What traces have we left behind? Contribution to the conference “Respect and Recognition” in Magdeburg

From 22 to 24 February 2019 the “International Conference on Development Cooperation Mozambique-Germany with a Focus on Contract Work and Experts on the occasion of the 40th Anniversary of the State Treaty of the VR Mozambique with the GDR” took place in Magdeburg.

Katrin Bahr, who researches the GDR’s relations with Mozambique at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, among other things, presented her exhibition “Photographs of a Forgotten Time” and moderated Working Group 7 entitled “What Traces Have We Left Behind! Between solidarity and commerce. Experts and specialists in conversation on the context of governmental framework conditions and individual development”. As an input provider in their working group, I was asked to provide an impulse with regard to the traces left behind.

My contribution to Katrin Bahr’s working group focused on the framework conditions under which the experts and specialists of the GDR were active in Mozambique. Excerpts from my diary entries from 1986 show exemplary social and political developments under which we were active. The aggravation of the situation in the country, which ended in October of the year in the catastrophe of the crash of the presidential machine, becomes clear.

During the discussions in the course of the conference it became clear that the experts sent at that time were not primarily bearers of the political will of the GDR government, but came with their knowledge and skills to help the country in its development, build its economy, create infrastructure and eliminate illiteracy.

Katrin Bahr, Rainer Grajek

Working Group 7: “What traces have we left behind?”
Conference contribution by Rainer Grajek

With the transition to national independence in 1975, the victorious FRELIMO (founded on 25.06.1962) not only fought for the liberation of the Mozambican people from colonial exploitation, tribalism, racism and lawlessness. It immediately began to fight illiteracy and preserve the cultural diversity of the 32 ethnic groups. The close connection between education and culture was reflected in the creation of the “Ministry of Education and Culture” (“Ministério da Educação e Cultura”; MEC). The President of the Republic and FRELIMO leader Samora Moises Machel was aware of the great importance of this ministry for the development of the young state, so he put his wife Graça at the head of this institution.

The GDR had already shown solidarity with FRELIMO as a broad popular front and provided extensive support during the time of the armed liberation struggle (beginning: 25.09.1964). This was part of the GDR’s foreign policy objective of anchoring socialism on the African continent. Already in the 60’s the GDR was recognized by African countries. In addition to material solidarity, the GDR provided assistance in political education and training as well as in vocational and university education. The leadership of FRELIMO was deeply rooted in the people and wanted to realize the goals decided at the party congresses with the support of the GDR. For both sides, economic, political, scientific-technical and scientific-cultural cooperation meant new territory on which to gain experience. After mutual visits by Samora Machel and Erich Honecker, a treaty on friendship and cooperation between the GDR and the People’s Republic of Mozambique and a programme for long-term economic cooperation were concluded on 24 February 1979. More than 80 bilateral agreements were subsequently signed and (in part too) large agricultural and industrial projects were launched. Some 7200 experts, specialists, officials, teachers and technicians from the GDR worked in Mozambique between 1977 and 1990. From then on, the GDR supplied trucks, supported coal production in Moatize, and helped with agriculture and fishing. In 1983 alone, about 1000 GDR citizens were active as specialists in Mozambique.

The work of the GDR co-operators and their Mozambican partners took place under the conditions of a murderous gang war. The “bandidos armados” (armed gangs) were supported by Southern Rhodesia and South Africa. Gangs of the RENAMO (Resistência Nacional de Moçambique; National Mozambican Resistance) killed aid workers from the GDR. In the 1980s thousands of Mozambicans came to work in the GDR.

At that time Mozambique was considered one of the poorest countries in the world. And the civil war ate itself like a cancer ever deeper into the country. The raging of RENAMO left dead, destroyed villages and streams of refugees.

I came to Mozambique, inspired by the feeling of happiness to be allowed to travel to Africa and to do useful things for this country in the Maputo Ministry of Education. With me, my wife Ute and our eight-month-old son Andreas.

The contract about friendship and cooperation was two years old at the time of my entry. His 40th anniversary demands a comparison between then and now.


What situation is Mozambique in today? What has changed, has it got better or worse? These questions have been and will be answered in other presentations.

