FISH Seminar – Friday 17 July – “The resistance might be joyful”: a study of Zambezia’s political identity through Carnival and Elections in Quelimane district

FISH mélina

“The resistance might be joyful”

a study of Zambezia’s political identity through Carnival and Elections in Quelimane district


 Mélina Revuelta

(Sciences Po Bordeaux)


On the basis of identity as a socially and historically constructed narrative, the fabrication of a Mozambican identity to suit Frelimo’s leitmotiv “one people, one nation, one culture” has denied the historical past of regions that had fashioned an identity of their own, as in the case of Zambezia. Early Portuguese colonization and substantive miscegenation led to the formation of a society that was once very wealthy and whose political behaviour earned Zambezia the reputation as a “rebel province”. Its capital, Quelimane, elected a mayor from the opposition in 2011 and 2013 – the second city to accomplish such a feat in the 40-year history of “Frelimocracy”. The city is also known as “little Brazil” and many argue this is because Quelimane holds the “best and the biggest” Carnival in Mozambique. To a province that became the poorest in the country, affording this festivity is not without sacrifice, but such a pride lies in the very soul of Zambezianity. Our research suggests that the victory of the opposition should not be translated as a vote against Frelimo, but rather as the political expression of this regional identity. Thus, we propose to assess the persistence and/or renovation of this local narrative through the analysis of Quelimane’s electoral behaviour and the study of its Carnival as a political object that strengthens and conveys this regional identity.


Melina Revuelta is a Master’s student in Politics and Development in the Global South at the University of Sciences Po in Bordeaux. Originally from Brazil, she has a Bachelor’s degree in Law and a MSc in International Humanitarian Law. She has studied Mozambique’s democracy for the past five years. In parallel, she has 10 years of experience working as a freelance conference interpreter and translator in Portuguese, English and French


Friday 17 July 2015, 10:00

Conference Room, 62 Juta Street, 1st floor, Braamfontein, Johannesburg



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