The Life History of Raúl Honwana: An Inside View of Mozambique from Colonialism to Independence, 1905-1975

The Life History of Raúl Honwana: An Inside View of Mozambique from Colonialism to Independence, 1905-1975

The Life History of Raúl Honwana: An Inside View of Mozambique from Colonialism to Independence, 1905-1975

The Life History of Raúl Honwana: An Inside View of Mozambique from Colonialism to Independence, 1905-1975

Excerpt

Raúl Honwana was born in 1905. He has lived through and participated in many of the important events that have shaped Mozambican history. From this perspective his autobiography has significance as a “marker of transition” from colonialism to independence. In 1983, at the age of seventy-eight, he set out to tell his story. A man of prodigious memory and fiercely proud of his African heritage and Mozambican identity, Honwana sought “to preserve the past and to remind the young people of Mozambique of the long and rich history that antedated the armed struggle.” He was particularly concerned “that the contributions of men such as João Albasini, Robert Machava, as well as the founders of the Instituto Negrófilo and the Congresso Nacional Africano who fought against racial oppression not be forgotten.”

First published in 1985, Honwana’s book was both widely acclaimed and somewhat controversial. His story provides a unique view into colonial Mozambique. In the process, he addresses a number of important issues, including the role of “assimilados,” the ways in which racism structured the daily lives of non-Europeans regardless of their class position, and the variety of mechanisms that Africans used to cope with and struggle against colonial oppression. His autobiography also documents the long-standing ties between nationalists in southern Mozambique and the African National Congress—a subject of obvious contemporary as well as historical importance.

The idea of this book dates back at least forty years. From the time his eight children were very young, Raúl Honwana sought to instill in them an appreciation of their African roots, as his mother had done for him. “Almost every night when we were tired,” remembered Raúl Junior, “our father always told us stories about the past. He discussed his life and his family’s history, his pleasures and his frustrations. There were also some stories,” Raúl Junior continued,

Raúl Bernardo Manuel Honwana, Histórias Ouvidas e Vividas dos Homens e da Terra, Memórias e Notas Autobiográficas (Maputo, 1985). References to the Portuguese version of this book will cite Memórias.

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