I would like to address questions such as the following: How did we live in Mozambique in the 1980s? We: our Mozambican partners and the GDR cooperation partners. What determined our lives?

1986 was Mozambique’s fateful year.

For me it began with the change to another national directorate in the Ministry of Education. My two partners were the Mozambican Abel and the Cuban Rogelio.

The Frelimo secretary of the ministry, Rui Mabjaia, explains on 22 February the critical situation in the country, in the Xenon the security situation is discussed in a short meeting of all GDR citizens. The constant escalation of this situation meant that my wife and our son were not allowed to enter Mozambique again. The following excerpts from my diary are intended to show how justified this was and under what conditions we and our Mozambican partners lived and worked. They also provide background facts on the photos that can be found in Katrin Bahr’s exhibition.


23.02.1986

Visiting cinemas, restaurants and mass gatherings is prohibited. For today, Sunday, was also beach prohibition. Recently a blasting charge in a parked radio is said to have exploded at the central market. Therefore we should not stay long at the market. A bomb went off on the beach recently and two Mozambicans were injured.

25.02.1986

I got a surprise visit from Celso at the Ministry this morning. The joy of reuniting was mutual. He just came from donating blood. Yesterday a bus was attacked on the road to Namaacha: 7 dead and 23 injured.

It’s a good thing that we were banned from the beach on Sunday, another bomb went off. 1 injured.

27.02.1986

Last night our people from Mocuba (textile factory) were evacuated and brought with a military machine (17 persons).

My friend and colleague Ribas from the neighbouring department had asked my wife to become the godmother of his newly born daughter and to give the child her first name. The girl is now called Ute Laurinda. Actually private contacts to Mozambicans are not desired from GDR sides. We always saw it differently.

28.02.1986

The security system will be “perfected”: From now on, a sheet must be completed in duplicate (each Saturday to Friday) containing all information about changes of location in advance (e.g.: Tuesday, 17.15 to 18.15 walk, etc.).

The beach is still closed for us.

For the sake of caution we have baked a white bread. I still have frozen bread, but at Versina there should be no rye flour.

11.03.1986

Estevão, the brother of a Mozambican colleague, has worked in steelworks in the GDR and now lives again in the district of Hulene.

Estevão visits me in the afternoon at the ministry. He is emaciated. He is very happy about the reunion. He earns 2800 Meticais a month (140 Marks) in a company that belongs to the “Electricidade”. The unskilled workers of his company have the same income.

In the Notícias an article with pictures is published according to which the BAs killed a Mozambican in Manhiça. Women had their ears cut off.

The Notícias is hard to get; now it costs 10 Mtc (formerly 5 Mtc). When I meet our newspaper messenger, I get a copy. Also the weekly “Tempo” is hard to get.

The day before yesterday Titosse showed me the participant certificate and the bronze plaque that every Olympic participant received in Los Angeles. The Mozambican team consisted of seven participants. In the USA he had bought a recorder (record player, cassette, radio) for over 200 dollars. The Mozambican customs demanded 6000 Mtc customs duty from him upon re-entry.

Water hasn’t been running for days. The pump is broken. Almost every day power failure in our house.

Estevão’s sea chest from the GDR arrived well, as did his electric stove. He is now standing in his father’s house in Hulene. But Hulene has no energy supply.

12.03.1986

Last and penultimate night: BAs attack two factories in Matola, including “Pilhas”. Attack on a bus on the road to Namaacha. Dead and injured.

14.03.1986

Our colleagues will have to make do for a long time only with gas cylinders, because there is no electricity because the BAs have blown up more than 40 line masts in Beira.

16.03.1986

Yesterday was the first time in a long time that the Minister of Education had been seen again. Graça Machel came with two military jeeps. In addition eight soldiers guarded, of it four with machine pistol in the Anschlag.

Today (this also explains the above), when Günter K. and I wanted to go to Maxaquene Bath, we were informed by the head of state, Georg R., that Maputo is on high alert: South Africa and Bandidos have announced that the city is to be bombed with heavy weapons today. The defence staff in Mozambique is meeting, the ambassadors have been informed. We should avoid crowds, we are free to go to the bath. In the bathroom it’s noticeable: there are no Soviet cooperation partners! The Xenon cinema is cancelled. The alert is valid until Monday morning, 7 o’clock (anniversary N´komati- contract).

