Photo: Mozambican rapper Azagaia. Credit: Africa News 2023 - Photo: 2023

Large Crowds Grieve Death of Mozambican Protest Rapper

A Stricken Nation Recovers from a Deadly Cyclone

By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network

NEW YORK, 21 March 2023 (IDN) — Chanting “Resistance!” and “Power to the people!”, thousands of Mozambicans bid farewell to popular protest rapper Azagaia, who died suddenly last week at the age of 38.

Planned memorial marches that were expected to fill the streets of the capital, Maputo, with rallies in other cities, were met by a heavy police presence, preventing the procession from taking place.

“They didn’t allow people to gather,” said Zenaida Machado, a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch in Mozambique, “even though the rally had been authorized by city authorities. Without any sign of violence from the protesters, they started throwing tear gas, and rubber bullets.”

Social media footage showed anti-riot police with armored vehicles and dogs firing tear gas as they dispersed small groups of demonstrators.

“We came here to say thank you to rapper Azagaia for everything he has done for this country. Why are they attacking us?” activist Fatima Mimbire was quoted by the AFP news service to say. “It was a peaceful march.”

At least two people were injured after a tear gas grenade landed inside a house, said Quiteria Guirrengane, a rights activist who was among the organizers of the demonstration. 

Demonstrators were said to be trying to carry Azagaia’s coffin past Ponta Vermelha, the president’s official residence.

“Azagaia was a hero of the people,” said a demonstrator who chose to remain anonymous. “He was more of a hero than the president, that is why we are taking him to the president’s house.”

Mass demonstrations critical of President Filipe Nyusi’s government are said to be rare in this coastal nation to the east of Zimbabwe, and wedged between Malawi, Tanzania, Swaziland and South Africa.

Nyusi is the current head of the Frelimo political party which has led the country since it defeated Portuguese colonialists in 1975. Born as a Marxist-Leninist party led by Samora Machel, Frelimo nationalized land and rebuilt the country with the participation of women and led the country until now.

Elsewhere in Mozambique, relief is being sought for thousands battered by a destructive cyclone that hit the nation twice in a row, taking the lives of hundreds in Madagascar, Malawi and Mozambique when it first made landfall in February. Hundreds of thousands have been displaced and cases of cholera now number nearly 10,000, say UNICEF and other health officials.

At its peak on February 21, Freddy had wind gusts of up to 270 km/h, making it a category 5 storm, the highest category on the Saffir-Simpson scale used to measure cyclone intensity. The following day, Freddy was upgraded further to a “very intense tropical cyclone”, which is science-speak for “off the chart”.

Freddy was named tropical cyclone for 39 consecutive days and travelled more than 8,000 kilometers across the entire South Indian Ocean.

Research indicates cyclones may be moving more slowly and also roaming farther from the equator. The amount of rain any one cyclone can hold will also likely increase in a warming atmosphere. [IDN-InDepthNews]

Photo: Mozambican rapper Azagaia. Credit: Africa News 2023

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