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Part of the book series: Palgrave Studies in the History of Social Movements ((PSHSM))

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Abstract

Mapiko are traditional masquerades performed in and around the Mueda plateau, in northern Mozambique. This chapter explores the intersecting trajectories of mapiko masquerades and the Mozambican revolution through an experiment in non-linear narrative. Following archival traces, especially filmic and sonic, it lingers on moments of disjuncture between the revolutionary imperative of transformation of cultural practices and the invention and performance of masks. Aesthetics affords a vista into the affective dynamics of the revolution, which are apprehended in their multiple and contradictory layers. This is especially evident in songs linked to mapiko, in which the themes of love and revolution are entwined. While masks could be taken as effigies of a revolutionary people, they also resist allegorisation by way of their ambiguity.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Paolo Israel, In Step with the Times: Mapiko Masquerades of Mozambique (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2014).

  2. 2.

    The argument is most cogently formulated in Giovanni Levi, “On Microhistory,” in New Perspectives on Historical Writing, ed. P. Burke (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2001), 97–119. Jacques Revel and Paul Ricoeur insist on the movement between scales (rendered through a play metaphor as jeux d’échelles) as the operation that allows such indeterminacy, see respectively Jacques Revel, Jeux d’Echelles: La Micro-analyse à l’Expérience (Paris: Le Seuil, 1996) and Paul Ricœur, Memory, History, Forgetting (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2005).

  3. 3.

    Carlo Ginzburg, “Clues: Roots of an Evidential Paradigm”, in Clues, Myth and the Historical Method (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989), 96–125.

  4. 4.

    Carlo Ginzburg, “Micro-history: Two or Three Things I Know About It”, Critical Inquiry, 20, no. 1 (1993), 28. In a personal communication, Ginzburg highlighted the unconscious influence of montage in his own micro-historical writing.

  5. 5.

    Perry Anderson, “The Force of the Anomaly”, London Review of Books, 34, 8 (2012): 3–13.

  6. 6.

    The oral sources quoted extensively in In Step with the Times are not referenced here unless specifically mentioned, yet they obviously inform this narrative.

  7. 7.

    I draw especially from Michael Lowy, Fire Alarm: Reading Walter Benjamin’s On the Concept of History (London: Verso, 2005) and Stephane Mosès, L’ange de histoire: Rosenzweig, Benjamin, Scholem (Paris: Le Seuil, 1992).

  8. 8.

    Calls for a revivification of scholarly prose outside of the deadening grasp of the “non-text”—which Michael Taussig calls “agribusiness writing”—have emerged recently from various quarters. See especially Ivan Jablonka, L’Histoire est une littérature contemporaine (Paris: Seuil, 2014); Michael Taussig, The Corn Wolf (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2015); and the five issues of the journal Rethinking History on “History as Creative Nonfiction”, 14, 1 (2010), 15,1 (2011), 16,1 (2012), 17,1 (2013), 18,1 (2014).

  9. 9.

    Alain Badiou, “Notes on the uses of the word ‘people’”, in What is a People ed. A. Badiou et al. (New York: Columbia University Press, 2016), 30. I owe this reference to Raquel Schefer, “Cinema Revolucionário Moçambicano: O Visível, o Invisível e o Translúcido”, A Cuarta Parede, #36, retrieved in http://www.acuartaparede.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Artigo-Cinema-Revolucionário-Moçambicano-Pt.pdf Consulted on 8 September 2020.

  10. 10.

    Footage of this performance is available at: https://vimeo.com/183283021

  11. 11.

    João Cabrita, Mozambique’s Tortuous Road to Democracy (New York: Palgrave, 2000), 100–102.

  12. 12.

    See the fourteenth and fifteenth theses of Benjamin’s “On the Concept of History”, which recur to the image of the “tiger leap” to describe the re-appropriation of the past in the revolutionary moment, in Walter Benjamin, Illuminations (New York: Schocken, 2007), 261–262. Reinhard Koselleck provides a more analytical discussion in Futures Past: On the Semantics of Historic Time (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004).

  13. 13.

    Susan Buck Morss describes this problem as a tension between the time of avant-garde and the one of the vanguard party, Dreamworld and Catastrophe: The Passing of Mass Utopia in East and West (Boston: MIT press, 2002), 42–70.

  14. 14.

    Colin Darch and David Hedges, “‘Inscrevendo a nação’? A Viagem Triunfal no fim do períodode transição em Moçambique, maio a junho de 1975,” in Lutas pela memória em África, eds Joaquim Alves Furtado and Livio Sansone (Salvador de Bahia: EDUFBA, 2020), 395–436.

  15. 15.

    The term used was comprometidos (“The compromised”). See especially Victor Igreja, “Frelimo’s Political Ruling Through Violence and Memory in Postcolonial Mozambique”, Journal of Southern African Studies, 36, 4 (2010): 539–556 and Maria Paula Meneses, “Hidden Processes of Reconciliation in Mozambique: The Entangled Histories of Truth-seeking Commissions Held between 1975 and 1982,” Africa Development, 41, 4 (2016): 153–80.

  16. 16.

    For a memorial account of these activities, see Carlos Siliya, Ensaio sobre a cultura em Moçambique (Promedia: Maputo, 1996).

  17. 17.

    O Mundo em Imagems: Kuxa Khanema (Bayreuth and Maputo, IWALEWA and INAC, 2013).

  18. 18.

    Frelimo, Programa do Primeiro Festival de Dança Popular (Maputo: GPFDP, 1978).

  19. 19.

    “E’ no Processo da Luta que Forjamos a Nossa Ideologia” Voz da Revolução, 61 (1978), 8, and “Resolução sobre a Cultura”, ibid, 26.

  20. 20.