19.03.1986

I met Senhor Gollias again. He told me about his mission in Tete province in February. There is hardly anything to buy there, the population is fed by international aid shipments. Nobody wants to give anything for money.

He exchanged a goat for a shirt. 9 out of 300 schools work! The directors are incapable of running the schools. The Ministry delegation carried out a course with directors to enable them to work out a “Horario” and the “Plano das assistências”. Fluctuation in the schools. Teachers partly 100% untrained. The farmers leave the country and move to the cities. As a result, the schools are overloaded. The teachers are willing, but there are neither curricula nor textbooks, among other things. He tells an example from the province of Inhambane (Xai-Xai): Last year a school found out what was wrong. The delegation was praised by the minister because concrete tasks were set (repairing tables and benches, toilets, washrooms, …); the provincial leadership was made responsible for compliance. This year’s inspection revealed that all shortcomings still exist.

23.03.1986

In the night from Friday to Saturday: battles in Matola. The explosions of grenades can be heard and seen from the teacher’s house. Senhora Eulália, our boss at the DOP, confirms the events. She lives in Matola.

24.03.1986

Only today in Notícias on page 2 you can read about Friday night in Matola: 29 bandidos were killed, 5 inhabitants died; 15 prisoners were freed. 2 weeks ago 8 bandidos were killed at the factory “Tudor”.

31.03. / 01.04.1986

On March 30, 10:15 a.m., a military plane type AN 26 crashed.

April 1 is a national day of mourning in Mozambique. Notícias writes that 49 passengers – including children – were on board in the plane crash. There were 5 seriously injured survivors. Also the crew is dead: Soviet pilots (commander, co-pilot; navigator) and 3 Mozambican crew members.

Samora Machel breaks off his Soviet Union trip on 2 April because of the plane accident.

10.04.1986

Today Christa R. and I accompany 7 women (Women’s Commission), who want to get to know the Mozambican school reality, 14 to 16 o’clock in the Escola Primária “A luta continua”. Director Maposse (3rd year in office). Number of teachers: 46 (mostly untrained). Number of pupils: 2400. Lessons in three shifts: 6.30 to 10 o’clock; 10.30 to 13.50 o’clock; 14 to 17.15 o’clock. Some teachers teach voluntarily in the 1st and 2nd shifts because they attend evening classes themselves. We see a mathematics lesson in the 3rd grade. The teacher has finished the 9th grade, she talks a lot and very loudly. Reception in the schoolyard: all students started disciplined; Viva calls; a song. The lessons: The pupils almost always speak in a choir, only rarely individual answers. They sit on two benches. (In all the other rooms we looked into, some of the students were sitting on the floor). About 45 to 50 pupils in the class.

There are transport problems in Maputo. Out of 243 buses only 60 still work. Private truck drivers charge 100 Mtc for 1 trip. (“Chapa 100”).

21.04.1986

A nightly bomb attack on Avenida Agostinho Neto injures 50 people and damages two residential buildings. The explosives were deposited in a car.

25.04.1986

The food allocations for May are published in the newspaper. Per person there is 5 kg grain, of it 2.5 kg rice, the remainder can be corn, corn flour or noodles. Add 1 kg of sugar per person. For the oil allocation there is 0.5 kg for families up to 3 persons, 4 to 6 persons receive 1 kg, 7 to 9 persons 1.5 kg and from 10 family members there is 2 kg of oil. Each family receives 4 batteries and 0.5 kg of fish per person.

28.04.1986

My colleague Cristina comes to me just before closing time. Her family is starving. Sugar is missing, bread above all, flour, … Tomorrow I will buy something at Versina.

01.05.1986

We are not allowed to take part in the May demonstration.

The President announced:

  • All improdutivos are expelled from the city. They are supposed to be engaged in agricultural production in the river valleys.
  • The assassin (bomb attack 21.04.) has been arrested and will soon be presented to the public.
  • I visited the explosion site today: Front of 3 houses quite destroyed, no more windows inside; hole in the street. On a tree hangs another curtain. Nearby are the main bus station and the bus gas station.

