After 1950 citizens in Mozambique began to yearn for Independence and formed organizations outside the country, including MANU based in Tanzania, UDENAMO based in Bulawayo and UNAMI based in Malawi. MANU supporters staged a peaceful demonstration in Mueda which saw almost 600 killed. This incident did not bring them any closer to negotiating with the Portuguese. President’s Nyerere and Nkrumah then advised the different groups to form a coalition under the banner of FRELIMO (MANU, UDENAMO and UNAMI). They elected Eduardo Mondlane as President and Reverend Uria Simango as Vice President.
On September 25, 1964 FRELIMO launched an armed struggle despite being riddled by infighting, tribalism and ideological problems. This guerrilla type warfare spearheaded by Algerian trained fighters. Their most successful endeavor was undertaken in Cabo Delgado because the area had been sympathetic to MANU and the greatly affected by the Mueda massacre. By 1967 about 1 million Mozambicans were living in FRELIMO controlled regions. The withdrawal of Portuguese officials from these regions often created a power vacuum that was quickly filled by wealthy locals.
FRELIMO introduced some new ideas to help manage the FRELIMO newly liberated regions including; teaching local citizens about rights, FRELIMO would merge with local military and political structures, establish basic literacy and primary healthcare for locals and to organize production on a collective basis. As news spread about FRELIMO’s ideas and success more regions began supporting their initiative. However, infighting and disagreements led to the defection of Nkavandane who formed his own Makonde based party and the assassination of Mondlane and defection of Simango to COREMO.
In 1966 Samora Machel was elected head of FRELIMO’s army. FRELIMO began promoting more socialist principles by advocating a non-racial, non-sexist socialist struggle against all exploitation. They believed in freedom and liberty for all MOzambicans regardless of tribe, race, color or religion. In May 1970, Machel was elected President and Dos Santos Vice President. Soon after the colonial governemnt launched a major offensive in FRELIMO territory. Villagers were placed in protected villagers known as ‘aldeamentos’. The limited concessions offered by the colonial government were never implemented which making the villagers more sympathetic to FRELIMO.
During this period the colonial government used propaganda to lure black Mozambicans to cooperate with the police and spy agency. However, by 1973, FRELIMO had gained traction with a clearer ideology unity and support from USSR, Eastern Europe and China. While the colonial government solicited help from Portugal, South Africa, Rhodesia, Europe and the USA. At one point Portugal solicited and received some help from NATO under the guise of squashing ‘communism’. However, publications about the Wiriyamu Massacre in which 400 villagers were killed which was published in ‘The Times’ forced many western countries to begin withdrawing their support.
On April 25, 1974, the Armed Forces Movement (MFA) staged a coup in Portugal which led to the appointment of General Spinola who promised to stop all colonial wars but actually intensified their assault which increased the resolve of FRELIMO. Mozambique gained their independence on June 25, 1975. This was a result of the September 7, 1974 ceasefire agreement signed by Machel and Soares which called for a ceasefire, a FRELIMO dominated transitional government and full independence.
Between September 1974 and June 1975 there was an exodus of whites and African collaborators. More than 200,000 whites fled from Mozambique and many left a trail of destruction. Since the financial crisis in 2008 many Portuguese continue to return to Mozambique in search of opportunities.