Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Massacre de Mueda – 50 years

My mother has located my camera charger – in London.  So while it wings its way here I’ve been taking some snaps with my phone.  Not top quality, but better than nothing.

Two weeks ago we all headed up to the Makonde plateau for the 50th commemorations of the infamous Mueda Massacre, where a number (probably around 60, but some say 600, it depends who you talk to) of Makondes were shot dead when they protested the refusal of the Portuguese State to accept their demands for independence.  This demand was presented to the Administrator of Mueda before a large number of people, by a Mozambican recently returned from Tanzania where he had been inspired and encouraged by Nyerere.  When the Administrator and Governor (of the then Province of Mozambique) refused and made to leave with several people they had arrested, their Land Rover was surrounded by the angry crowd and they ordered the troops to open fire with tragic results.  Although the independence war was not to start for some years after the event, it is considered one of the earliest acts of resistance from Mozambicans, and subsequent violence by the Portuguese. 

This year the annual celebrations included a reenactment of the massacre, with a Mozambican friend of ours playing the role of the Administrator, an economic fair with all the Districts of Cabo Delgado Province, some private sector operators and several state bodies including the Quirimbas National Park, represented.  The President also came to take part in the celebrations.

Here’s Sebastian enjoying an elevated view of the show, although what interested him the most were the Presidential jets.  He was particularly delighted when we went to the airstrip to see them take off.


I haven’t been up to Mueda for something like 5 years, so it was nice to see old friends, get a taste of Makonde culture again, and show off Eva and the boys.  We did lots of shopping at the fair for the Chuiba houses: beautiful Makonde pots, which are decorated with elaborate patterns, brightly coloured straw mats from Palma, wood-cuts from one of my favourite local artists (remember the story of the frog?) and sculpture.

Eva behaved beautifully, travelling no problem and sleeping happily tucked in between me and Paulo, and snug in her sleeping bag (it’s cold on the plateau in June).  Here she is on the way:


All in all we had a fun few days, although I was disappointed to miss the Mapiko dancing (fantastic masked dances with frenetic drumming) on our first evening, as I thought I’d get another chance.  But hopefully it will be less than 5 years before we go again.


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