Africa/Global: Remembering Valeriano Ferrão and Charles Sherrod
October 25, 2022 (2022-10-25)
(Reposted from sources cited below)
Valeriano Ferrão died in Maputo, Mozambique, on October 2, 2022, at the age of 83. Charles Sherrod died in Albany, Georgia, on October 11, 2022, at the age of 85. As far as I know, the two had never met. And they were very different people. But for me, they epitomize the shared values of solidarity and integrity that were central to the movements they represented.
Updated with additional links on November 11, 2022
Valeriano Ferrão preparing fish for cooking at the FRELIMO school in Bagamoyo, Tanzania.
Children watching are children of staff members. Thanks to Jan Draisma for this photograph.
Charles Sherrod persuading people to register to vote in southwest Georgia. Persuasion was not easy given that African Americans trying to vote were likely to suffer violence and economic retaliation.
I first met Ferrão in 1974, when both he and I were teachers at the secondary school of FRELIMO (the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique) in Bagamoyo, Tanzania. I came to know him better as a friend and comrade when he lived in Washington, DC, from 1982 to 1991 as independent Mozambique´s first ambassador to the United States.
Songs were central to the community built by FRELIMO in the years of the liberation war leading to Mozambique's independence in 1975. In his memoir, Ferrão recalls how he was admonished by Samora Machel because he had not yet learned to lead the students at Bagamoyo in singing a song. I don't have digital versions of our school singing the sands that we sang, but they included this one in Chinyanja that was also a favorite of Kenneth Kaunda. The lyrics mean "Let's go together with one heart," referring to the struggle for liberation in Southern Africa.
I knew Sherrod only briefly, during the summer of 1965, when I was among a small group of Union Theological Seminary students he had recruited as volunteers to support the voter registration campaign of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in southwest Georgia. As the first staff member for SNCC, Sherrod focused his lifelong commitment to social justice on Albany, Georgia, and the surrounding region.
This video of Sherrod singing the gospel song "One More Time" at the 50th anniversary of SNCC in April 2010 evokes the SNCC community that I was privileged to join at that time. That community has been reinforced over the years through personal meetings and, more recently, through digital media such as the SNCC digital gateway.
Additional Background on Ambassador Valeriano Ferrão
Media reports after his death had only limited background on Ferrão. So it took me some time to complete additional background to make available to AfricaFocus readers.
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