Mozambique, a former Portuguese colony in eastern Africa, is undergoing yet another spasm of violence and mayhem in the north (perhaps not surprising for a country that features an AK-47 on its national flag.) Remnants of ISIS fostering a global jihadist ideal have joined forces with local marginalised groups exploiting local grievances and offering an alternative path for unemployed youths frustrated by a corrupt and neglectful state. More than half a million people in the region have been driven from their homes in the past 12 months by roving gangs of machete-wielding Islamist fighters who operate a slashed-earth policy of beheadings and killings.
Mozambique shares the same tragic history of many ex-colonial countries, having lived for centuries under repression, they then step into decades of civil wars and corrupt gangster governments – in this case, a Marxist-Leninist one-party outfit, in power since independence in 1975, though under pressure it morphed into multi-party democratic socialism in the 1990s – with the same party staying in power throughout with claims of rigged elections. Despite being resource-rich – coal, titanium, hydroelectricity, gas and a huge ruby deposit – Mozambique has staggering levels of poverty and inequality, which have worsened under the present president.
It gained independence after a bitterly fought war with Portugal on 22 June 1975, which gives a final degree Gemini Sun square Pluto; with an explosive Uranus opposition Mars Jupiter square Saturn in Cancer in the 4th. An afflicted Saturn in the 4th is certainly a description of a deprived domestic population, unfairly treated with Saturn square Mars; and destined to live through disruptions with Uranus square Saturn. The sadness is that Mars Jupiter has courage and resourcefulness, which is reflected in the vast agricultural and mineral wealth available which could lift the country out of poverty. There’s nothing much that looks cheerful in the next few years with the possibility of a revolution or rebellion in 2022/23 as Pluto squares the Uranus and there are dips and troughs from Solar Arc thereafter for several years.
Almost two decades ago, Tony Blair infamously described Africa as a ‘scar on the conscience of the world’ in line with a characterisation of the continent as one damaged by cycles of poverty, conflict, and disease. There are some steps in the right direction with poverty reduced by almost a third since the 1960s and political accountability and transparency improving in certain countries. But it does seem unconscionable for all its natural riches that it can’t be a prosperous region for its people.
What has been striking me recently – and I step gingerly into a fraught subject – is that the history of Africa we see reflected in movies focuses on the slave trade with nothing about what went on before. Whereas we know that Mali, for instance in west Africa, had a golden age when it was a significant learning and cultural centre between the 13th and 16th century with a major Islamic university in Timbuktu, attracting scholars from throughout the Muslim world. Zimbabwe still has remnants of elaborate stone buildings erected anywhere between 600Ad and the Middle Ages. In a way it was what Marvel’s ’Black Panther’ was aiming to do and there should be more of it – portraying a different face of Africa that is not just slavery and present day mismanagement.
‘Many have wondered why Black Panther means so much to the black community and why schools, churches and organizations have come to the theaters with so much excitement. The answer is that the movie brings a moment of positivity to a group of people often not the centerpiece of Hollywood movies… [Racial and ethnic socialization] helps to strengthen identity and helps reduce the likelihood on internalizing negative stereotypes about one’s ethnic group.’ Erlanger Turner.
There were high points in Africa especially on the trade routes and while the cycle of history shows that no civilization lasts for ever, there should be a greater understanding in the west, especially the racist USA, of Africa’s contribution in the past to learning and culture.