Marcelino dos Santos

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Marcelino dos Santos in 1975

Marcelino dos Santos (born 20 May 1929[1] in Lumbo) is a Mozambican poet, revolutionary, and politician. As a young man he travelled to Portugal, and France for an education. He was a founding member of the Frente de Libertação de Moçambique (FRELIMO—Mozambican Liberation Front), in 1962, and served as the party's deputy president from 1969 to 1977. He was Minister of Economic Development in the late 1970s, Frelimo Political Bureau member in charge of the economy in the early 1980s, Chairman of the country's parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, from 1987 to 1994, and, as of 1999, remains a member of the Frelimo Central Committee.

He represents the left wing of the party, remaining an avowed Marxist-Leninist, despite the party's embrace of capitalism in recent decades—an embrace which dos Santos declares is temporary.[2] He says that the "retreat" to capitalism was necessary in order to receive Western help in dealing with the RENAMO incursion and Civil War.

Marcelino dos Santos is the son of Firmindo dos Santos and Teresa Sabino dos Santos. He was raised in Lourenço Marques, Portuguese Mozambique (now Maputo, Mozambique). His father was politically active: a member of the African Association of Mozambique. Marcelino left Mozambique in 1947 to continue his education at the Industrial Institute in Lisbon - the Instituto Industrial de Lisboa. At the Casa dos Estudantes do Imperio (House for Students of the Empire) he rubbed shoulders with others destined to become leaders of the independence movement in the Portuguese colonies—such as Amílcar Cabral (Guinea-Bissau), Agostinho Neto (Angola), and Eduardo Mondlane (Mozambique). By 1950, with Neto arrested and Mondlane departed for the United States, dos Santos had relocated along with several others to Paris. There he lived with writers and artists associated with the literary magazine Présence Africaine.

He was instrumental in the formation of the Anti-Colonial Movement (MAC) in Paris in 1957. He joined the Paris branch of the Uniao Democratica Nacional de Mocambique (UDENAMO), one of the nationalist groups that would later merge to form FRELIMO. He was involved in the founding of the Conference of Nationalist Organizations of the Portuguese Colonies (CONCP) at Casablanca in April 1961, elected permanent secretary in charge of coordinating nationalist activity. He was skilled at communicating the aims of the CONCP to an international audience. After the founding of FRELIMO in 1962, in which dos Santos was also involved, he increasingly devoted his energies to that organisation. By 1964 he was FRELIMO's secretary for external affairs, invaluable to the party for his communication skills which he employed, for example, in his addresses before the Organization of African Unity, the Afro-Asian Solidarity Conference, and the United Nations. After Mondlane's assassination, dos Santos was elected to the three-person Presidency council, with Uria Simango and Samora Machel, which guided the party through the subsequent difficult period. In 1970, when Machel assumed the sole presidency, dos Santos became vice-president.

Under the pseudonyms Kalungano and Lilinho Micaia, he published his early poems in O Brado Africano, and his work appeared in two anthologies produced by the Casa dos Estudantes do Imperio in Lisbon. Under the pen-name Lilinho Micaia, a collection of his poetry was published in the Soviet Union. Under his real name, he had a book published by the Associação dos Escritores Moçambicanos (Mozambican Writers' Association) in 1987, entitled Canto do Amor Natural.