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1790s  Portuguese establish Lourenço Marques, a fort at Delagoa Bay; a town begins to develop around the settlement.


1820s-30s  Soshangane, one of the Ndwandwe-Nguni warlords who migrated northward to escape Shaka's Zulu armies during the mfecane, founds a powerful centralized state in the area of present-day southern Mozambique. The devastation and famine caused by the Nguni conquest swell the supply of slaves available for export (and depress slave prices) at Lourenço Marques. The direct authority of this Nguni state, known as the Gaza kingdom, eventually extends over all of the lands south of the Limpopo River (except for the coastal settlements at Inhambane and Lourenço Marques) and into the northern Transvaal and eastern Zimbabwe. Indirect Gaza control, through tribute-payment arrangements with local rulers, extends further north to the Zambezi River.


1836-42  Portugal abolishes slave trading.


1840s-50s  The slave-export trade from southern Mozambique declines.


1858-62  The Gaza succession war, between Soshangane's sons Mzila and Mawewe, causes widespread destruction. With support from chiefs in the Magude area, Mzila wins the war and takes over the Gaza kingdom, leading it during its period of greatest territorial expansion. This expansion coincides with increased exploitation of local communities through tribute, taxation, and enslavement. As demand for slave exports drops, domestic slavery intensifies in territory under Gaza control. Male slaves serve in the Gaza army or as agricultural producers; female slaves are distributed as war booty to Gaza officials and soldiers and put to work in agricultural production.


1860s  Men from southern Mozambique begin to travel to work on Natal sugar plantations (South Africa). After the discovery of diamonds in Kimberley in 1867, Mozambican migrants begin to seek work in the diamond mines as well.


1869  Portugal abolishes the institution of slavery in its African colonies.


1875-76  Portuguese and South African authorities reach official agreement on terms for labor migration from Mozambique to Natal and the Cape Colony.


1880s  Swiss Presbyterian missionaries stationed in the Transvaal send African converts to proselytize in the Magude area.


1884  Mzila's son Ngungunyana assumes power after his father's death. Having benefited from participation in the slave trade, the Gaza empire becomes increasingly powerful and its armies increasingly rapacious, souring relations with Khosa chiefs in Magude. Ngungunyana resists Portuguese influence in southern Mozambique through acts of violence, trade, and diplomacy with the British.


1885  Chief Magudzu Khosa dies. Magudzu is succeeded by his fifteen-year-old son Xongela, who rules under his uncle-regent Mafavaze. Tensions begin to mount between Ngungunyana and political authorities in Khoseni.


1886  Gold discoveries in the Transvaal attract rising numbers of Mozambican migrant workers to South Africa.


1887  Construction of a railway line from Lourenço Marques to the Transvaal is begun.


1889  Ngungunyana sends a contingent of his army to establish his supremacy in Khoseni. Mafavaze flees to Lourenço Marques to seek Portuguese protection. Ngungunyana puts Chongi, one of his subordinates, in charge of Xongela and all lands under Khosa rule.


1891  Britain and Portugal sign a treaty defining Mozambique's western and southern borders and recognizing that most of Gaza Nguni territory lay within Portuguese control.


1895  António Enes becomes Portuguese high commissioner in Moçambique colony; he names military defeat of Gaza kingdom as an immediate priority.
(February)  The Portuguese army wins the battle of Marracuene.
(August)  Portuguese troops defeat Gaza forces at Magul. In Magude, Ngungunyana disciplines Xongela for disloyalty.
(October)  Ngungunyana attacks Khosa communities living in eastern Magude.
(November)  The Portuguese army routs Gaza forces at the battle of Coolela. Xongela Khosa signs a treaty of vassalage with the Portuguese to secure protection from Ngungunyana's armies. The Portuguese establish a military post at Cossine (Khoseni), in present-day Magude town.
(December)  Portuguese forces led by commander Mouzinho de Albuquerque capture Ngungunyana at the old Gaza capital Chaimite; he is deported to the Azores, where he dies in 1906. Enes introduces a system of circunscrições indígenas (native circumscriptions) and divides the Lourenço Marques district into five circumscriptions, each with its own administrator, to formalize colonial rule at the local level. Cossine circumscription, enlarged with the incorporation of additional chiefdoms, is renamed Magude, after chief Magudzu Khosa.


1896  Xongela Khosa is imprisoned by the Portuguese.


1897  Maguiguana Khosa, Ngungunyana's military leader, heads a last-ditch uprising against the Portuguese. Maguiguana is captured and beheaded in Mapulanguene (Magude district) after Portuguese forces under Mouzinho de Albuquerque learn of his hiding place from a local chief. Xongela Khosa is again imprisoned. The Mozambique-Transvaal Convention formalizes a recruitment system for migrant workers in South African gold mines.


