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About 320 kilometres separate the city of Beira from Mangunde, the birthplace of Afonso Dhlakama, in the district of Chibabava in Sofala. O País made the trip to speak to the father of the leader of the country’s largest opposition party, who passed away last Thursday.
The region bears the name of Dhlakama’s father, who is the ‘régulo’, or traditional chief. In fact, as eldest son, Afonso should have one day been his father’s successor as village leader.
Because of the recent misfortunes, we find various relatives and neighbours already in the Dhlakama house, with others still arriving to take part in Dhlakama’s funeral.
Although his health is weak and he was under pressure, Régulo Mangunde agreed to receive O País. The old man did not try to hide his pain at the way his son’s death came about, saying he was unaware of his son’s illness and was surprised to learn of his death.
Afonso Dhlakama became Renamo leader in the prime of his youth, and had held the reins of the party from the 1980s until the day he died. Asked about his son’s leadership, Regulo Mangunde said that he never thought that his firstborn son would become the prominent figure he was, coming from such humble origins in one of the poorest parts of the country. In fact, to his father, Afonso Dhlakama was one son just like the others.
Because of his poor health, the Chibabava district government has allocated an ambulance and a medical team to monitor the wellbeing of the traditional chief who, at 92 years of age, is even more vulnerable to strong emotion.
Meanwhile, the Dhlakama household prepares to receive and say goodbye to one of their children, who always maintained a connection with the land of his birth.
By Francisco Mandlate
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