Kate Monk's Onomastikon

(Dictionary of Names)



(Portuguese East Africa)

Capital : Maputo

Gaza, Inhambane, Niassa, Tete, Zambezia


This area was originally inhabited by various Bantu groups. They were joined by Arab traders who reached the coast in the C10th. In 1498, the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama was the first European arrival and in 1505 Portugal made it a colony. Gold, ivory and the slave trade, which continued until the early C20th, were the main resources. In 1891, half the country was leased to British companies which took away African land and after the last native resistance leader fell in 1895 colonial rule was systematically imposed. From 1926-64, the Portuguese government encouraged its people to emigrate to Mozambique where they were given land and slave labour. No native Mozambicans could own businesses or trade.

In 1951 Mozambique became a province of Portugal with a right to send deputies to Lisbon although only 'assimilados' (the 1% with citizenship) could vote. In 1962, Eduardo Mondlane persuaded various nationalist guerrilla groups to unite to form FRELIMO and it launched the ten-year war of independence with Samora Machel's invasion from Tanzania with 250 men. Mondlane was assassinated in 1969 but Machel took over and he and Marcelino Dossantos were in control of a third of the country by 1974. The overthrow of the Salazar dictatorship in Portugal led to independence under President Machel and Prime Minister Joaquim Chissano in 1975 despite protests from white settlers, most of whom left, taking almost all Mozambique's skilled and educated people. At this period, Mozambique was neighboured by two powerful white-run states, South Africa and Rhodesia, and although Machel supported the ANC, he had to remain on good terms with them. The guerrilla war was settled by the Lancaster House agreement in 1979 and Robert Mugabe, the new leader of independent Zimbabwe, was favourably disposed to Mozambique.

After a severe drought in 1980 and mercenary attacks by the Mozambique National Resistance (MNR or RENAMO) Machel tried to improve the situation but his socialist economy failed due to internal corruption, a fall in world sugar prices and reductions of earnings by Mozambicans in South Africa (which also mounted raids against ANC leaders in Mozambique). Many people died in South African backed MNR attacks and famine in the early 1980s and about a quarter of the population became refugees. Machel managed to make peace with South Africa under the Nkomati Accord in 1984, re-established friendly relations with the USA and toured Europe.

On Machel's death in and air crash near the South African border in 1986, former prime minister Joaquim Alberto Chissano took over and has improved security and the economy, strengthening ties with Zimbabwe and Britain. In 1987, he asked to attend the Commonwealth heads of government summit and Mozambique is now a member of the Commonwealth. Drought and MNR attacks continued in the late 1980s but South Africa was now providing assistance to defend installations such as Mozambique's Cabora Bassa dam.

In July 1989, FRELIMO decided to give up its Marxist-Leninist policy. Chissano was re-elected as party leader and president and a multi-party democracy was announced in late 1990. In December, a partial ceasefire was agreed and in 1991 peace talks were held in Rome, resulting in a peace accord. This was ignored by right-wing groups at first but signed later in the year, providing for the rival armies demobilisation within six months and a general election within a year.

The Makua-Lomwe are the largest of the Bantu groups which include the Thonga, Chopi, Tonga, Shona, Nyanja, Chewa, Makande and the coastal Swahili speakers. Portuguese is the official language and Makua-Lomwe is widely spoken. Religions represented are traditional beliefs, Christianity and Islam.



Maputo Nuagobe Samora Yaya    


Isaia Leia        


Chichuana Chissano Cossa Machel Machungo Mbazia
Mondlane Mutola Rusere Sanyang Sarea Simango
Vashko Zeca        

This collection of names was compiled by Kate Monk and is ©1997, Kate Monk.

Copies may be made for personal use only.

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