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FRELIMO founder Marcelino Dos Santos dies aged 90

FRELIMO founder Marcelino Dos Santos dies aged 90

One of the most prominent revolution activists and the founder of the Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo), Marcelino dos Santos, died on February, 11. He passed away in Maputo at the age of 90, Africa News reports.

Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi confirmed the sad news during his speech.

“We have lost our icon, Comrade Marcelino dos Santos”, said the national leader and promised to revel more details a bit later. Among the Mozambicans, Marcelino dos Santos was known not only as the political leader but as poet as well. In 2015, the government has declared dos Santos a national hero, so his funeral will be especial.

For modern democratic Mozambique, the name of Marcelino dos Santos means a lot. He was deeply involved in nationalist policies from an early age. He founded the Conference of Nationalist Organisations of the Portuguese Colonies (CONCP) in 1961, and became General Secretary of this organisation.

In the 1960s, the first Mozambican nationalist movements were being set up, and dos Santos became head of the foreign relations department of UDENAMO (National Democratic Union of Mozambique).

In 1962, UDENAMO merged with two other movements, MANU (Mozambique African National Union) and UNAMI (National African Union for the Independence of Mozambique) to form FRELIMO, under the leadership of Eduardo Mondlane. It was dos Santos who wrote the first FRELIMO statutes.

In 1975, Mozambique has gained the independence from France. Dos Santos became Minister of Planning and Development in Machel’s first government. The politician held several other senior state and party positions, but perhaps the most important of these roles was that of chairperson (speaker) of the Mozambican Parliament, the People’s Assembly from 1986 to 1994.

He was at the head of what became the most reforming parliament in Mozambican history – which abolished the one party state, replacing it with political pluralism, approved a Constitution of the Republic which included guarantees for freedom of assembly, freedom of expression and freedom of the press, and even changed the county’s name – from People’s Republic to Republic of Mozambique.

The most significant fact is despite FRELIMO’s embrace of a market economy, dos Santos never wavered in his commitment to socialism.

His age and his increasing frailty restricted his activities in his final years, but he remained a member of the FRELIMO Central Committee to his dying day.

Dos Santos was also a gifted poet who preferred to write under the pseudonyms of Kulangano and Lilinho Micaia. A collection of his poetry was also published in the Soviet Union in 1962.