Watching Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi and Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame together in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado region last week, you could see there was chemistry between them. And with reason; their countries’ histories have a lot in common. Mozambique’s haul out of colonial bondage was led by Mozambique Liberation Front (Frente de Liberação Moçambique – Frelimo) that was formed in a neighbouring country. Think of your own Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), conceived by some in a neighbouring country and immediately embraced enthusiastically by all Rwandans in exile and some in the country. Only, while Frelimo was formed in 1962, the persecuted of Rwanda were in their third year of being butchered or banished, their houses torched and their livestock put to the machete. Unlike in Mozambique, this was engineered by a divisive post-independence regime which, however, was also reading from the script of its colonial master and acting with his support. The colonialist was not the front-view face of the divisionism but he was its driver. Meanwhile, a small section of Rwandans were mounting efforts to forcefully regain their citizen-rights though it all came to nought. If only this group had known there was an equally victimized group across the border, even if from down south, and that they shared chemistry and could join forces to liberate their countries. Sadly, an adept leader who quickly joins the dots and gets that flash of vision is a once-in-a-century occurrence. He’d not get the chance to unfurl and be seen till 1990, some thirty ‘exiled years’ after. Come to think of it, the liberation of Cabo Delgado, what a way to celebrate October 1! But before that, imagine a small band of Frelimo guerrillas put together from refugees and some who sneaked out of the country. Even if, unlike its counterpart of Rwanda many years later, they benefitted from some support from communist and western European countries, organised by the later-to-be assassinated Eduardo Mondlane (1969). Whatever support, visualise the handful of guerrillas in the northern nooks of Mozambique, ranged against some 70,000 troops of the Portuguese colonial force. The pragmatic military approach of Samora Machel who took over as Frelimo commander (1970) may have done a lot to bolster the force’s struggle but hadn’t it been for a left-wing military coup in Portugal in 1974, who knows if the guerrillas would have freed their country to hoist their independence flag in 1975? Launched 15 years after Mozambique’s independence, the RPF/A struggle received no single support and, unfortunately, no events in the then-Rwandan government or any of its Western allies conspired to provide it with similar vital support to smoothen its torturous journey. If anything, the then-government was emboldened to perpetrate the Genocide against the Tutsi. In Mozambique, they may not have reached these ugly depths but, still, they had their own unenviable share of ugliness. Especially that, like here, armed liberation wasn’t the end of the agony. They had their reactionaries in the form of Renamo insurgents to deal with. And what with a powerful Apartheid South Africa as neighbour supporting Renamo, Frelimo had a hard time keeping it at bay. Our own génocidaires and their supporter groups and countries come to mind, eh? Well, in Mozambique, it was thus that Frelimo lost pragmatic Samora Machel (1986) in a plane accident, reportedly courtesy of Apartheid regime’s tricks. Joaquim Chissano, now-head of Frelimo who subsequently won elections in which a ‘now-seen-sense’ Renamo participated, was gladly there many years after 1994. With ANC chair Nelson Mandela now freed and later at the helm of a democratic South Africa and, later again, RPF chair Paul Kagame as president of a liberated Rwanda, seeing the two with Joaquim Chissano was a magical moment that one wanted to live with for the rest of their lives. You could see men with immense chemistry among them. And it augured well for Africa because they were men of a mind. A mind to pull other African leaders together so as to work for the total emancipation of Africa; a robust, self-sustaining and respected continent. So, the chemistry between Filipe Nyusi and Paul Kagame demonstrates that, for their similar history, their two countries are joined at the navel. When Mozambique, perhaps with its too-frequent changes of leaders, shows weakness in handling a relatively small insurgency, Rwanda gladly jumps at the chance to give a hand. Which in no way means that Rwanda will stop there, as she has already demonstrated with the Central African Republic. Rwanda’s belief is that all African countries are Siamese twins and any leader embracing narrow self-interests is a curse to the continent. Such a leader should be cast aside for Africa to move on. Paul Kagame’s consuming conviction that he pronounced in Cabo Delgado, “Africans are capable and by working together, we can find solutions to even our most difficult problems”, is the expression of Rwanda’s effort to demonstrate the veracity of the quote. A stable, progressive and all-round-healthy Africa working with other continents as equal partners will be the mother of an enduringly strong and true world community. Happy Patriotism Day!