20.05.1986

Our people’s education group 1986 consists of 35 people.

  • 1 leader
  • 10 at MINED (Ministry of Education)
  • 8 in the INDE (National Institute for the Development of Education)
  • 9 at PI (Pedagogical Institute)
  • 7 are teachers at the Frelimo School
people’s education group 1986

30.05.1986

Yesterday, 8 pm, new action of armed counter-revolutionaries in Matola, near cinema “700”. 1 bus burned; 2 people killed.

Warning from the Soviet embassy: South Africa is apparently planning a similar military strike against Mozambique/Maputo as it has recently planned against 3 countries (ANC).

3 dead in Catembe when a car hit a mine.

11.06.1986

Rogelio and I go to the Frelimo school to observe Karin N.in class 5 (model lesson). When we hit the Avenida de 24 de Julho by car, 2 military trucks drive in front of us. The 1. (both drive step speed) is occupied with soldiers, who accompany the cars in the change in the run step. The 2nd truck contains killed soldiers who are surrounded by relatives. The train goes to the cemetery. This is behind the Frelimo school. No vehicle is allowed to overtake, oncoming traffic is stopped. Vehicles, which do not stop immediately on the opposite lane, threaten the accompanying soldiers to smash their windows with stones. We need (in 1st gear) 35 minutes to the school.

Addition 24.06.1986

Report of the Head Georg R. at the APO meeting:

Trained Mozambican teachers in primary school 52%, classes 5/6 54%, classes 7 to 9 64%, classes 10/11 78%.

Situation: In an area larger than the GDR, only 1/3 of the schools exist (border areas, Nampula, Zambêzia, Maputo, northern Sofala). Of 39 schools there are still 1, of 70 there are none or of 60 there are still 2.

In many other “normally” functioning areas the SNE (Sistema Nacional da Educa) was not introduced. Books and curricula have not arrived.

Total existence of primary schools: There were 5631 in 1980; 3378 in 1986.

In 1985 about 500,000 pupils were enrolled in Class 1. Of these, 822 (=0.2%) arrive in class 11. Most of them fall back into illiteracy.

Many teachers did not get a salary for 1 to 3 years. They continue to work.

Sitting low point was 1981. With the introduction of the SNE: Increase of the aproveitamento (school success). After that waste (materials missing; no reprints)

Positive: the SNE will be continued.

Management activities in the DOP (Departamento de organização e planificação) have improved.

The Frelimo School Maputo has remained a role model.

With the new director, the Pedagogical Institute has a better management function. This is also the case in Beira and Nampula.

Cooperation with Frelimo has improved.

12.08.1986

From a lecture of the head of the economic policy department in the club on the topic “Forms of ownership in the VR Mozambique”:

There have been deviations from socialist development in Mozambique since 1983. The country is now more open to the West, but the CMEA is also “tapped”. The debt to the GDR must be redistributed annually (GDR: 80 million dollars; SU: 1.2 billion dollars). Mozambique is forced to recognize the “Land-Berlin Clause” vis-à-vis the Western powers. 1984: Accession to the Lomé Convention. As early as 1981, the application for FMEA membership was rejected, but a mixed commission was established. In 1984 Mozambique joined the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Decisive for admission were the approval of the USA, Portugal and Italy. Today, corporations such as LONROH have increasing influence. Since 1984/85, trade and production have been “liberalised” and the private sector has been booming. The debts to the IMF, the World Bank and OPEC are decisive. They make demands: Price increases, salary issues, government reshuffle. Prices are decentralized and subsidies are abolished. Industrial production is declining. 1984: 51.3% decline compared to 1981; 1985: 23% decline compared to 1984. The IMF demands the reprivatization of unprofitable enterprises. In 1984 there were 58% state-owned enterprises, 23% were subsidized. 29.4% private enterprises (light industry). In Mocuba, the materials to be used have been stored poorly since 1981. Loans are usually exhausted faster than construction progress. Mozambique would like a new loan from Portugal and offers a participation in the company. The state sector is further reduced. There are 17 “strategic enterprises”, including Petromoc, Caju de Mozambik; Carbomoc, … The GDR had provided assistance with the nationalisation of CARBOMOC and Cimento. Many small enterprises in the timber industry and small textile factories have been reprivatised.

