»Terra de Heróis:«* a landscape biography of Manjacaze (Mozambique)
[*Land/Country of heroes]
Manjacaze plays a central role in the social memory of Mozambique. It was the last capital of the Gaza-Nguni empire; the locale of the Nguni defeat against the Portuguese colonial armies; it was also a site of resistance, the birth place of Eduardo Mondlane, the national hero of the liberation struggle. But local elders present alternative narratives that focus on local royal families’ resistance to the Nguni invasion, participating in the memorialization of ancestors through their association with archaeological sites and sacred trees. My project explores how local populations, colonial and post-colonial political elites have understood Manjacaze’s landscapes. It weaves individual life-cycles and historical protagonists with long-term histories, intertwining questions of personhood, places and material artifacts, presenting a textured picture of the region. Manjacaze can be understood to have a biography and such approach is significant because it stresses the multivariate agencies and temporalities that over two hundred years co-produced these landscapes, taking »shape« in different rhythms, layers and memories. I take a multidisciplinary, integrative approach drawing upon archaeology, ethnography, history, memory and landscape studies to understand cultural and social values of places, sites, and monuments, their appropriation, representation and meaning in distinct cultural contexts.