‘A LUTA CONTINUA’ (in English: the struggle continues) was the rallying cry of Africans fighting against Portuguese colonial rule in Mozambique. It originated during the armed struggle led by Dr. Eduardo Chivambo Mondlane, first president of the FRELIMO Liberation Front in the war for independence, who said, “We fight together, and together we rebuild and we recreate our country, producing a new reality – a New Mozambique, United and Freed. The struggle continues!” Following Mondlane’s assassination in 1969, Africans continued to rally around this slogan under the successive leadership of Samora Machel who went on to become the first president of an independent Mozambique in 1975. A luta continua is the unofficial national motto of Mozambique where the colonial language of Portuguese remains official.
A Luta Continua is the title of a song popularized by South African singer and activist, Zenzile Miriam Makeba – who is fondly referred to as Mama Africa. The song was written for Makeba by her daughter Bongi – from Sibongile (meaning “we are grateful”) – after she attended Mozambique’s 1975 independence ceremony.
By the late 1950s Makeba had achieved musical fame in South Africa, and her appearance in the 1959 documentary film Come Back, Africa attracted the interest of Harry Belafonte and others in America. Her singing and recording career reached new levels of success in the United States, where she introduced Xhosa and Zulu songs to Western audiences. Makeba’s activism included support of Kenya’s independence from British colonial rule, whereafter she and Belafonte became VIP performers at the Independence Day celebrations at the invitation of President Jomo Kenyatta.
Makeba was the only performer at the meeting in Addis Ababa that led to the formation of the Organization for African Unity. She also testified before the United Nations Special Committee against Apartheid, asking for economic sanctions and an arms embargo against South Africa’s National Party government. This activity, along with the increasingly political content of her music caused the apartheid government in South Africa to revoke Makeba’s passport and ban her music, whereafter she lived in exile for 3 decades. In 1964 she married trumpeter Hugh Masekela, a fellow South African in exile and protégé of Harry Belafonte. Masekela wrote the protest song Makeba performed entitled Soweto Blues about the 1976 uprising in Soweto.
The 1960s saw Makeba’s involvement with Civil Rights, anti-apartheid, Black Consciousness, and Black Power movements grow. She married Black nationalist Stokely Carmichael [Kwame Toure] in 1968 (divorced 1979) who relocated with her to Guinea in West Africa. Encouraged by Nelson Mandela who had just been released from his 27-year imprisonment by South Africa’s apartheid regime, Mama Africa returned and performed in her home country for the first time since her exile in 1991.
Known fondly as “Aunty Dorothy,” Dorothy Masuka is often credited with composing one of Miriam Makeba’s most well-renowned songs entitled Pata Pata. The two songstresses were contemporaries, Masuka being born in neighboring Zimbabwe [then Rhodesia] in 1935, about three years later than Makeba, before emigrating to South Africa at the age of 12. Masuka spoke of the spiritual sources of her musical inspiration that often came in dreams from an early age, one of whom was her maternal grandmother, a sangoma [a respected traditional healer]. From the start of her career, Masuka endeared herself to a wide audience but the political content of her compositions such as Lumumba (of Congo) and Dr. Malan (an anti-apartheid song) led to her exile following the apartheid government’s ban over her recordings. Masuka continued to campaign through song for African liberation during her exile in Malawi and Tanzania, inspiring many including Makeba. Her work entitled Mzilikazi paid tribute to one of Emperor Shaka Zulu‘s greatest warriors who founded the Ndebele people of Zimbabwe and South Africa.
❤ Mamas, Aunties & Sista-Queens who hold up half the sky… Thank You… Sibongile ❤