    This reconstruction draws both from a 2008 conversation with Mbanguia and his own account, given in 1978, to Sol de Carvalho, “O Grupo Cultural Mapico Moderno,” Tempo, 397, (1978): 30–32. In the latter, Mbanguia omits his origins, perhaps not to diminish the authenticity of his performance, and glosses over his activities during colonialism.

  21. 21.

    Frelimo, Programa do Primeiro Festival de Dança Popular (Maputo: GPFDP, 1978), 28.

  22. 22.

    The brigade produced a famous four-volume ethnography, see especially Jorge and Margot Dias, Os Macondes de Moçambique, Vol. III: Vita Social e Ritual (Lisbon: JIU, 1970).

  23. 23.

    The ice-breaker was journalist Licinio de Azevedo, whose extended interviewing resulted in an unsurpassed literary portrait of bush guerrilla, Licinio de Azevedo, Relatos do Povo Armado (Maputo: Cadernos Tempo, 1983). From 1978 onwards, more methodologically conscious historical brigades from the Centre for African Studies made in-depth inquiries into colonial cotton production, political organisation, and resistance to the socialist project of communal villages, see Yussuf Adam, “Mueda, 1917–1990: Resistência, Colonialismo, Libertação e Desenvolvimento”, Arquivo: Boletim do Arquivo Histórico de Moçambique, 14 (1983): 1–103.

  24. 24.

    The economism and anti-anthropological stance of scholars at the Centre for African Studies foreclosed the consideration of performance as worthy object of historical inquiry. Turf wars with Leroy Vail and Landeg White, who in the same years developed their pioneering historical approach to African song in Central Mozambique, might have played a role as well.

  25. 25.

    Anna Fresu and Mendes de Oliveira, Pesquisas para um Teatro Popular em Moçambique (Maputo: Cadernos Tempo, 1982).

  26. 26.

    Ibid, p. 38.

  27. 27.

    Frelimo’s attitude to the rural masses was ambivalent. The cities were considered as the hub of moral corruption; the peasantry, the class with the highest revolutionary potential, yet also to be reformed of its traditionalism.

  28. 28.

    Dias and Dias, Os Macondes III, 211.

  29. 29.

    Fresu and Oliveira, Pesquisas para um Teatro Popular, 40.

  30. 30.

    Ibid, 38.

  31. 31.

    Ibid., 36. The description of these dance-styles is quite important because it reflects a fresh memory.

  32. 32.

    Ibid., 38.

  33. 33.

    Ibid., 40.

  34. 34.

    Information on Nampyopyo draws from oral history, see Israel In Step with the Times, 79–98. See also Alexander Bortolot, “Realism as Rebellion: Nampyopyo Kulumbanungu and the Mimetic Turn in Makonde Mask Sculpture and Performance, circa 1950,” Kantor Arts Center Journal, 7 (2001), 131–141.

  35. 35.

    Jorge Dias, “Mudança de Cultura entre os Macondes de Moçambique,” Universitas 6/7 (1970), 264.

  36. 36.

    Estevão Mpalume dates the arrival of German planters in Cabo Delgado to 1918, Vyaka Vyoe Vyamauvilo mu Moshambiki (Pemba: NAEMCD, 1990), 39.

  37. 37.

    Fritz Kramer extends this mimetic drive—which would be inherently apolitical—to all depiction of otherness in African art, see The Red Fez (London: Verso, 1993). The claim is bold, but deflated by one too many counter-examples.

  38. 38.

    Ulanda is the Shimakonde word that describes inborn talent, whereas udagwa signifies lack of talent and overall inability to lead a good social life. Categories of aesthetics and morality largely overlap in the language.

  39. 39.

    O Mundo em Imagens: Filmes do Arquivo do Instituto Nacional de Audiovisual e Cinema (Bayreuth and Maputo, IWALEWA and INAC, 2012)

  40. 40.

    For an analysis of mashindano in comparative perspective, see Fred Gunderson and Gregory Barz (eds), Mashindano! Competitive Music Performance in East Africa (Dar Es Salaam, Mkuki Na Nyota, 2005).

  41. 41.

    Between 2002 and 2009, I have recorded several hundred mapiko songs composed in the post-1975 period. Therefore, my analysis draws from this larger corpus.

  42. 42.

    This song would later be twisted into an anthem to Mondlane and history that loses the poetic precision of the original version, see In Step with the Times, 155.

  43. 43.

    I recorded the same version of this song, as sung by the Omba group, in Mueda, on 16 June 2003.

  44. 44.

    Collective interview, Namau, with Paolo Israel and Atanásio Nyusi, Namau, June 2015.

  45. 45.

    On the massacre, see Paolo Israel, “The Mueda Massacre Retold: The Matter of Return in Portuguese Colonial Intelligence, 1959–1960,” Journal of Southern African Studies, 46, 5 (2020) : 1009–1036.

  46. 46.

    Kubik recordings, Phonogrammarchiv, Vienna, 1962.

  47. 47.

    See Pedro Nacuo, Para Além do Orizonte: Enigmas à volta do Comandante Nantova (Rio de Janeiro: Dunya, 2012). Cosme was the elder paternal uncle of Mozambique’s current president, Filipe Nyusi, son of Jacinto.

  48. 48.

    For an example of such testimony, see Israel, In Step, 162.

  49. 49.

    Lennart Malmer and Ingela Romare, I Vart Land Börjar Kulorna Blomma (Sveriges Radio AB, 1973). I thank Catarina Simão for showing to me this rare film.

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Israel, P. (2021). Mapiko: Fragments of Revolutionary Time. In: Arunima, G., Hayes, P., Lalu, P. (eds) Love and Revolution in the Twentieth-Century Colonial and Postcolonial World. Palgrave Studies in the History of Social Movements. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-79580-1_4

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