At the end of July, Rwandan troops landed in the northeastern province of Cabo Delgado in Mozambique. Within three weeks, they had recaptured almost 85 percent of the province from Islamist insurgents, who had occupied most of it for four years.
Last weekend, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame visited Mozambique and, with President Filipe Nyusi, visited them the troops in Cabo Delgado. It was the first time in four years that Nyusi, who sought a Pan-African hand from Rwanda against the rebels at the beginning of the year, was able to gain a foothold there.
Mozambique is ruled by Frelimo, a famous liberation movement. It has almost three times the population of Rwanda. Cabo Delgado alone is four times the size of Rwanda. In an ideal world, Mozambique would be Rwanda’s protector, not the other way around.
When I thought about how it came about, I kept thinking of a murder in Mozambique’s capital Maputo 21 years ago.
There’s a strange way murders and deaths can sum up time: the 1961 assassination of Congolese independence leader and nationalist Patrice Lumumba; the shooting of the charismatic Kenyan politician and Pan-Africanist Tom Mboya in 1969; the assassination of the first president of Zanzibar Abeid Karume in 1972; the assassination of the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda Janani Luwum in 1977; or even the 1980 New York murder of Beatles musician and peace activist John Lennon. The list goes on.
Sometimes the deaths have social and political ramifications. Most of the time, one just feels – or hopes – that the gods are opening heaven and sowing anger at evildoers, but nothing happens. Nevertheless, there is always a sign behind it.
On November 22, 2000, the famous Mozambican journalist Carlos Cardoso was murdered in Maputo. His murder followed his newspaper’s investigation into a $ 14 million fraud related to the privatization of Mozambique’s largest bank, Banco Comercial de Moçambique.
Cardoso’s murder shocked the African and global media and intellectual community to the bone. It was hard to understand.
In the trial of six suspects in the Cardoso murder in 2002, some of them alleged that Nyimpine Chissano, son of then Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano, paid Cardoso’s killer by check. Aníbal dos Santos, a Portuguese national alleged to have led the murder of Cardoso, was convicted in absentia in 2003 after escaping prison. A retrial in 2006, after the second escape from dos Santos, upheld his 30-year sentence.
In 2006, Mozambican media reported anonymous allegations that an arrest warrant was issued against Nyimpine Chissano following the intervention of the former president and his wife.
Hyenas who suck the life out of their lands.
The Cardoso murder marked the triumph of Mozambique’s vultures and hyenas who ate his fabulous revolution.
Mozambique still stands out with its gorgeous beaches, rich multicultural coastal culture and cool society, but in reality it’s a political tin man. It’s empty inside. When faced with motivated ragged insurgents, it folded like a cheap deck chair. The Cabo Delgado debacle in Mozambique did not start in 2017.
Charles Onyango-Obbo is a journalist, author and curator of the “Wall of the Great Africans”. [emailprotected]