LONROH is active in mining, agriculture, tourism, citrus fruits, cereals and hotels.

The GDR rejects “mixed” farms because under “normal” conditions the chosen path is the right one. This is also shown by the radio production “Xirico”. It proves that Mozambique is capable of its own production according to instructions.

In reality, the GDR also has contacts to LONROH. There was a meeting with a Mozambican minister to support the private sector (e.g. the GDR wants to enter the private wood industry; this is one way to reduce the high active balance).

On agriculture, Mozambique has 1 256 000 farms, of which 306 000 are under 0.5 ha and 219 over 2500 ha. Large newly created farms have failed. In 1984, only 60% of the land used so far was used. There are 2.5 to 3 million parcels in the family sector. Example Agonia: 3 harvests would be possible; everything grows (!); but of 4 000 ha only 500 ha are still cultivated. LONROH has bought the best areas; also around Maputo. Citrus fruits! Has planted new plantations that bring profits. Contracts transport companies. So far the GDR agricultural technology has proven itself, but LONROH produces agricultural technology itself. But LONROH wants to use the good political relations to the GDR. The private sector is rapidly expanding (especially in Gaza).

19.08.1986

In the evening (18 to 21 o’clock) we visit the GDR ship “Wittenberg”. Built in 1969. 37 men crew. Went on the West Africa route. 6 800 tons. Guided tour in 2 groups. Cargo for Mozambique: weapons, ammunition, explosives.

A few days ago, a telegram came from Berlin to the embassy: in preparation for the summit of non-aligned people, attacks on GDR co-operators are to be expected (the GDR has demanded sanctions against the RAS).

27.08.1986

I wake up just after 3:00 a.m. because shots are fired nearby.

Addition from 23.08.1986

11.30 am Wedding of Dionísio at the Maputo Wedding Palace and Jardim Tunduru. 13 am Celebration. (Invitation to “Copo de água”) in the former “Centro” (teacher training centre) in the Avenida S. Touré. Participants are about 250 people. Almost only relatives of the bride (20 years old; works at INDE). The family of Dionísio (28 years old) is in Nampula; he has not seen them for 4 years, does not know if they are still alive.

Wedding of Dionísio at the Maputo Wedding Palace

31.08.1986

I have from 13.30 o’clock to 18 o’clock guard service (motor pool) on the FACIM (fair). Private fair visits are strictly forbidden. Greatly reduced exhibitions. For the first time car checks by the police take place. Army and police units on the exhibition grounds. Large crowds in the (few) pavilions.

Rogelio tells me that yesterday evening at about 9 pm there was a two-minute exchange of fire in front of the FACIM grounds.

When I got into a military check shortly before the FACIM area today (trunk, car interior), the controlling soldier told me that so far many pistols had been found in the cars.

A colleague from our department (Dutchman; subject: mathematics) returns from the brigade mission in Beira. He reports on the strong development of gang activity. 3 days without water. 15 days without electricity. The population suffers from hunger, since February there is no soap.

The abastecimento rations have not been published in the newspaper for 2 to 3 months. There are now indications only in the shops.

05.09.1986

Received 13 to 14 o’clock a routine instruction about the Xenon service by the HSB. Among other things, he explained that the window in the porter’s lodge in Xenon consists of 6 bulletproof glass panes of 6mm each. It does not let any machine gun fire through.

Karl A. tells about a hospitation in a city school of Nampulas.1. class. Topic: Introduction to reading and writing. The teacher comes in, writes about 20 “O” and 20 “A” on the blackboard and asks the pupils (68 pupils; all sitting on the floor) to write it off. Karl A. interrupts the lessons and asks: “Who has eaten anything today (it was 11.30 a.m.)? 12 pupils report. “Who has a pencil?” 14 pupils. “Who has a notebook?” Also 14 pupils. Karl A. distributes 3 packets of coloured pencils, tears out all pages from his ring binder and distributes everything. Most pupils can now write.

