Mozambique: Government decrees five days of national mourning for former Angolan President José ...
Photo: O País
Inácio Nunes, one of Frelimo’s co-founders, is still alive. He belonged to the National African Union of Independent Mozambique (UNAMI), of which he was also a co-founder, one of the ‘African Club of Tete’. Here, he talks about his relationship with Eduardo Mondlane and how the process of creating the Mozambique Liberation Front unfolded.
How did you come up with the idea of creating the movement that would later join and become part of the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (Frelimo)?
I was on Boroma mission, taking a course for teachers with indigenous qualifications. This is where I started to nurture the thought of overthrowing colonialism, because I had already been hurt because of my father relations with whites.
Mr Inácio Nunes, side by side with Eduardo Chivambo Mondlane,you helped to found the Front. Mr Inácio Nunes, which movement did you belong to, given that Frelimo was founded by joining three movements?
I co-founded UNAMI, together with Chagonga, Baltazar and other colleagues. I left the mission and went to talk to Chagonga, and Evaristo, who was a surveyor engineer at the time, but based in Tete, and that’s where we started to found UNAMI. We created the African Club of Tete, that’s where UNAMI was born.
How did you join up the other movements, until Frelimo was formed?
Well, after some time, after the creation of our UNAMI, it wasn’t even developed yet and PIDE started to con us. It arrested almost 50% of the members of UNAMI, but Imanaged to escape, with Chagonga and Evaristo. Chagonga and Evaristo ended up in Malawi. Actually, I was the one who went to warn them on the day they were going to be arrested. Together with Dr. Arroz, another member, we discovered that we would all be arrested, but we managed to have them both escape, and the same with other members.
Up to that point, Eduardo Mondlane was part of which of the movements?
He wasn’t even part of any yet, but we already knew about him because of the “zum zum” (word of mouth) going around at that time.
But the question is, how did your movement come to join up with Eduardo Mondlane?
When Chagonga and Evatisto fled to Malawi I went to settle in Beira, but PIDE found me there, so I had to return to Tete, and from there I went to Malawi where I found UNAMI, already with many more members. When I got there, Chagonga told me that he had managed to speak to Eduardo Mondlane, and we had to leave for Tanganyika. That was in 1961, just before the 1962 move to Tanganyika. In Tanganyika, we met other young people, including Marcelino dos Santos, who had just come from France, and had his students’ movement there. He was the link with Mondlane. In Tanganyika we found the João Munguambe group, and Lopes Tembe – others who had started to form movements, and from there we started to work together because the word was that, if we didn’t unite, Mondlane wouldn’t show up. He didn’t want to just come and play with all the young people – he wanted to come and work seriously. Marcelino dos Santos told him that we were ready, and I was even part of the delegation that met Mondlane at Dar Es Salaam airport. After two or three days, Mondlane called me and asked: ”What is your name?” “I am Nunes,” I said “I come from Tete.” “But are you also part of the delegation that will make Frelimo?” “Yes, I am part of it.” “Can we talk?” “Yes, we can talk,” “Then come to my office at 8:00 tomorrow,” Mondlane said.
The next day, the first person to arrive at the office was me, before even Mondlane, because I wanted to know what he wanted to say to me. He asked me, “Can you go back to Mozambique?” I said: “No, Mr President! I left the prison hole, I don’t have the courage to go back.” “There must be someone who has courage. We’re starting a war, we can’t wage war without an organisation.” Well, I ended up accepting it and said to him: “But, Mr. President, I have no training in how to organise such a population.” He replied: “We will arrange and organise everything, don’t worry, even for your work, how you will learn, do it and everything, we will organise it.”
That was how I accepted the first job that Mondlane gave me, and we became very close friends. Once in a while, he called me to give me some instructions, he gave me one of the people that came from America. He promised to bring someone from America, and actually I didn’t know who he really was. I found out that he was from the CIA – he really knew a lot about the CIA. He gave me this man to train me, and I spent six months with him in Dodoma learning my job in hiding.
How was your relationship with Mondlane, socially speaking?
I was very good friends with him, precisely because the work was going well. I had to be very good friends with him. Mostly, he invited me to lunch or dinner, and my job was to lay out what was needed. I really learned a lot from him. I took the first letter to Lourenço Marques, to deliver to (Domingos) Arouca.
What did Eduardo Mondlane stand for?
Unity! He didn’t say much, but really unity was what we wanted, because we already understood what the Portuguese’s objective was in relation to us.
You participated in the first Frelimo congress. Tell us about the emotions there. What was the first Frelimo congress like, taking into account that they had left small movements, founded Frelimo, and consolidated…?
Can you imagine, I was talking to a black professor (Eduardo Mondlane) for the first time? I had no idea: “Black professor?” I even asked Changonga “Is he really a professor?” He said “Yes, Professor. Do you doubt it?” I answered, “No. It’s just that he invited me to talk to him tomorrow.”
… And during the Congress, were they calmer?
We were already calmer. I was even in the group that was mandated to suggest a name and we suggested the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique, so when we took this to the plenary, nobody disapproved. Everyone approved our proposal (of the commission), and it was soon the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique.
In your opinion, is Eduardo Mondlane’s thinking being followed?
Frankly, no! To be honest, in fact, not all [his thinking] is being followed. The only thing that I feel is still followed is the idea of national unity. This is very good! Regarding the fulfilment of Mondlane’s ideals, I’d say 50% was forgotten. I really want to talk to the young people… We really want this unity to be real. Let’s change the way we walk, change our behaviour… We can’t do with this stealing… I am sad every day to see young people going to jail for stealing 100, 200 or 300 meticais.
By Francisco Mandlate