Written by Boaventura Mandlate
Translated by Francisco Chuquela
Inês Macamo Raimundo, a graduate of Eduardo Mondlane University and also teaching at foreign universities, shares with Primeira Mão a little of her professional and private life.
Inês Macamo Raimundo is twin with a boy born in Xai-Xai, the provincial capital of Gaza, where she made elementary and secondary education. The desirable emigration to the great capital takes place in 1979, to make the Propaedeutic of Letters, that at that time worked at Eduardo Mondlane University.
In 1982, she completed her Bachelor’s Degree in History and Geography Teaching for the grades Ten and Eleven, and in 1983 she joined the group that founded the Primeiro de Maio School of Nampula, whose vocation was to prepare students for the university.
In 1986 she sees her maiden name being added Raimundo, by virtue of marriage with a colleague of the Propaedeutic, in the teachers training and also at Primeiro de Maio School.
Inês Raimundo remembers with nostalgia that she didn’t go to the teaching course by her own will much less (?) by vocation. The dream of childhood was to study medicine or economics. It was at other times, when young people had no choice; they were guided by the needs of the “revolution.”
She early “escaped” medicine following hospital admission due to illness. In a conversation with the attending physician, Inês confessed her childhood dream of attending Medicine. This confession gave to the then child Inês a march within the infirmaries, by initiative of the doctor.
“In the pediatric ward I went to see people with bandaged arms and legs, I said no, I don’t want this and I decided that I don’t want the possibility to follow Medicine all my life!” The entrance door to the Letters was opened, culminating with the History and Geography teaching course.
Although this wasn’t the dream course, Inês Macamo Raimundo says that decades later she doesn’t regret and over the years she had the possibility to change course, but she remained firm and discovered that after all the “imposed” specialty was her vocation.
Prior to this discovery there were two determining factors for not being sympathetic to teacher specialization. First, because the course requires permanent contact like chalk, which (chalk powder) didn’t help to her asthmatic state. On the other hand, the teaching course doesn’t (?) have prestige in the society and in some cases it is even speculated that only the worst students are reoriented to teaching, while the best go to the courses of choice.
Were six long years of teaching in Nampula, always hoping that one day she would be called to do what she liked: to continue studying. “It never happened, it had to be forced. The promise was that one spent two years in Nampula, then came back to continue studies.”
In 1988 appeared the first opportunity, with the opening of the Higher Pedagogical Institute (ISP), present Pedagogical University. “This opportunity arose to me, but the conditions that they offered were not favorable”.
“The idea was for me to come to Maputo alone to do the degree and once I finished I would return to Nampula to exchange with my husband. I said this didn’t make sense. I questioned what punishment this is, since I have already concluded the course. So they said it woud continue in 1989. Said and done in 1989 I was allowed to come to Maputo. Once in Maputo they said again that my husband could no longer come. My husband ended up leaving Nampula without authorization, and we were together at the ISP. I was there only two months because I got pregnant.”
The opening of the degree course in Geography at Eduardo Mondlane University opens up new horizons for Inês Macamo Raimundo, who exchanges the ISP for UEM. “Once again I have an unpleasant surprise, the then Minister of Education denied my request, saying that I had to do the degree at the ISP. I cried so much, I talked to my father.”
Who was the Minister?
“I don’t know if it’s convenient to say, I’d rather not say, you can investigate who was the Minister of Education in 1990.”
And after talking to your father…
“My father said: my daughter, I’m going to Maputo, I’ll help you to solve it. I told my father to be quiet, that I would have to deal with this on my own. He simply advised me to appeal. I didn’t know that a decision of a Minister was a subject to appeal. We did the exhibition with the help of a brother-in-law and in fact the Minister authorized me to study at UEM.”
Inês Macamo Raimundo proudly remembers that at the time the degree lasted five years and was able to finish on a regular basis and was immediately hired to teach at UEM, with three possibilities of employment. One of the posts would allow a much higher salary than the UEM offer. “My choice was that I still had a dream realize.”
What “millionaire” position was this?
