Aquino de Bragança, 1924-1986

Aquino de Bragança, 1924-1986



«Tinha consciência perfeita da importância da informação».
Paulo Jorge, quoted by Sílvia Bragança in her book Aquino de Bragança.



Aquino de Bragança was an important intellectual and political figure in the years leading up to and immediately following Mozambican independence. As a journalist, an academic and a public intellectual he engaged passionately with the issues of his time, and as a confidante of President Samora Machel and a frequent envoy of the Mozambican government, he translated his convictions into action, eventually losing his life alongside Samora in the service of the liberation of southern Africa.

He was born Tomaz Aquino Messias de Bragança in 1924 in Bardez in northern Goa in India. At that time Goa, Damão and Diu made up the Portuguese-controlled Estado da Índia, but in December 1961 the independent Indian government occupied the three enclaves by force and expelled the Portuguese. Aquino‘s father was João Paulo Proença Bragança and his mother Ana Carlota Praxetes Antónia do Rosário Sousa. He left Goa as a young man and stayed briefly in Mozambique, where he was shocked by the racism that he found there. In 1948, at the age of 20, he left for Portugal and then France, where he studied physics in Grenoble and in Paris. It was at this time, apparently, that he became a Marxist. Convinced that Goan independence was achievable, he soon made contact with nationalists from other Portuguese colonies. In 1957 he moved to Morocco to teach science, and when the PAIGC and the MPLA set up the CONCP in 1961 in Rabat to coordinate the struggle, Aquino represented the Goan People’s Party in the new organisation. He soon became an indispensable member of the CONCP secretariat.

He was an active journalist, writing for such publications as the progressive Afrique-Asie [Paris] and Révolution Africaine [Algiers].

When the MFA overthrew the Caetano regime in Portugal on 25 April 1974, as Aquino relates in the article “Independência sem descolonização: a transferência do poder em Moçambique, 1974-1975” [see below], he was the person that Frelimo turned to, sending him to Lisbon to evaluate the volatile situation.

After Mozambican independence, Aquino was appointed Director of the Centro de Estudos Africanos at the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane in 1976, and in 1978 was joined by the South African activist Ruth First, who became Director of Research. In late 1978 and early 1979, Ruth and Aquino set about recruiting a group of committed radical scholars from Mozambique, South Africa, and Western Europe, and forming them into a research collective that focussed on current issues of social and political transformation.

After Ruth’s murder by the South African regime in August 1982, Aquino began to reorganise the CEA into several «núcleos de investigação» – the Núcleo de África Austral, the Núcleo de Documentação, and so on.

Aquino de Bragança was a trusted confidante of Samora Machel, and undertook numerous delicate diplomatic missions on behalf of the Frelimo government. Allegedly he was nicknamed “the submarine” in party and government circles because of his ability to keep an exceedingly low profile. He was killed on board the Tupolev Tu-134 with Samora Machel when it crashed at Mbuzini on 19 October 1986, in circumstances that have yet to be fully clarified.

His best-known publication for English-speaking readers is probablyThe African liberation reader (London: Zed Press, 1982; 3 volumes), edited with Immanuel Wallerstein and originally published in Lisbon in Portuguese under the more interesting title Quem é o inimigo?.

In 2009 his widow, the artist Sílvia Bragança published Aquino de Bragança: batalhas ganhas, sonhos a continuar [Maputo: Ndjira, 2009; 482 pages] in his memory. The book consists of memoirs, interviews, photographs and facsimiles about Aquino‘s rich and complex life. In March 2011, the publishing house Goa 1556 announced plans to publish in April an English version of the book under the title Battles waged, lasting dreams.    

SOURCE: http://www.mozambiquehistory.net/aquino.html

FOOTNOTE: A correction in the date of birth has been made above. It should be 1924 (not 1928).

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