chapter  4
35 Pages


WithBarry Munslow

This chapter explains the peculiar nature of working class formation in Mozambique in overall perspective, before focusing more specifically on the ports and railways, to produce an argument which challenges certain conventional wisdoms concerning proletarianisation and the development of class consciousness. The case of Mozambique is particularly interesting as it provides with an example of proletarianisation by proxy. Portugal was a sub-metropolitan colonial power on the periphery Mozambique of Europe, exporting raw materials and importing finished products, but maintaining, at the same time, its own periphery of empire in Africa. Portuguese private capital and the state were unable to compete for Mozambique's labour on an open market; hence a chibalo or forced labour system was employed. Mozambique had a 'transit' rather than a 'transport' system. The Portuguese government only took over the management of the port of Beira from the Mozambique Company in 1948.