Mozambique: Insurgency in a Resource Rich Former Donor Darling, Part II
Salvador Forquilha (IESE – Mozambique), Paolo Israel (UWC – South Africa), Anne Bang (UiB), João Feijó (OMR – Mozambique), Antonio De Lauri (CMI) and Liv Tønnesen (CMI) in conversation with Carmeliza Rosário (CMI/UiB).
War has been destroying the previously idyllic Northern Mozambique since 2017. Mozambicans are watching with incredulity the videos flooding social media of Islamic insurgents menacingly displaying their weapons and extremist slogans. The insurgents’ ostentatious violence and the atrocious but ineffective response of the state security forces have marked the war. The death toll has surpassed 2200, and over 400.000 people have fled their homes.
The insurgents have pledged allegiance to ISIS and claim to belong to the Islamic State’s Central Africa Province (ISCAP). Most members are Mozambican, while some are from neighboring African countries. The objectives of the insurgents are still unclear. Yet with recent reports of insurgent attacks in southern Tanzania, the danger of a regionalised war has increased.
Following a brutal civil war that ended in 1992, Mozambique enjoyed peace and economic growth. In the mid-2000s, large coal reserves and the discovery of enormous gas reserves made the country a magnet for foreign investment. But things went sour. In 2008 and 2010, following rising cost of living, the country’s capital witnessed popular revolts. In 2013, the conflict with the former guerrillas in Renamo resurged and is still simmering. In 2016, a corruption scandal plunged the country into recession, with donors and the IMF withdrawing budget support. The insurgency has, for now, kept itself to the gas-rich province of Cabo Delgado.
Surprising as this insurgency is for most, the signs of deteriorating relations between the state and its citizenry are not new. Discontent once again takes its most radical and violent form: armed violence—this time with a new global ally, Islamic militant radicalism.
Is Mozambique merely yet another case of the resource curse? A failed experiment in neo-liberal donor dominance? Is the Frelimo regime – formerly a donor darling – rotting from corruption? What does the appeal of religious extremism over the traditional forms of opposition mean for governance? These seminars intend to explore these and other frameworks for understanding Mozambique’s return to war.
In this event 2-part event, Carmeliza Rosário (CMI/UiB) talks with Aslak Orre (CMI), Helge Rønning (UiO), Bjørn Enge Bertelsen (UiB), Stig Jarle Hansen (NMBU), Salvador Forquilha (IESE – Mozambique), Paolo Israel (UWC – South Africa), Anne Bang (UiB), João Feijó (OMR – Mozambique), Antonio De Lauri (CMI), Liv Tønnesen (CMI).
The event is organized in two sessions of two panels each.
Session 1, 3rd December:
Panel 1 – Aslak Orre and Helge Rønning, on Mozambique’s macro-political and economic context and donors’ role in anticipating and mitigating the conflict.
Panel 2 – Bjørn Bertelsen and Stig Hansen, on previous violence and armed conflicts in Mozambique, contemporary global warfare and Islamic insurgency dynamics.
Session 2, 8th December:
Panel 3 – Paolo Israel and Salvador Forquilha, on the insurgency’s specific dynamics in Mozambique, its local and regional links, including ethnic affiliations and cleavages, legacies of violence, and the role of the social media. Anne Bang comments on the conflict as viewed from neighboring Tanzania.
Panel 4 – Carmeliza Rosário discusses with João Feijó, Antonio De Lauri, and Liv Tønnesen the least researched dimensions of this conflict, forced displacement and humanitarianism, the terror-crime nexus, and female agency in insurgencies.
Salvador Forquilha is a Senior Researcher and Director of the Institute for Social and Economic Studies (IESE), in Maputo. He holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Bordeaux (France). His research focuses on governance, strengthening civic participation, conflict and political violence. He is currently researching the extent of youth radicalization in the Northern Provinces of Mozambique.
Paolo Israel is a senior lecturer at the University of the Wester Cape. He has carried out extensive research in northern Mozambique, focusing on the intersections between popular culture and politics. His doctoral thesis focused on the historicity of Makonde mapiko masquerades. Paolo has also worked on witch-hunts and occult rumours; storytelling and oral performance. His broader research interests include the historiography of Mozambique; African popular culture; the theory of history and the anthropology of belief.
Anne Bang is a historian and Professor at UiB. She is a researcher of Islamic history of the Western Indian Ocean in the 19thand 20thcenturies, including Yemen, Oman, Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique. Her work focuses on various forms of religious change, but also social, legal and political change.
João Feijó is a sociologist with a PhD in African Studies. He is the coordinator of the Observatório do Meio Rural (OMR) research line about poverty, inequalities and conflicts and the coordinator of OMR’s scientific council, in Mozambique. He has researched and published on identities, labour relations, migration, and conflicts.
Antonio De Lauri is a social and cultural anthropologist, currently Research Professor at CMI. He is the funding Editor-in-chief of the journal Public Anthropologist and the director of the Norwegian Center for Humanitarian Studies.
Liv Tønnesen is a research director at CMI. She is a political scientist researching women, politics and Islam in the Middle East and Northern Africa with a specialization on Sudan.
Photo credit: Marjawar on pixabay