A history of music and politics in Mozambique from the 1890s to the present

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A history of music and politics in Mozambique from the 1890s to the present

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This dissertation focuses on music and its historic connection with politics in Mozambique from the 1890s to the present, through the ‘lenses’ of songs in gitonga language from Inhambane in Mozambique. I studied the Vatonga people’s historical origins and culture and the development of popular music, I explored the processes of ‘Mozambicanization’, gender mainstreaming and internationalization of Mozambican popular music, I examined the role of national festivals of culture in the consolidation of Mozambicaness, and I examined the trajectories of Mozambican musicians in the diaspora and their contribution for the internationalization of Mozambican music. I argued that the relation between music and politics was continuous from pre-colonial, colonial to post-colonial periods. Music was affected by politics and affected politics. During the pre-colonial period, music was used as praise poetry to praise the rulers, kings, and elders, as entertainment, in social, religious, and political ceremonies, in rites and rituals, and as a social and political commentary. In the colonial period, the Portuguese tried to control music and remake it within their cultural politics of assimilation and the creation of a Portuguese nation and national identity incorporating the ultramarine colonies. They also used music to try and win over the hearts and minds of black troops in the colonial army. The Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO) relied heavily on songs and dance as an integral part of the liberation struggle. From 1962 the liberation movement used song and dance not only as a source of entertainment for its followers but more significantly to recruit new members, to instill pride in the past, to generate a sense of nationalism, to cut across ethnic, religious, and racial divisions. After 1975, music continued to be intertwined and interconnected with politics. The Mozambican authorities used music as a way of sowing artificial and external elements of identity in the collective memory of people, as part of the state-nation and cultural identity formation project. However, musicians appropriated music as ways of social critique and resistance, sometimes facing sanctions.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. January 2021. Major: History. Advisor: Allen Isaacman. 1 computer file (PDF); xii, 306 pages.

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MALAUENE, DENISE. (2021). A history of music and politics in Mozambique from the 1890s to the present. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/219306.

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