Published in Peace Newsletter, November-December 2012 PNL #819, Syracuse Peace Council
The following are only extracts of the article:
Eduardo Mondlane was born and raised in 1920 in Nwajahani, district of Mandlakazi in the province of Gaza, in Mozambique. Through the help of Swiss Presbyterian missionaries, working under harsh circumstances, and with his mother’s encouragement and support, he attended schooling in Mozambique, South Africa, Portugal, and the United States. His multi-country education afforded him first-hand experience with the injustice perpetrated by the respective regimes against black people, in particular; on the other hand, this experience along with his interactions with politically conscious individuals in the aforementioned counties contributed to Mondlane’s embarking on a quest to liberate Mozambique from Portuguese colonialism through the founding of Mozambique’s Liberation Front (FRELIMO) in 1962 and the beginning of the liberation struggle in 1964.
A university can serve as a birthplace of ideas that feed its surrounding community by nurturing the flames of activism or by transferring knowledge that breeds apathy towards the status quo. Today, it is very fashionable in academia to claim militancy for social justice. Yet, claiming social justice does not imply living a social justice lifestyle and, consequently, impacting our community with such lifestyle. We are comfortable talking about social justice and liberation, to some extent and within comfortable philosophical settings, yet we are not bold enough to confront ourselves about how our humane core has been tempered with misconceptions of the essence of justice and, therefore, of liberation. The link between Mondlane, Syracuse University, and the Syracuse community ought to remind us that reclaiming our humane core as educators and citizens is critical in our pursuit of justice.
My intention in this article is not to downplay the work of the university and civil society to foster justice in Syracuse, but to reiterate the significance of the connection between Syracuse and a larger spectrum of the struggle for justice that results from Mondlane’s sharing of his life with this community and the community’s sharing of its life with this child of the human race who sacrificed his life for the liberation of the oppressed in a continent that continues to be a victim of neo-imperial expeditions. The success of such a unique connection can only be sustained through continuous efforts by the university, in partnership with the city’s leadership, to engage the overall Syracuse community in teachings about this citizen of the world that constitute an unfathomable gift to the community. Perhaps, unlike most small cities, Syracuse has the advantage of being one with ties to this globally impactful figure. Ultimately, I am inspired by the fact that we are a community blessed with Mondlane as a model of activism, the fact that he was flesh and blood, and the fact that he was an individual subjected to the same human limitations as we are.