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Eduardo Mondlane: The man behind Mozambique’s unity

Carla Fernandes
April 22, 2020

Eduardo Mondlane had a vision of a free, united and independent Mozambique, unshackled from the Portuguese colonial authorities. Though he was assassinated while in exile, his legacy lives on.

African Roots  | Eduardo Mondlane

Eduardo Mondlane: The man behind Mozambique’s unity

When and where was Eduardo Mondlane born? Eduardo Chivambo Mondlane was born in June 20, 1920, in Manjacaze, province of Gaza, southern Mozambique. He worked as a shepherd until he was around 10 years old. 

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What was Eduardo Mondlane's educational background? Mondlane went to a Presbyterian Swiss mission primary school near Manjacaze and later studied Anthropology and Sociology in South Africa and (briefly) Portugal. It was there that he met other leaders of the African anti-colonialist struggle like Amílcar Cabral of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde and Angola's Agostinho Neto.

He then went on to complete his studies and obtain his doctoral degree in the United States of America. During his stay there, Mondlane gave classes at Syracuse University and thereafter joined the United Nations Trusteeship Council as a researcher on issues related to the independence of African countries. Among other things, he co-organized the British Cameroons referendum in 1961 that would come to define the borderlines between Cameroon and Nigeria. 

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What is Eduardo Mondlane renowned for? He was the first president and co-founder of FRELIMO (Mozambican Liberation Front) in Dar-es-Salam, Tanzania, in 1962, the movement that, after Mondlane's death, went on to achieve Mozambique's independence. Mondlane was a revolutionary pan-Africanist, internationalist and anthropologist.

What is Eduardo Mondlane revered for? Until this day, Mondlane is revered by many for having nurtured a pragmatic and unifying vision of Mozambique, paired with outstanding educational accolades.

How did Eduardo Mondlane die? On February 3, 1969, Mondlane was assassinated in Dar-es-Salam when he opened a package with a bomb inside. Some accuse his rivals in FRELIMO and PIDE, Portuguese International and State Defense Police, of being responsible for his death, but until the present day, his murder remains a mystery. 

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Did Eduardo Mondlane author any books? Eduardo Mondlane was the author of several books which include 'Lutar por Moçambique' (The Struggle for Mozambique), released shortly after his death. It is considered to be a very important document of the nationalist movement.  

How did the Mozambican government pay tribute to Eduardo Mondlane? The University of Lourenço Marques, in Maputo, the capital city of Mozambique, which was previously named by the Portuguese Administration, was renamed Eduardo Mondlane University at independence in 1975.

Scientific advice on this article was provided by historians Professor Doulaye Konaté, Lily Mafela, Ph.D., and Professor Christopher Ogbogbo. African Roots is supported by the Gerda Henkel Foundation.

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