2013-01-04 18:40:07 UTC
As a student of journalism in north-western Tanzania, I was fortunate to have met
the American-trained Anthroplogy Professor and first President of the Mozambican
liberation movement- Frelimo when he addressed us during our tour of the
capital-Dar es Salaam . That was on? September 25, 1967 - the fifth anniversary
of the? start of the liberation struggle against the Portuguese dictatorship led by Salazar
and subsequently by Caetano.
In November 1968, I met him and his lovely American wife outside my home
in Iringa, southern Tanzania after returning from church on a bright sunny morning.
I had a long chat? and told them that I had just completed my reserve
army training - fortunately? also on the outskirts of Iringa and that I was going ?to
Dar es Salaam? to take up a job as ?my first fulltime job as a reporter with the
country's major English newspaper- owned by "Lonrho" ?the British mining giant
led by the controversial Chairman- "Tiny" Rowland.
Two months later, when opening a? package ?addressed to him at the home of the
American business executive-Betty King, he was killed by a package bomb
which destroyed his body to "pieces".
Initial and subsequent investigations carried out by the Tanzanian CID and Intepol
pointed "fingers" at PIDE. The irony of it all is that PIDE not only used a foriegn-
born agent in a goan - ostensibly called Almeida- but they were very successful
in using their greatest "mole" in? Frelimo's first Vice-President- Rev. Uriah Simango
who said the funeral mass in the capital.
Three years later, PIDE? claimed? another African victim in Cabral - the head of
the liberation movement in? Guinea Bissau.. (his brother took over the reins of
the party and the country).
So why did PIDE resort to thse is dastardly acts and on a wider spectrum- very
repressive measures -both at home and at the colonies.
The? succesfull Frelimo struggle ?- though long and protracted - paved the
way for? liberation movements from other Portuguese?colonies including
Sao Tome,Principe and Angola? which had three groups.
The birth of the African Liberation Commiittee- the liberation "wing ?of the
Organization of African Unity? in 1965- added? a "thorn" to Portugal's chances
of? keeping these colonies.
Portugal was particularly worried about losing??Angola- 14 times it size and and its
huge oil??wealth. As at January1975, there were about?half a million white Portuguese
nationals in Angola. (most of them went to? South Africa).
But the Liberation Commitee? Headquarters which was based in Dar es Salaam?
set out to seek all forms? of aid- military and non-military for all liberation movements
in Africa - including Nambia (formerly South-West Africa) ,South Africa
and Rhodesia (present day Zimbabwe)
This included getting sophisticated military hardware, the establishment of
training grounds and bases - both abroad and ?in some african countries- notably
Tanzanian and Zambia,??and otherr forms of aid -mainly from the Scandinavian
countries and India.
But as Mervyn said that? the governments in the ?western world- the USA,
Canada, England,France and Belgium? did not support the struggle out for
support for a western ally and Nato member, and may be because they
felt that the freedom fighters were nothing but a bunch of armed gangsters.
So the Commiitee was forced to resort to Communist countriues like
Russia and China and Algeria- whose Frelimo Representative was
Oscar Monteiro- the highest ranking goan in Samora Machel's
Unlike the events surrounding the December 1961 events in Goa,
The African liberation struggle was a great litmus test for Portugal and they
soon realized they were fighting a well trained guerilla warfare. With no
Christmas? and other Christian celebrations, it was a 365-day war
"seeping" not only into their limited budget , but also on their military.
Unlike the 1960 wars in South-East Asian, the Amercain reserve army
call-up was two years- one year in the U.S and one year in Laos,Vietnam
or Cambodia. In the case of Portugal - it was? four years- 18 months
training? in Portugal and 30 months in the african colonies.
If you came back alive- let alone dismembered - consider yourself very
lucky. This obviously brought a lot of sympathisers within Portugal
whose young loved ones were dying -fighting a losing battle. Hence
the persecutions, tortures and subsequently killing of the sympathisers
or from PIDE's perspective- betrayers.
The April 1974 overthrow of the right-wing dictatorship changed the
whole landcape and Spinola did not hesitate to play his cards well-
aided by? the very smart and flamboyant ?Foreign Minsiter, Dr. Mario
Soares whom I intervewed after his return from the Zambian capital-
Lusaka where the instruments for? Mozambique's independence were ratified.
From a goan perspective, the Spinola government finally recognized
Goa as not being part of Portugal; for both the Salazar and Caetano
governments continued to recognize Goa as an overseas province
even though they had neither De Jure nor De Facto control.
I have been told by many people that one of the master-minds and
architects of the April 1974 coup was the Mapusa-based goan
journalist- Aquino Braganza who intenselly ?studied sucessfull and
failed coups before requesting the army to make the "move"
And just before June 25,1975 - Mozambiue's ?indeopence day, Aquino
visited Dar es Salaam accompanying? Samora Machel - the
President -elect. (Machel who spoke fluent Swahili used to call me a
Mreno -Swahili for a Portuguese- because of my last name-Barros).
At our daily newspaper "Post-mortem" where we review all the stories,
my die-hard racist Managing Editor , Sammy Mdee told us all? that
Aquino is in town and I do not want anyone to meet him. (He hated
Indians- but respected me and my brother-in-law - a senior airline
executive who got?his?wife a job at the airline).
Since I was the country's only Goan journalist, I was determined to
meet and probably chat with him. I came to kniow that there was a
party later in the night for the delegation; so I "gate-crashed" misusing
my press card and managed to get in.
What surprised me? about? Aquino was that he was ??surrounded by
so many people all waiting to talk to him; whilst very few people
were speaking to Machel?. I had to be content with merely introducing
myself to him
Machel appointed him as his personal assistant and during his? three trips
to India, he would make it a point to go to Goa to visit Aquino's sick mother
Sad to say,? the aircraft Aquino was travelling with ?Machel on a? southern african
trip in 1986, was shot down as the? Russian pilot? "veered" into South African
airspace- then considered enemy territory. Everyone was killed.
His second wife- Graca (Grace) Simbine who was the Education Minsiter
in his first cabinet? later ?became the second wife of South Africa's first President -
Nelson Mandela? giving her the unique positon of being the? first- if not
the only woman in the world- to be married to Heads of States of two
When Machel married Graca, We received a State House notification
from the Office of Tanzania's first President- Julius Nyerere - that we
should only refer to her my her maiden name.
It was apparently felt that Machel's? first wife and fellow freedom fighter-
Josina Machel-??should use his last name. Josina died at a Dar Es Salaam
hospital on April 7, 1972- the same day that Zanziibar's strongman and
Tanzania's First Vice-President- Abeid Amani Karume was
assassinated. (I covered her first anniversary death service).
My 1970 Managing Edictor- the controversial , unpopular, ?but highly
educated South African born Parsee- Miss ?Frene Ginwalla?- ?wrote a thesis
for her Masters at Oxford University, England on african liberation movements.
She later got a? doctorate? from Oxford in addition to two law degrees from
England's prestigious Inns of? Court.
She was South Africa's first Speaker after Mandela took power? and
holds a permanent position as Direcor Research in the ruling South
African party- the African National Congress. (She was deported
three times from Tanzania-twice in the same year).
Unfortunately, the only goan who could give us a wealth of information
on the african national ?liberation scene ?was my good friend and fellow
Velim village mate - Eduardo Judas Barros - the late Professor of
Communications at Sao Paulo University in Brazil . Eduardo - a catholic
priest turned Marxist- was very well known to all the politicians who
manned the former Portuguuse colonies? in addition to being the
Vice-President of the South American Public Relations Association.