On 25 June 1962 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, several indigenous Mozambican liberation movements united in the Frelimo (Frente de Libertaçâo de Moçambique). After a long struggle Mozambique won independence from Portugal in 1975. Under the leadership of the Marxist-Leninist Frelimo, Mozambique was subsequently transformed into a workers’ and peasant republic.
The IISH holds a fine collection of Mozambican posters from the archives of the Nederlands instituut voor Zuidelijk Afrika (Dutch Institute of Southern Africa, NIZA). Propaganda was an important weapon in the struggle for independence, to gain support inside and outside of Mozambique. From the late 1960s onwards the propaganda section of Frelimo (Departamento de Informaςão e Propaganda - DIP) used political posters as a means of propaganda. In the early years the posters sometimes were somewhat awkward (no.1), but thanks to talented artists such as José Freire, João Craveirinha, and Agostinho Milhafre, through the years they became more sophisticated. After independence political posters remained an important means of propaganda, when they were produced under the direction of the Direcςão Nacional de Propaganda e Publicidade (DNPP), but with the same poster artists as before.
The pre-1975 posters emphasized the cruelty of the colonial rulers, the goals of the struggle, and the courage and self-sacrifice of the liberation fighters. After independence the emphasis shifted to the need to rebuild and develop the country under the guidance of Frelimo and socialism. Frequent subjects were the commemoration of Independence Day (25 June), state visits of friendly heads of state, the commemoration of the death of the first Frelimo president Eduardo Mondlane and other "heroes of the liberation struggle," announcements of Frelimo congresses, as well as more practical subjects were promoted, such as campaigns against domestic violence, venereal diseases, and illiteracy, and campaigns for vaccination and the first national census.
The visual language of the posters was partly derived from the socialist propaganda art of the Soviet Union, Cuba, China, and North Korea, including the use of symbols like red flags, the hammer and hoe (a variation on the hammer and sickle), red stars and clenched fists, and the use of socialist stereotypes such as sturdy workers, soldiers, nurses, students, and peasants marching onwards united for a happy future. But also the influence of Western political and commercial poster art could be detected in the use of photomontage, modern offset techniques, and the trendy design idiom of the sixties and seventies (no. 8). The posters were mostly designed by Mozambican artists, but sometimes foreign ones as well (North Korean artists, for example): the results are immediately recognizable for their rigid and blank stereotypical composition (no. 10).
Click here for:
- More posters from the catalogue of the IISH
- Anti-Apartheid and Southern Africa Collection Guide
- Berit Sahlström - Political posters in Ethiopia and Mozambique. Visual imagery in a revolutionary context. Uppsala 1990 (IISH Call nr. 1993/352 fol)
- Berit Sahlström, António Sopa - Catálogo dos Cartazes de Moςambique –Catalogue of Mozambican Posters. República Popular de Moςambique, 1988 (IISH Call nr. 2011/3893)
Posters from Mozambique
1. In the occupied zone: oppression, in the liberated zone: freedom
(Tanzania, Maputo, Mozambique, ca 1972) IISH call nr: BG D41/590
2. Commemoration day of Eduardo Mondlane’s death
(Tanzania, Frelimo, 1973) IISH call nr: BG D17/472
3. Friendly visit by Fidel Castro
(Mozambique, DNPP, 1977) IISH call nr: BG D41/577
4. First National Agricultural Congress
(Mozambique,1975) IISH call nr: BG D17/480
5. Rovuma - Maputo, February 3, 1975
Design José Freire (Mozambique, 1975) IISH call nr: BG D17/482
6. We have to plan production to better our lives on the way to socialism!
(Mozambique, 1978) IISH call nr: BG E35/301
7. Third Congress of Frelimo
Design José Freire (Mozambique, 1977) IISH call nr: BG H2/868
8. Commemoration of the Mozambican Revolution, 1973
Design Agostinho Milhafre (Tanzania, Frelimo, 1973) IISH call nr: BG D17/463
9. Commemoration of five years of independence
Design João Craveirinha (Mozambique, 1980) IISH call nr: BG E35/308
10. Defend the fatherland/Conquer underdevelopment/Build up Socialism/Fourth Frelimo Party Congress
(Mozambique, 1983) IISH call nr: BG E24/140
11. Day of Mozambique Independence, June 25, 1975
Design José Freire, DNPP (Mozambique, 1975) IISH call nr: BG E9/737
12. April 25,1974
Design Ricardo Rangel (photo) and José Freire, Grupo dos Democratas de mocambique (Mozambique, 1974) IISH call nr: BG E9/723
13. First National Census
Ministério da Informação, Moçambique, DNPP (Mozambique,1980) IISH call nr: BG E9/733
14. Commemoration foundation of the SNASP, October 11, 1981
Serviço Nacional de Segunça Popular (Mozambique, 1981) IISH call nr: BG E35/311
15. Day of the struggle against AIDS
(Mozambique, 2006) IISH call nr: BG D81/179