1898  Xongela Khosa dies, allegedly from alcoholism.


1899  António Enes introduces colonial labor law to ensure a supply of cheap African labor; all "natives"—male and female, ages fourteen to sixty—now have a "moral obligation" to work within the colonial economy. Forced labor (xibalo) increases throughout the colony.


1901  Portuguese and Transvaal authorities sign an agreement known as the Modus Vivendi, which is intended to be temporary, continuing the migrant-labor recruitment arrangements established by the 1897 convention. Recruitment efforts increase in southern Mozambique.


1902  Lourenço Marques becomes new capital of Moçambique colony.


1904  Khosa chief Xipissana, Xongela's sister and successor, flees to the Transvaal. Cossine is subsequently fragmented into nineteen tiny regulados.


1909  The Mozambique-Transvaal Convention formalizes the terms of the Modus Vivendi.


1913  The Union government of South Africa bans recruitment of migrant workers from north of 22 degrees south latitude, defining southern Mozambique (the Sul do Save region) as a labor reserve for the South African mines.


1926  A military coup turns Portugal into a fascist dictatorship under António Oliveira Salazar and establishes the Estado Novo (New State).


1928  Salazar introduces a new "native labor" code for Portugal's African colonies, which includes a legal distinction between (white) "citizens" and (nonwhite) "subjects." Assimilado status is made available to people of African descent who are literate in Portuguese, demonstrate European living habits, and earn a living as artisans, traders, or skilled workers; assimilados are exempt from forced labor. Another Mozambique-Transvaal Convention confirms provisions of earlier agreements regarding migrant labor.


1930-32  Portugal begins to centralize colonial administration in Mozambique, breaking up companies that owned land and controlled trade and assuming direct control of the colony, in order to maximize profits for the Estado Novo. Salazar encourages Portuguese emigration to Mozambique, particularly among poorer sectors of the population.


1930s  Rural southern Mozambique is hit by recurring drought, locusts, flooding, and famine. The colonial state revises tax laws, imposing a head tax on all African male and female residents of Lourenço Marques who are older than sixteen years of age; in 1942, this tax, known as mudende, would be extended throughout the colony.


1940s  In the aftermath of the Second World War, rural Mozambicans are subjected to much higher rates of forced labor (xibalo).


1950s-60s  Colonial economic growth attracts thousands of new Portuguese settlers to Mozambique.


1957  The Portuguese secret police (PIDE) is created.


1961  Forced labor (xibalo) is abolished.


1962  Frente de Libertação de Moçambique (Frelimo, Front for the Liberation of Mozambique) is established, under the leadership of Eduardo Mondlane. Frelimo decides to launch a military campaign to end Portuguese colonial rule.


1964  Frelimo forces attack a Portuguese base in northern Mozambique and issue a call for armed struggle to begin a war of independence. Guerrilla tactics will enable Frelimo to liberate most northern provinces from Portuguese control by 1966.


1969  Eduardo Mondlane is assassinated by a parcel bomb that PIDE sent to his Dar es Salaam office.


1970  Samora Machel is elected president of Frelimo.


1974  Weakened by colonial war efforts in Mozambique, Angola, and Guinea Bissau, the Portuguese government is toppled by a military coup, ending the era of fascist rule. The new government supports autonomy for colonies; many Portuguese settlers leave Mozambique.
(September)  Negotiations between Frelimo and the Portuguese result in the Lusaka Accord, establishing a cease-fire and an arrangement for transferring power to Frelimo without prior elections.


1975  Mozambique gains independence, with a one-party system of government implemented by the ruling party, Frelimo, under President Samora Machel. The capital city, Lourenço Marques, is renamed Maputo. Most Portuguese settlers flee the country, many of them destroying property, machinery, and infrastructure as they depart.


1976  Mozambique's support for the independence struggle in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and for the African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa leads to the formation of the Resistência Nacional Moçambicana (Renamo, Mozambique National Resistance) by the Rhodesian Security Forces and to the beginning of what would become a sixteen-year civil war in Mozambique. Renamo is supported by the white minority government of Rhodesia until 1980 and then by South Africa and the United States.


1977  Frelimo adopts Marxism-Leninism as its official doctrine and initiates economic and social revolution along Soviet lines, with financial support from the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, and Nordic countries. The United States and other NATO countries see Soviet political support as a Cold War threat. Many Frelimo doctrines and programs conflict with indigenous beliefs and traditional practices (e.g., polygyny, divination).


