Marra was a leading figure in the guerrilla army of the Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo) and was an outstanding fighter in the resistance to “Operation Gordian Knot”, the largest operation ever waged by the Portuguese army in any of its three colonial wars in Africa.
The Portuguese commander, Gen Kaulza de Arriaga had boasted that Gordian Knot, launched in July 1970, would eliminate Frelimo in six months. Instead, the Portuguese forces suffered a severe defeat, and Frelimo expanded its zones of operation southwards.
Marra was born on 26 September 1946 in Caia district, in the central province of Sofala. He died on 5 September 1973 in Muidumbe, in Cabo Delgado province in the far north, during an ambush by the Portuguese troops against his Frelimo unit.
“We have come here to recall that the smokescreen thrown up by the colonial machinery of oppression, which dimmed the horizons of the men and women of Caia, was unable to withstand the raging winds of freedom and independence which gave a noble direction to the life of Luis Joaquim Marra”, said Guebuza.
Marra had experienced colonial oppression from an early age, when he was discriminated against in access to training, and later in his employment, when he worked at the railway workshops in Beira.
“But he did not merely contemplate and lament, waiting for someone else to change the political situation”, added Guebuza. Instead, he joined Frelimo’s clandestine network inside Mozambique, and helped mobilize other Mozambicans to join the movement.
When Marra slipped out of the country and joined Frelimo in Tanzania, in 1967, he trained at Frelimo’s main rear base at Nachingwea, in southern Tanzania, learning the skills of guerrilla warfare. Later he went to study in the Soviet Union.
On his return, he was placed on the Cabo Delgado front, operating out of Frelimo’s Ngungunyane base – a guerrilla base which, according to Guebuza, was of great strategic importance for the advance of the national liberation struggle.
Marra became the Deputy Provincial Artillery Commander in Cabo Delgado, and was simultaneously commander of the second sector in the province.
“Luís Joaquim Marra, one of the pantheon of our heroes, is a name that should be invoked whenever we need to seek inspiration to continue to consolidate peace, and thus continue our struggle against poverty which is already clearly bearing fruit even here, in Caia”, declared Guebuza.
Guebuza’s programme included a visit to the house of Marra’s family and to the family cemetery, and the inauguration of a monument in his memory.
At a subsequent rally in Caia, one of the speakers was the leader of the Ecologist Party, Joao Massango, who claimed to be speaking on behalf of opposition parties. He referred to the “moments of uncertainty” arising from the recent clashes between the defence and security forces and Renamo gunmen, and urged Guebuza to persuade Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama to lay down his guns and resolve differences through dialogue.Post published in: Africa News