Sena people

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The Sena are major people of Mozambique.

Historically the autocephalous Sena groups were situated between the two major centralised kingdoms of Monomotapa (cf. Great Zimbabwe) and of Maravi (in today's Malawi) or between the two cultures of Shona and Nyanja-Chewa. In the 16th century, Portuguese traders and missionaries arrived in the Zambezi valley (stations in Sena, Tete, Zumbo, Quelimane); during the 19th century, Portuguese descendants built even small military states involved in the ongoing slave trade. Finally during the scramble for Africa the weakened Portuguese crown leased this region to British compagnies, which built the railway connections between the Indian Ocean and their colonies, in this case the TZR, Trans-Zambezi-Railway, between Beira and Njassaland/Malawi via Sena. Once Portugal under Salazar during the 1940s had gained control over the region, then it introduced forced cotton growing and forced labor "contracts" with British colonies.

Thus Sena people, who had no opportunities to receive formal education beyond the first classes of primary school, underwent exposure to social and political organisation in the mining centres of neighbouring English speaking colonies and acquired civic awareness through domestic oppression and even massacres. Therefore Sena were very involved in passive resistance to the colonial system and in the active liberation struggle, which led to independence in 1975.

The region suffered soon again very heavily from the global East-West confrontation, from a proxy-war first of Rhodesia and then of apartheid South Africa against the Frontline States, which led finally to an internal civil war between Renamo and Frelimo.

Although Mozambique has a recent record of economic growth, this is not evenly distributed and the Sena especially claim not profiting at all from this development. This and various other forms of social polarisation and division have constituted a major challenge; the country still hasn't implemented a commission along the lines of post-apartheid South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. An ambitious reconstruction process was started in 2006, reaching slowly sensitive zones of Central and Northern Mozambique.

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