1980-83  With South African support for the military destabilization of the Mozambican government, Renamo forces grow rapidly and conduct increasingly brutal and devastating attacks throughout the country, targeting schools, hospitals, industry, infrastructure, and the civilian population. As the violence escalates, soldiers on both sides of the conflict loot rural villages, kidnap boys and young men for their armies, and rape and kidnap women. South Africa cuts back its use of Mozambican mine workers and Mozambican ports. Frequent droughts and flooding cause widespread famine. Mozambique turns to the West for financial aid for the first time.


1984  Under the Nkomati Accord with South Africa, Mozambique agrees to end support for the ANC in return for an end to South Africa's aid to Renamo. South Africa continues supporting Renamo, as do right-wing organizations in the United States, West Germany, and Portugal. Renamo moves its headquarters to Malawi. The Frelimo government applies to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.


1986  Mozambican president Samora Machel is killed in an airplane crash believed to be caused by the South African military. Joaquim Chissano becomes president.


1986-88  Renamo forces move into Magude district, establish base at Ngungwe, and launch brutal campaigns to destroy and empty the Magude countryside. Thousands of rural families flee the area, heading on foot to South Africa or Magude town or by vehicle to Maputo or Swaziland.


1989  Frelimo formally renounces Marxism-Leninism in favor of democratic socialism and a market economy. This decision helps to reduce popular support for Renamo.


1990  A new national constitution allows for a multiparty electoral system, changes the name of the country from People's Republic of Mozambique to Republic of Mozambique, and allows for freedom of speech and freedom to form political parties. Government begins privatizing state-owned companies.


  Frelimo president Chissano and Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakhama sign the Rome Peace Accord, establishing a cease-fire in Mozambique and granting official recognition to Renamo as a political party. As many as one million Mozambicans have died from the fighting and famine caused by the war. The United Nations is given primary responsibility to oversee the peace process; UNOMOZ (United Nations Operation in Mozambique) forces arrive in Mozambique and help to arrange elections and the return of refugees. Renamo forces continue to occupy Ngungwe (western Magude), removing the Renamo flag from their Mapulanguene headquarters only in mid-1995.


  Frelimo wins an absolute majority in Mozambique's first multiparty elections. President Chissano is reelected, defeating Renamo candidate Afonso Dhlakhama. Frelimo receives 44 percent of the vote against Renamo's 38 percent. International election observers declare the election results fair. Renamo disputes the results.


1995  Mozambique joins the British Commonwealth.
(December)  The drought that had afflicted southern Mozambique for the previous three years breaks with the onset of rains.


1996  Renamo ex-combatants still occupy Ngungwe base in western Magude district.


1998  Frelimo wins a majority in municipal and local elections; Renamo boycotts the elections, contributing to a low voter turnout (20 percent).


1999  President Chissano is reelected, again defeating Dhlakhama; Frelimo increases its parliamentary majority.


  Mozambique is devastated by a tropical cyclone and severe flooding in the south of the country, forcing tens of thousands of people to flee their homes. The World Bank estimates (2001) that 700 people are killed and 491,000 displaced. Reconstruction costs are estimated at $430 million.
(November)  More than 40 people are killed in rioting at Renamo protests against the 1999 elections. Renamo claims the elections were rigged; international observers say they were fair.


  More floods devastate the country.


2002  Drought ravages southern and central Mozambique. President Chissano announces that he will not seek a third term in office; Armando Guebuza is chosen as the Frelimo candidate for the 2004 presidential elections.


2003  Cyclones again cause extensive damage in Mozambique, compounding the food crisis.


  Armando Guebuza, general secretary of Frelimo, wins the Mozambican presidential elections, defeating Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakhama.


  Guebuza is inaugurated as president of Mozambique.


Mozambique Country Profile, Africa Review World of Information, 23 September 2003,

Departamento de História, Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, Primeiras sociedades sedentárias e impacto dos mercadores (200/300-1886), vol. 1 of História de Moçambique (Maputo: Tempo, with the authorization of Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, 1988).

Patrick Harries, "Slavery, Social Incorporation, and Surplus Extraction: The Nature of Free and Unfree Labour in South-East Africa," Journal of African History 22, no. 2 (1981): 309-30.

Malyn Newitt, A History of Mozambique (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995).

Jeanne Marie Penvenne, African Workers and Colonial Racism: Mozambican Strategies and Struggles in Lourenço Marques, 1877-1962 (Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann, 1995).


Binding Memories: Women as Makers and Tellers of History in Magude, Mozambique