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Fauvet, Paul, and Marcelo Mosse. Carlos Cardoso: Telling the Truth in Mozambique.

Fauvet, Paul, and Marcelo Mosse. Carlos Cardoso: Telling the Truth in Mozambique. Cape Town: Double Storey Books, 2003. 356 pp.

The murder of journalist Carlos Cardoso on 22 November 2000 in Maputo shook Mozambique to the core, for here was a highly respected man of creativity, impeccable integrity, and a passion for truth. Cardoso was, in a sense, larger than life. Carlos Cardoso: Telling the Truth in Mozambique is both a tribute to the man by two friends and fellow journalists, and also a history of the times from independence in 1975 to the war with Renamo in the new Mozambique, where the dreams of a just and good society have been sullied beyond recognition.

Cardoso felt that journalists were actors in the history of the country, not merely propogandists, not merely unquestioning servants of the government. Paul Fauvet, who worked for AIM (The Mozambique News Agency) in the 1980s with Carlos Cardoso, and Marcello Mosse, who worked with Cardoso on Mediafax and Metical, two papers of the 1990s distributed by fax machine, paint a detailed portrait of the man and his times. Primary sources for the authors are the many articles Cardoso wrote, interviews, remembered conversations and about twenty published documents and books. Fauvet and Mosse seek in this book to tell the truth in Mozambique, recognizing that in telling the truth, Carlos Cardoso paid with his life. Part I, which takes us up to 1989 when Cardoso resigned from AIM, is written by Fauvet. Part II, which covers the 1990s, is co-written by Fauvet and Mosse.

The photo of Cardoso on the cover tells us a good deal. The intense, alive eyes, the intelligence and openness of the face, the forefinger of the left hand pointing as Cardoso is making a point--here we see for ourselves this dynamic and enthusiastic man. Cardoso is described as "impulsive," "impatient," "unorthodox," "professional," "extremely active," "demanding" as an editor. "Cardoso never did anything by halves," we are told. And just as he had admirable friends, he made enemies--because he was nobody's lackey.

Cardoso was fluent in English. He attended Witwatersrand University in South Africa in the early 1970s. He is remembered today by classmates, for anonymity was not part of his persona. An activist against apartheid, Cardoso, the student, was arrested and deported. He returned to Mozambique, became a journalist, and when his passion for truth irritated Frelimo leaders, he was arrested. "Me? Arrested in Mozambique?" is a chapter heading in Part I. An ardent admirer of Samo raMachel, Cardoso nevertheless always rejected government attempts to control or influence the press. He was particularly concerned in the 1980s that there were no embedded reporters covering the war with Renamo.

With the death of Machel in a mysterious airplane crash (the authors provide evidence of South African involvement in the event) in October 1986, Mozambique changed. And with the end of the war and the subsequent end of the one party state, FreJimo itself changed. Faced with pressure from the IMF and the World Bank, Mozambique became just another African country living through season after season of anomy. Corruption thrived. From the university to the military, from car theft rackets to massive bank fraud, from loan sharks to shake downs, waves of corruption polluted the land. All of this is told, of course, in Mia Couto's novels. Fauvet and Mosse tell the unsavory truth because to quote Cardoso, "in the business of truth; it is forbidden to put words in handcuffs."

The murder of Cardoso, who unmasked a bank fraud involving 14 million dollars (small change compared to Nigerian theft!), provoked investigations. It turns out that the name of President Chissano's son, Nyimpine, came up time and again. Fauvet and Mosse, however, do not go so far as to ask certain essential questions: is it possible that the President of Mozambique was completely ignorant of his son's involvement in corruption and perhaps in the murder of a journalist? And are we to believe that a culture of kleptocracy exists and the leader of the country is ignorant of what is going on? We know from Abacha to Mobutu, from Moi to the MPLA leadership that in Africa there has developed in modern times a tradition of robbing the national treasury while publicly proclaiming slogans of national pride and national virtue.

We learn a lot about Carlos Cardoso the man in this book. He was the highest kind of patriot, wanting his country to be worthy of its best ideals. He was a poet; he was a painter; he even was involved in Maputo politics, being elected on an independent ticket to the city's Municipal Assembly. He suffered periodically from fits of depression. He was a chain smoker until he got pneumonia in 1992--and then he quit smoking. He was a fan of international soccer. He lived with the Norwegian Nina Berg for years and had two children with her.

Fauvet and Mosse present a detailed account of the struggles within Mozambique of a press wishing to serve the people and a government seeking to control information. The struggle between the press and government exists in all countries and Cardoso is just one outstanding journalist who gave his life so that his society could know the truth. Telling the truth in Mozambique and elsewhere is dangerous business, even though at Cardoso's funeral President Chissano spoke in praise of the man who "raised pertinent questions that demand the attention of all of us. Carlos Cardoso: Telling the Truth in Mozambique is thus a necessary book. It is to be hoped that it will be translated into Portuguese for readers in Mozambique.

Don Burness

Rirtdge, New Hampshire, USA
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Author:Burness, Don
Publication:Portuguese Studies Review
Date:Jan 1, 2004
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