Writer suffers threats and intimidation in Mozambique after book publication

Mozambican writer, Sérgio Raimundo, has been threatened because of the wording of a book title that is seen as a source of political provocation. Entitled ”As ancas camaradas chefe” (The Hips of the Chief Comrade), the book was released on July 17, and since then, Raimundo has become a target of threats.

It was through the author’s Facebook profile that it became known that he was being threatened by people who felt the book shouldn’t be released:

Translation Original Quote

Friends, we have a new host of the book: Álvaro Carmo Vaz. Professor Jorge Ferrão will no longer present the book for several reasons. Until the 17th arrives, I ask you what Evelyn Waugh asked his readers: “pray for my sinful soul.” I never imagined what I am living these days because of this book: threats and intimidation every day.

In Mozambique, the expression “comrade” is associated with the leading political party in power, Frelimo. In the context of Mozambique, this may have been understood as the book went against this party or was written to criticise the actions of the ruling party. In response to the threats, many people have defended the author and appealed for respect for freedom of expression:

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There are no reasons for intimidating a writer, regardless of the motivation; we are free to think, metaphorize, mock, criticize and say that what many consider correct is wrong. This is the writer’s function, seeing the invisible within a hermetic darkness.

André Cardoso, a rapper, also expressed his solidarity with the writer:

Translation Original Quote

On July 17, Sérgio will launch his latest book entitled The Hips of the Chief Comrade. I haven’t read it yet, but from what I know of this young writer, the comrade may have been described with very protruding hips to the point that he feels eroticized in such a way that the author asks that “we will pray for his sinful soul” until the day of launch.

I am praying dear Sérgio Raimundo – Miltar but also as I told you when we talked, I will attend the launch and buy the book. I insist that young artists and others do the same. The work must be inspiring. Blessings, bro. Until the 17th in Camões.

The Mozambican Network for the Defense of Human Rights Defenders (RMDDH) expressed its anger at what happened against Raimundo:

RMDDH condemns threats against young writer Sérgio Raimundo, author of the book “The Hips of the Chief Comrade” pic.twitter.com/wwdmpndqhr

– MozambiqueDefenders (@rmddh_moz) July 13, 2023

At the book launch that the editor of Global Voices Lusofonia attended, Raimundo said he was surprised by the threats he received, given that for him, the book has nothing alarming, comprising only reflections on the daily life of Mozambicans.

Sérgio Raimundo’s launch of ‘As ancas camaradas chefe’ at the Portuguese Cultural Center (Camões), Maputo, July 2023. Photo by Global Voices.

Images from the day of the launch show a huge presence at the Portuguese Cultural Center (Camões), in the capital, Maputo:

Sérgio Raimundo’s launch of ‘As ancas camaradas chefe’ at the Portuguese Cultural Center (Camões), Maputo, July 2023. Photo by Global Voices.

In reaction, other voices rose in defense of the author, as writes Rassul Nobre:

Translation Original Quote

I never thought that obtaining the autograph of my friend Sérgio Raimundo-Militar would be a challenge, to the point of postponing and deciding to look for him in Chamanculo (a neighbourhood in Maputo) in the coming days. The Hips of the Chief Comrade had become so

A rich book full of promises of this beautiful Mozambique. For me, a work of art. There were political figures, journalists, writers, students, academic and curious people. It was a big party, congratulations Military Poet; I want to express my solidarity here for death threats.

Raimundo also went to social media after the event to express his gratitude, as he revealed in his Facebook post:

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I thank everyone who attended the public presentation of my book “The Hips of the Chief Comrade.” It was a wonderful afternoon full of hugs, handshakes and a lot of conversation. A special thanks to Professor Álvaro Carmo Vaz, for the spine he has and for the beautiful presentation, and to CCP – Maputo, for the courage to open the doors for these “hips.”

I underline my thanks, with the red paint of my sincerity, to all who tirelessly prayed and continue to pray for my sinful soul.

The session was so good that all “hips” sold out: we no longer have any copies. At this time, friends, the second edition is already being printed for another session and distribution in several bookstores. I will give more information, soon.

After two weeks, he told the story of an episode in which he had received an invitation to talk about the book on local television, not to mention his recent literary work. The author declined the invitation:

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I heard from two great journalists, two different television stations, that they received “orders” not to talk about or disclose anything about “The Hips of the Chief Comrade.”

One of these television stations called me yesterday for an interview, but suggested me a kind of self-censorship: I would participate in a program to talk about my literary life, books, but not to mention “The Hips of the Chief Comrade.” Of course: I sent everything to the bean. [It means that he declined]

Fortunately, there are those who still make room for this book: yesterday morning, I spoke to media more, and recorded an interview at Gungu TV and today I will be in a chat with Stewart Sukuma.

But it did not stop there, since even the national radio (the first radio station in the country) had intended to boycott the broadcast of an interview with the writer, as Sérgio Raimundo wrote on his Facebook page:

Translation Original Quote

Friends, the programming team says it will disclose the conversation TODAY: management will override all previous orders. There were shares, there were comments, they received and will publicize the conversation. I received thousands of phone calls. Facebook has power … Thanks to everyone. I hope nothing will be cut from everything you said. I hope and hope. The fight goes on.

The book’s publisher has already prepared a second edition that will be released in some cities in Mozambique.

Source: Global Voices