The Nordic Africa Institute

Notes in reply - Mpho Monare

Mpho (exile name Sipho) Monare's story about SOMAFCO: “Reflections of a Liberation Struggle Child!”

"I have retraced my life many a time before, since coming back to South Africa trying to carve a niche for myself, amidst all the challenges that also many others like me are facing!

My father, George Monare, was forced to go into political exile in 1962, long before I was born after having been very active in the Trade Union movement and the ANC as a dedicated organiser. He escaped into neighbouring Swaziland leaving my mother behind who followed him a year later, with all my brothers and sisters. In the mid 1980’s the pressure of the South African Defence Forces into neighbouring “frontline states”, particularly Swaziland, became unbearable, so many ‘exile parents’ sent their children to SOMAFCO. This was also influenced by the Nkomati Accord of 1982 between South Africa, Mozambique and Swaziland.

I was a student in SOMAFCO between 1984 and 1989.

As much as there were many things that one desired and missed, being at SOMAFCO and receiving the holistic education that I did, was the highlight of my life! The ‘life influence’ that I find we received there set us to perceive ourselves as part of the human race family in the sense that we were very informed about the world around us, whose shaping we were a part of!

Alongside all the education, cultural activities were an integral part of the Mazimbu community, which built up in us a good foundation as to who we were and where we came from. This also built such pride in us, as those around us learned of and appreciated our culture and the activities thereof. For many of us who literally grew up in the Mazimbu/SOMAFCO community, the Nordic countries played no small role in assuring our holistic development and the furtherance of the objectives of our Movement. With Nordic solidarity, we were able to realise the ideals of our present democracy in its very embryonic stages. We were able to live in comfort, receive quality ‘free education’, be developed as leaders and participate with people around us.

In recent times, since return from exile, adjusting to South Africa so as to fit in socially and culturally has been a mammoth challenge. Many friends and comrades who have had the same predicament, as me, have had to make do with living on the social peripheries of the communities in which they are resident! By many this has been erroneously interpreted as a “better than thou attitude”borne by former exiles!

The formative socio-cultural input I had whilst at SOMAFCO has given me a strong basis for assimilating into this society we have struggled to free."

Mpho Morare