28 June 2011

Mozambique: Lina Magaia Dies

Maputo — Prominent Mozambican writer, journalist and activist, Lina Magaia, died at her Maputo home on Monday, at the age of 71.

According to a family source, she had been suffering from "very high blood pressure". She had suffered cardio-vascular problems for the previous month and had received treatment from doctors at the Maputo Heart Institute. They proved unable to save her, and she died at about 16.00 on Monday.

Lina was a clandestine member of the liberation movement, the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO), in the closing years of Frelimo rule.

She sat as a Frelimo deputy in the country's first multi-party parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, from 1994 to 1999, but refused simply to toe the party's line. She was one of only two Frelimo deputies who, in 1998, abstained on a money-grabbing bill establishing full pensions for parliamentarians after just five years sitting in the part time Assembly.

Lina refused to vote for such naked greed. She and Fernando Teixeira, the other deputy to abstain, were vindicated when prominent economists showed that the parliamentary pension scheme was unsustainable and would be an enormous drain on the state budget. This led President Joaquim Chissano to veto the bill.

Lina was a regular contributor of columns in the Maputo daily "Noticias, in the 1970s and 80s, but she will be best remembered for her full length books, denouncing the apartheid regime's war against Mozambique.

The books "Dumba Nengue" (1987) and "Double Massacre in Mozambique" (1989) contain gruesome episodes illustrating the savage nature of the war and of the apartheid regime's surrogate force, the Renamo rebels. A third book "Delehta" (1994) set during the war, is part fiction, part documentary.

Lina's final work was "Recordacoes da Vovo Marta" ("Memories of Grandma Marta"), published this year, and based on lengthy interviews with one of Mozambique's oldest women, 99 year old Marta Mbocota Guebuza, mother of the current Mozambican President, Armando Guebuza.

Lina was planning further biographical works when she was overtaken by her final illness.

Lina was the sister of another prominent journalist and writer, Albino Magaia, who died last year.

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