: People's Republic of Mozambique.

Terms for Citizens: Mozambicans.

Capital: Maputo. Population: 1,134,000.

Independence Achieved: June 25, 1975, from Portugal.

Major Cities: Maputo.

Geography:

Mozambique is located in Southeast Africa. It is bordered by South Africa, Tanzania, Malawi, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe and the Indian Ocean. Mozambique is 309, 495 square miles. The climate is tropical, with a rainy season (October-April) and dry season (May to November).

Society:

Mozambique’s population is estimated at 18, 863,000. Over 90% of the population is rural. The urban population is mostly around the capital city and other coastal towns.

Ethnic Groups:

Mozambique is composed of several Bantu groups: Macua-Lomue, Tsonga, Shona, Manyika, Ndau, Chopi, Maravi, Yao, Maconde, and Ngoni.

Religion:

30% Christian, 12% Muslim and the rest indigenous African beliefs.

Education:

Free elementary school. Literacy rate is estimated at about 47.8%.

Economy:

Agriculture is the primary economic activity in the country, employing about 90% of the labor force. GDP estimate: $19.2 billion; Per Capita GDP: $1,000. Monetary Unit: Metical (MZM).

History and Government:

Mozambique was a Portuguese colony. The Portuguese considered Mozambique part of Portugal itself and refused to give it independence. That led to a protracted war for independence that culminated in the Portuguese been defeated and leaving the county in droves. Mozambique is divided into ten administrative provinces with a governor governing each province. The provinces are further divided into 112 districts and 894 localities. The central government is still dominated by Frelimo, the political party that fought for Mozambique’s independence. In recent years, other parties are increasingly challenging Frelimo and the result has been political strife. After a bloody civil war, the country appears to have settled into some peace, with President Joaquin Chissano at its head.


CONTEMPORARY HISTORY AND POLITICS

The earliest know people living in what is now called Mozambique were the Khoisan. Bantus came to the area during the Bantu migration.
Arab traders visited the area and established slave buying stations along the Coast. In 1498 the Portuguese came calling and eventually settled in the area.

Portugal considered its African colonies as overseas provinces of Portugal and did not consider independence for them. But after the Second World War, the desire for independence was in the air and Africans everywhere were demanding independence from their European colonial masters. Portugal refused to listen to that demand and in 1966 several pro-independence groups formed the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique, FRELIMO. They went to the bush and began a long guerilla welfare that eventually drove the Portuguese out of Mozambique in 1975.

The leader of independent Mozambique, Samara Machel, was initially oriented to socialism and tended to support freedom fighters in Apartheid South Africa. To fight back, the leaders of South Africa sought ways to destabilize Mozambique, including funding the Mozambican National Resistance (RENAMO), a rival group to FRELIMO, and, ultimately, a shooting war broke out between supporters of FRELIMO and RENAMO.

Mozambique entered a civil war that lasted many years, a war that saw the destruction of most of the country’s infrastructure and the displacement of millions of persons (refugees ran to neighboring African countries as well as internally).

Mr. Machel died in a suspicious plane crash and his successor Joaquin Chisano continued the reforms he begun. Today, Mozambique has embraced market economy and moved towards democracy.

A new constitution was written in 1990 that permitted multi party elections. FRELIMO won the ensuing election in 1994. Joaquin Chicano was reelected in 1999 and, as the constitution stipulated, did not compete in the 2004 elections, which FRELIMO also won and Armando Guebuza became the President in February 2005. Thus, government was successfully transferred from one person to another, a rarity in African politics.

Mozambique is divided into ten provinces, which, in turn, are subdivided into 129 districts.

Mozambique’s economy was shattered by its civil war but the country is on the rebound. Currently, its income per capita is $1,300, compared to $120 during the height of the civil war.

On the whole, Mozambique is one of the success stories of contemporary Africa; it has gone from a planned economy to a well regulated capitalist economy and is increasingly doing something for economic development and improving the lives of its people.

Ozodi@africainstituteseattle.org

Posted by Administrator at August 10, 2006 09:49 AM

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