Wed Oct 18 07:32:34 SAST 2017
Tributes pour in for Wits student

Tributes have poured in for a 19-year-old Wits University student who committed suicide at the weeke.

Mozambique and SA joined at the hip

By Mapula Nkosi | 2017-09-16 08:39:01.0

My late grand uncle was called ngamula (town squire) by everyone in the township as he would walk around the neighbourhood in his expensive striped double-breasted suit with a colourful pocket hanker chief and mirror spectacles while carrying a white cane just for show.

His name was Eduardo Mondlane and he came from Mozambique.

I later learnt he was not our uncle by blood, but the bond he formed when he and my late grandfather, who hailed from Swaziland, met in the city after they left their countries for greener pastures in South Africa, led him to be our adopted relative.

When I was in Maputo recently, courtesy of Southern Sun Maputo, a morning journey into the city with Maputo a Pe walking tours led us to Eduardo Mondlane University, my uncle's namesake.

Established in the early 1960s, the university is the first in the country and is today one of the most comprehensive when it comes to offering different disciplines.

It is named after the country's first Frelimo president, Eduardo Mondlane, who was assassinated in 1969.

Frelimo liberated Mozambique from Portuguese rule after a bloody struggle.

On the institution's corridors, walls and windows, images of Mondlane, Samora Machel who took over after him, and other leaders of the liberation movement, tell the story of the country's struggle for freedom.

This is also the place where Ruth First - activist, scholar and wife of South African Struggle hero Joe Slovo - received the parcel bomb that killed her in 1982.

The office where First was killed by apartheid agents is now derelict and used as a storage room. Outside, a big white rock serves as a plaque in her memory.

As I peered into the room filled with files and boxes, it brought home the intimate connection that many South Africans like me have with Mozambique, where many ANC operatives were exiled.

Walking in the land of my uncle brought home the deep connection we share with Mozambicans.

Former and current students, including architectural student Walter Tembe, took us on a tour of the institution. Tembe gave us a lesson about the country through the works of its well known artists housed in the gallery.

The works of the African Picasso, the late Malangatana Ngwenya also hang there. The poet and artist depicted the struggle of the people throughout the various wars.

Ngwenya was also imprisoned for his political activism.

The history-filled tour ended with the opportunity to mix with the locals at Tunduru Botanical Gardens, home to the city's fruit bats.

Two wedding parties were off-loaded at the gate, singing and walked to their chosen spot to take pictures.

In the afternoon on another fact-finding mission with Dana Tours, I learned more about the city of the acacia trees.

We went to the local train station and later the national museum where a lion given to Samora and Graca Machel on their wedding day, now stands as a stuffed guard by the door.

We visited a fort in the city where Ngungunyane, Mozambique's well known chief who fought against the Portuguese in the 1800s, was captured before being exiled to Portugal.

We also saw the remains of Vila Al Garve, the infamous house that once housed the Portuguese secret police that can be compared to South Africa's John Vorster Square, where political prisoners were tortured and murdered.

Indeed the political history of our two countries render us brothers and sisters from different mothers. This relationship makes it absolutely interesting and vital to visit Maputo as a holiday destination.

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