Request Inspection Copy Description This comprehensive history traces the evolution of modern Mozambique, from its early modern origins in the Indian Ocean trading system and the Portuguese maritime empire to the fifteen-year civil war that followed independence and its continued after-effects. Malyn Newitt explores the historical roots of Mozambican disunity and hampered development, beginning with the divisive effects of the slave trade, the drawing of colonial frontiers in the s and the lasting particularities of the provinces. The settlement of the early s is now under threat from a revived insurgency, and the ghosts of the past remain. This book seeks to distill this complex history, and to understand why, twenty-five years after the Peace Accord, Mozambicans still remain among the poorest people in the world. He retired in This book charts the creation of Mozambique from colonialism and provides valuable insight into the deep structural and cultural challenges of Mozambique today.
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He has spent a lifetime conducting research on Mozambique and, to a lesser degree, Angola. The present study effectively summarizes and updates the latter. A Short History of Mozambique is organized into nine chronological chapters ranging from the sixteenth century to the present.
Newitt devotes almost a third of the book to the precolonial. By taking the long view, Newitt is able to highlight the continuities that cut across these somewhat artificial divides as well as the ruptures precipitated by colonial rule, the socialist movement, and the more recent neoliberal era.
He stresses the roles played by droughts and famines, political violence, slavery, and forced labor in the history of the young nation. Newitt is particularly attentive to ways in which local, national, and transnational factors shaped Mozambican history. One of the other real strengths of A Short History of Mozambique is the way the author integrates important changes in Indian Ocean societies, in South Africa, and in Portugal into his analysis of Mozambique.
A Short History of Mozambique, like his book, is very much a political history. It highlights the growth of a number of precolonial states including the Karanga kingdoms, the Maravi state, and the Gaza Ngoni and the growth of Portuguese warlords in the Zambezi Valley; he also accurately stresses that the process of state formation was neither linear nor irreversible.
The growth and transformation of these political entities was linked to political violence, rural dislocation, slave raiding, and famines.
The study ends with a concise summary of the political and economic challenges Mozambique faces today. He documents how Southern Mozambique was transformed into a labor reserve for the South African gold mines and farms, while the central part of the colonial state became entangled with neighboring Southern Rhodesia. He also discusses the system of forced labor and the imposition of brutal cotton and rice regimes, which further impoverished the countryside.
Quite to the contrary, at the moment of independence, Mozambique inherited a distorted and underdeveloped economy dependent on the apartheid regime in South Africa, whose legacy continues until today. We learn little about the organization of labor that produced the gold, ivory, and slaves exported in Indian Ocean trade.
Similarly, the religious and cultural dimensions of kingship receive short shrift, as do the ways that power was contested at the local, household, and community levels in the precolonial period. Most significantly, Mozambican women are rendered invisible throughout much of this book.
These concerns notwithstanding, A Short History of Mozambique is a clearly written and well-documented study. Hopefully, Newitt will have an opportunity to address some of the critical social and cultural dimensions of daily life in the next edition. Issue Section:.
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A Short History of Mozambique