14 June 2011

Mozambique: Graca Machel Calls for Inclusion of Intellectuals

Maputo — Mozambique's former Education Minister, Graca Machel, on Tuesday called for the inclusion of the country's intellectuals in designing policies and solving problems.

Graca Machel, widow of the country's first President, Samora Machel, said that, although the intellectuals constitute a capacity that has been built up over the years, today they are being marginalized.

Speaking at a round table on the life and work of Samora Machel organised by the Ministry of Science and Technology, she warned that there are no mechanisms to ensure that intellectuals "fully participate in solving the problems of the country, and much less that they influence policies and feel part of them".

"We have to reverse this situation and give an opportunity for the intellectuals to display their knowledge", she urged.

She gave Samora Machel as an example, pointed out that he deliberately surrounded himself with intellectuals, and had no complexes about doing so.

"Samora did not have many academic qualifications", she said. "His merit was to ensure that he was surrounded by highly qualified people. He had no problem about being surrounded by people who knew more than he did. He was a strategic thinker".

She stressed that it is not possible to win the battles and meet the challenges of the 21st century without putting education in first place, and that was what Samora Machel had always done.

Even in the early days of the struggle for liberation from Portuguese colonial rule, there was an awareness that education was a pillar of the country's future development. Frelimo believed "it was necessary to educate people to win the war and to build a new society to develop the country after independence".

"Samora argued that science liberates the people", Graca Machel recalled. "That's why there were always literacy programmes in the training camps. The few guerrillas who had experience of teaching drew up the foundations of a national education system that was truly Mozambican, and pilot centres were set up in Frelimo's liberated areas".

She added that development only occurs when it is based on the real conditions of the people. "Theories are adopted from others, and we forget that we are only going to transform ourselves and attain prosperity when we look at our own reality, our own social and cultural conditions".

Samora Machel could not be brought back to life, his widow said, and keeping is ideas alive would depend on the work of other Mozambicans. "Samora will not come back, and continuing what he defended all depends on us", she stressed. "Mozambique needs people who are aware of discrimination and social exclusion, and who reject these practices, reject the imposition of policies, so that we can put Mozambique on the rails".

The Mozambican state, must be a state of solidarity, a state where the poor are not thrust to one side, she insisted.

"The Mozambican elites must be aware of national solidarity", she urged. "Nobody can feel satisfied, nobody can feel they have achieved their goals, when the majority are fighting for survival".

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