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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 37, Number 5. 3rd April 1974

Brutal oppression by Portuguese

Brutal oppression by Portuguese

The refugees all had tales of hardship, brutality and suffering to tell. We spoke to several, and the stories were very similar.

Selifulaye Banda is a 56-year-old subsistence farmer from the Tete province of Mozambique. We asked him why he became a refugee. Through an interpreter he replied 'I left Mozambique because of the suffering caused by the Portuguese soldiers. A lot of my friends were killed by page break the Portuguese because they would not tell them anything about the freedom fighters. Those who were not killed had either their fingers or their hands cut off.'

I asked him if his wife and family were with him in the settlement. He replied that they were, but that in many cases husbands had to flee—'you just have to run from where you are and that's it'—leaving wives behind; The wives that were left behind have a terrible time. The soldiers in the Portuguese army would continually harass them. Sometimes they would kill them.'

The soldiers would come every day and annoy us. Sometimes they would destroy the crops by burning. Other times they would bomb the crops. People die of malnutrition. They also die of TB, malaria and leprosy. There used to be a hospital but the Portuguese closed it down. The Portuguese live in the towns, not in the rural areas; they couldn't care what happened to us.'

Selifulaye Banda was lucky—he escaped with his life and in one piece. There are others in the settlement who bear the scars of Portuguese brutality. One girl we spoke to had lost her baby—shot by the Portuguese Her own left arm was contorted and shattered. It hung there, grotesque and useless, a symbol of Portuguese barbarity in Mozambique.

Back in his office Mr Mwanza discussed the logistics of caring for 3,700 displaced people. When refugees come they are provided with the materials necessary to construct a house. These are usually small unsophisticated huts made out of mud bricks with a thatched roof. Food is provided by the farm attached to the settlement. The 500 acres are looked after by the refugees, and this year, for the first time, the settlement is expected to be self-sufficient.

Health and educational services are provided by the Zambian Government. Two medical officers have been seconded from the Ministry of Health and work full-time at the settlement. There is a clinic a short distance away. Malaria and TB are the main health hazards. There is no malnutrition, and a sophisticated water supply ensures that there is neither cholera or typhoid. Football grounds are provided for recreational purposes.

The 455 children at the camp all receive education at the local Zambian state school school. Uniforms are provided by the Government. This is done despite the fact that there are not enough places in Zam bian schools for Zambian nationals.

I asked Mr Mwanza if there was any strife or friction between the refugees and the Zambians in the village. He said there was none. As a general rule this was true of the three settlements, although this situation was particularly good at Nyimba because both the refugees and the local Zambians spoke the same language.