06.09.1986

The Jacaranda blossomed overnight. The blue colouring of the streets begins. Directly in front of my balcony to the street such a tree blooms.

Jacaranda

It’s already very warm during the day. The summer announces itself with power.

Our two guardas in the house report: 2 nights ago many shots near our house. I slept so deep that I didn’t hear it. In addition in that night from the VW beetle before our house the battery had been stolen. No traces of burglary! Did the thieves have a key?

The American in our house (he has a small airplane at the airport by the way) says that within 2 weeks the 2nd TV antenna would have been stolen from him. Also light bulbs in the house. His suggestion: A lock is attached to the lattice door at the house entrance and everyone receives a key. Except the inhabitants of the 9th floor. They run an illegal distillery and move many strangers into the house.

In the afternoon, a wide and long cloud spreads out in the bright blue sky. Detonations can be heard. The radio reports: In the ammunition depot Maputo grenades exploded among other things “due to the great heat today” and “the situation is under control” (1 year ago a part of the depot flew into the air. Back then: 10th anniversary of the VRM; 25th September).

Today’s Notícias: Yesterday another attack on the central market was prevented (I was at the market in the afternoon to buy tomatoes). A hand grenade was installed in a toilet, its trigger was connected to the flush. The explosion would have been triggered if someone had pulled on the flush. A cleaner discovered the grenade. A year ago an explosive device exploded in a Xirico radio and claimed 1 life.

02.10.1986

Written order of the ambassador: From 4 October the beach can be entered again. This only applies to the Costa do Sol area: to the left and right of the car park, but not on the beach in front of the car park, to the right until the beginning of the wood and only on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am to 4 pm.

09.10.1986

Political unrest is on the rise again. South Africa blames Mozambique for a bomb attack in Bantustan Kangwane (6 injured soldiers). In addition, the South African government decided to let the contracts of the 55,000 miners expire and send the people back to Mozambique (see Notícias of 9 October).

10.10.1986

The number of Mozambican miners is today reported in radio and the press as 61,000. South African trade unions announce strikes in the event of the expulsion of Mozambicans.

11.10.1986

The situation is becoming drastically worse. Yesterday evening it was announced on radio that a South African special force had invaded Maputo and was preparing attacks. The Mozambican defense has certain news about this.

A communiqué on the situation will be broadcast this afternoon on radio; the security and armed forces are in a state of alarm. The population is called to be vigilant.

Yesterday evening: extraordinary meeting of the embassy’s party activist. We should reduce the routes to the most necessary ones. Since the GDR sympathises with the ANC, attacks on GDR co-operators are to be expected.

20.10.1986

Drastic worsening of the situation due to the death of President Samora Machel in the crash of his plane in South Africa. We are banned from going out at nightfall.

Marcelino dos Santos reads the 1st communiqué on the radio at 8.30 a.m.. Afterwards the airplane was expected on 19.10. against 21.30 o’clock in Maputo. Only today 6.40 o’clock announced the government of South Africa the crash of the machine.

We heard the 1st communiqué in the MINED workroom. Abel A. desperately falls out of the room with his arms raised. Rogelio immediately gathers all the Cuban co-operators. Horror in the ministry and in the whole city.

Radio message from Marcelino dos Santos about the death of Samora Moises Machel

An RAS radio station announces at noon that there had been 38 deaths and 4 survivors.

In Maputo there is absolute silence in the evening and the whole night.

21.10.1986

The day begins with a call by Defence Minister Chipande to the army.

My lecture on Mozambique’s history scheduled for 7 p.m. has to be postponed indefinitely.

Fear and restlessness are noticeable in several GDR co-operators. Some swallow sedatives.

Our embassy had already called a consultation of the responsible persons in the night after a hint of the Soviet embassy.

Everyone is moved by the question: Will counterrevolution take advantage of the situation?

The cooperation partners from Holland and Portugal are sitting on packed suitcases.

Anti-Sovietism can be felt in discussions at MINED, there is distrust of the occupation of the crashed TU 134.

