Mozambique cholera cases top 1 000 in wake of cyclone Idai
Mickey Rebelo dos Santos Photo: DW / R. Belincanta
Living in Italy for more than 30 years now, Mickey dos Santos Rebelo lost her Mozambican citizenship after being expelled from the country after independence. She spent nearly 20 years without returning to Maputo, and is still without a Mozambican passport.
Mickey Rebelo dos Santos – niece of Marcelino dos Santos and Jorge Rebelo, two founders of the Mozambican Liberation Front (Frelimo) – was expelled from the country after spending time in a re-education camp, where she failed to swear allegiance to Frelimo.
“I was expelled from Mozambique after having been in Matutuíne camp, a militarised re-education camp for young people. I was in favour of Frelimo, but I was 18 years old, wearing jeans, a free, bourgeois person. I had done nothing wrong, except for the fact that I represented myself as not communist. Remember, at that time Mozambique was called the People’s Republic of Mozambique, but I had no time for Mao Tse-Tung [the revolutionary Chinese Communist leader],” she recalls.
“I did not want to wear a Chinese uniform. I wanted jeans, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, that was me, so it wasn’t fair. But I understand why it happened,” she says.
At that time there was no forgiveness for those who opposed the ideals of the new independent government – not even for a niece of the founders of the party that has ruled Mozambique since 1975.
“It doesn’t matter that you are the niece of, in this case, two very important [politicians] – Marcelino dos Santos and Jorge Rebelo. You go to re-education anyway,” she says.
“I got a shock because I came from the bourgeoisie, I’m not ashamed to say. But I had a good heart and the proof is that I am still here and never betrayed my country. I never agitated against Mozambique, I still loved my country, as I love it still today,” she says.
Two decades without going “home”
Without a passport, Mickey was unable to return home for almost 20 years.
“I have lost my nationality, and I have to regain it, which is a different process from the one I lost, just because I left. I was expelled and, at that moment, I lost my citizenship,” she explains.
“Then I heard my grandmother had given Marcellino dos Santos an ultimatum, saying, ‘Look, you find my granddaughter or I’ll beat you’. And Marcellino, who loved his mother deeply, started looking for me and found me. After that, when I was with Marcellino, he told me: ‘You can go to Mozambique’.”
“So I made my first visit to Mozambique, an enormous emotion because it is your land, and when you arrive, you smell the earth, the rain, the people, the love, the food,” she says.
Relationship with the opposition and expectations for the future
Mickey retains an esteem for the historic leader of the Mozambican National Resistance (Renamo), Afonso Dhlakama, and regrets the death of the opposition leader.
“Among my plans was to greet him and thank him, because in any case there cannot be a democracy without an opposition,” she reveals. “I think Dhlakama did a lot for Mozambique and his image was important.”
“I was quite disillusioned with Frelimo, by what happened with the past government. There are a lot of things that have not been clarified. I think he Chissano did a good job, but after him, it was a disaster. It was not good. Mozambique sank a long way,” she says.
Mickey hopes to enter her country as a citizen, not as a foreigner.
“The passport problem is a problem of the heart – it’s not about having a passport. It’s sad that I have to queue two hours because I’m a foreigner, don’t you think? I’m not a foreigner, I’m a Mozambican,” she concludes.Source: Deutsche Welle