Liberation heritage and the politics of heritage in postcolonial Mozambique

Since Mozambique gained its independence from Portugal in 1975 only three sites have been declared National Heritage Sites. All three sites, the historic sites of Matchedje, Chilembene and Nwadjahane, which were declared in 2008, are related to the country’s national liberation struggle and they are commonly designated heritage of the National Liberation Struggle. The heritageisation of the liberation struggle has been further demonstrated in the declaration of 2011 as the ‘Year of Samora Machel’, considered the ‘father of the nation’. Running parallel to, but separate from the state’s latest promotion and monumentalization of liberation heritage, and also pre-dating it, is public opinion in Mozambique which proudly remembers Samora Machel, particularly for his ideals of social justice and equality, which many would say is in sharp contrast to the current Government. While some Mozambicans certainly support the government’s initiative in setting up monuments, memorials and promoting the legacy of the struggle, many others have contested the specific politics of representation and memorialisation that underline current heritage projects. In this paper, I discuss how ‘the past’ is constituted and utilized by different social groups in contemporary Mozambique.

About the Author

Albino Jopela is a lecturer of archaeology and heritage studies at the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology at the Eduardo Mondlane University in Mozambique and a PhD candidate at the School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. He is also a researcher at Kaleidoscopio (Research in Public Policy and Culture) in Mozambique and Vice-President of the PanAfrican Archaeological Association. His research interest includes heritage management systems (traditional custodianship systems), rock art conservation, heritage sociopolitics and liberation heritage in Mozambique and southern Africa.


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