The silence in Maputo and in the provincial capitals is a nerve-wracking experience. Many fear events like those in Yemen.

23.10.1986

The planned adoption of the population of Samora Machel is postponed by 24 hours. The funeral of Samora Machel is scheduled for 28.10., for the other 33 dead on 29.10.1986.

The two body doctors of Machel were Cubans.

Among the survivors is a member of the personal guard, the man has only a small scratch on his forehead. One of the 10 survivors is a Soviet board engineer.

The formation of an investigative commission is announced on the radio. The flight recorder is found.

The director of the Pedagogical Institute Maputo advises the GDR teachers to “sit on packed suitcases” “in order not to get into events like in Yemen”.

24.10.1986

From today the mortal remains of Samora Machel are in the Hall of the Dead (“Câmara Ardente”) in the house at “Praça da Independência”.

Since the transport possibilities for the population are insufficient, all car owners, including foreigners, are called upon to make themselves available with their vehicles.

25.10.1986

The Notícias appears with the first report of a survivor. He heard noises like hitting shots; after the advice to fasten the seat belt, the light went out, the engines (nozzles) no longer worked. He spoke from blind flight to impact and the newspaper asks: Was South Africa sabotaging with modern technology?

For Monday the GDR delegation to the funeral ceremonies under the leadership of Werner Krolikowski is announced “with about 20 journalists”.

I will either be available as a driver on Tuesday or as an interpreter. Instruction of the ambassador: None of us may express a “private” opinion about the incidents to a delegation member.

We are forbidden (even during the day) to go out alone on the streets. Only allowed in the car. Not at all after dark.

The Mozambicans (director: Senhor Mazula) want to produce a wall newspaper (Jornal do Povo) for the staircase on the 2nd floor of our national directorate on the occasion of the death of Samora Machel. I take over the “artistic direction”. It will be an excellent performance.

Joaquim Chissano 1986

27.10.1986

2 pm meeting at the cinema “Africa” and then walk to the city executive where the coffin Samora Machels stands. The ministries and companies start in formation. From the GDR embassy comes the instruction: “Photography strictly forbidden! Dieter W. and I take the camera with us, and no one says anything when they take pictures. Dieter W. and I position ourselves near the entrance. See the different country delegations. Confusion gradually develops at the entrance. We are wedged into the crowds. Women come crying out of the house and have to be supported. Only 18.30 o’clock succeeds us the entrance. The coffin is on the 1st floor. Room kept in red. Sea of flowers. Two high-ranking officers are holding a wake. Medical staff. Photographers. Police forces. Occasionally also the GDR delegation; of course the “largest”: 9 cars, including the one with W. Krolikowski and Ambassador Matthes. Casserole also on Kaunda’s arrival. We take some photos. Later clouds come up and some wind comes up. Due to the large influx of the population, the visiting time is extended until midnight.

Farewell to Samora Machel

At the Ministry. Abel A., who I assumed would review the linguistic correctness of the “exames” for the 11th grade, written by Rogelio and myself, shows me instead a “Poem for Samora Machel” (one and a half A-4 pages) at noon (proudly shameless), which he wrote.

28.10.1986

Burial of the mortal remains of Samora Moises Machel at the “Praça dos Heróis”, Maputo.

The funeral procession began at the “Praça da Independência” (from “Conselho Executivo da Cidade de Maputo”). 1 cannon shot announces the beginning of the ceremony. Thousands of people crowd the “Praça dos Heróis”. I have a good view. Soldiers of the different weapons give Samora Machel the last escort. Armed forces secure everything. There have been no incidents since the crash of the machine on October 19. The coffin of Samora Machels lies on a mount, covered with yellow flag cloth. 12:38 p.m.: 21 cannon shots are fired behind the colossal painting.

Praça dos Heróis, Maputo

In the first half of November, the situation deteriorates once again. It was not until 18 November that we could move freely again and the ban on meetings was lifted.

On November 25th my deferred lecture on the topic “The history of Mozambique from the beginnings to 1885” will take place in the club.


Whenever our family speaks of Mozambique, feelings of homeland arise. Contacts with former colleagues have been maintained to this day.


Further articles on the topic:


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