Remembering Eduardo Mondlane

Eduardo Mondlane would have been astonished had he overheard the observations his former classmates--Emeritus Professor Albert McQueen (above), Rev. Edward Hawley, and Rev. John Elder and others who knew him well--made about him during the unveiling of the memorial plaque in Peters Hall on Reunion Saturday. A sampling: "The most unforgettable person I ever met." "He transformed the lives of everyone he ever met." "His life touching my life has made all the difference." "--Charismatic." "--A truly commanding presence."

Mondlane's path to Oberlin was a twisted one. He herded livestock until he was 11, eventually attending a Swiss mission primary school. A latecomer to Oberlin at age 31, he arrived "to learn the witchcraft of white men," as his mother, wife of a tribal chief, put it when urging him to get an education. His most important mentors were professors George Simpson and Milton Yinger. He loved the Conservatory concerts, and was an avid basketball and football fan. It was at a Christian camp at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, that he met the love of his life, Janet, a white woman. Despite strong opposition from her parents, they were later married.

After his degrees from Northwestern University and research at Harvard, Mondlane worked at the United Nations and taught at Syracuse University before returning to Mozambique in 1962 to found FRELIMO.

He admired the passive-resistance techniques of Ghandi and Martin Luther King, but believed that violence without hatred was the right way to fight for freedom from oppression for Mozambique.

Dr. Eduardo Chivambo Mondlane, (1920-1969)

Oberlin College Class of 1953
Founder, Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO)
Father, Mozambique Independence in 1975
Scholar, Educator, Diplomat, Freedom Fighter
"A Lut Continua"

- engraved on the bronze plaque dedicated by his friends and classmates of 1952, 1953, and 1954, and installed in Peters Hall Lobby

In 1969 the Portuguese assassinated Eduardo Mondlane by using a bomb disguised as a book. Nevertheless, he remains universally credited as the father of Mozambique's independence, achieved at last in 1975, and proudly witnessed by his wife, Janet, their daughters, Chude and Nyeletti, and a son, Eduardo, Jr.

Editor's note: A conference, "The Independence Struggle and Rebuilding of Mozambique: Honoring Eduardo Mondlane '53," is scheduled on the Oberlin campus October 2-3, 1998. Members of the Mondlane family will attend and will be presented at that time with a Book of Remembrances prepared by the Class of 1953 and others who have special connections with Mondlane and Mozambique.