“It was to produce books at Editora Escolar. They even paid a percentage in USD, etc. that was very good, we’re talking about the 1990s, but I said no! “
And the other possibility…
“It was to work in the Ministry of Environment, because in 1994 I participated in the first days of environmental research in Mozambique and I was the national winner. When the Ministry of Environment was created, here I can say who the Minister was, Minister Ferraz (Bernardo) ordered: they will bring the one who won the conference on environmental research, to work in this Ministry. I went there, but once again I saw that it is not what I want, I prefer to continue at UEM.
Inês Raimundo reawakens her memory and says that she started working at UEM as a trainee assistant and had as a primary objective to pursue her studies, but once again she seems to be part of her cina, five years were gone before she could be allowed to continue studying master’s degree)!
“When you have feeling nothing is going to stop you, and in 2000 I got a scholarship in South Africa and went on to do my Masters in Human Geography at the Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg. Two years later I participated in a Kellogg Foundation scholarship contest. I went to face a panel of nine people, who were asking questions, but I managed to answer… (laughs). I got a PhD scholarship in 2004. A year later, I found that my supervisor didn’t read my papers. I had to write to her to remind her that it was the teacher who called me (she was the same supervisor of the master’s degree), and it was she who got me and said: Inês, come on, go sign up for the PhD, I’m here and you no longer read my works! When she received and read that email, she just said: Inês, we are brave. I saw right away that this is indeed very badly stopped! The university had to appoint me a new supervisor and when that happens it has to start from zero. It was indeed a lost year!”
Maybe it was an evil that came as well. Inês got an extraordinary supervisor, she told the Primeira Mão. The new supervisor read everything the student sent, and not only. He took Inês to two conferences where they went to present two works together.
“That’s good, that’s how a teacher has to do, in a way that has stimulated me a lot, from there I started to do my work and to submit everywhere and have always been approved.”
In 2008 Professor Inês Macamo Raimundo finishes the PhD and submits the thesis. The rules determine that three months later the student already has the results. Only it was not that time that the damn disgrace would stop chasing after Inês. Eight months passed. Exaggerated excess, foreshadowing something worse that was yet to come.
“Inês, it is not known where your thesis is!” That’s what the supervisor said in response to the student’s complaint. “Finally there was the thesis, of course it was another year lost, but in December 2009 I get the result, etc. and in 2010 I graduated”.
Through her course, which isn’t always pink, Professor Inês Macamo Raimundo used to tell her students “we should never give up, because what happened to me in the life was more than enough to discourage anyone.”
Debt to parents
“What is certain is, and I always learned from my parents, little by little I always liked that we always have to accept challenges and the first thing is to respect the authorities. If I didn’t respect the authorities I would have made a big mess, but I always respected the authorities, I kept what they said I had to do and I’m doing my life. At this moment I feel like I’m almost done with the following: in my house my brothers always play with me: when are you going to vacation in Mozambique (laughs), because one of the things I like to do is to do research and I’ve always done all for my work to be published. I remember that the first time I went to the United States of America I was still doing my masters degree. I have been looking for a conference linked to my area of study, which is migration, and I went to catch a conference on migration to the Pacific countries, which doesn’t even bathe the African continent, much less Mozambique. I didn’t give up, I submitted my work and they liked it immensely. Since that time I no longer need to compete, I’m invited to present anything in the United States of America, Canada, I’ve already been to Mexico, Jamaica. Brazil is practically my country of choice, because I will not only present papers at conferences, but they also invite me to teach. In 2016 I went to teach Master’s degrees in France, a lecture for Doctorate”.
Professor Inês seeks to publish everything she produces, and in 2017 three papers were published, one published in Portugal, the other in Canada. With research in the area of migrations, Inês is not limited to this area alone. She always seeks to establish links between migration and food security, HIV, gender, climate change, “and in fact my PhD has been about forced migration, everything that has to do with refugee issues, internally displaced people, whether for political reasons, either because of environmental or climatic issues, the case of floods, etc.”.
Professor Inês Macamo Raimundo is a happy person to have her publications in some countries like Russia, South Africa, Senegal. “In Mozambique I also have some works, but most of my work has been published outside Portugal, England, the Netherlands, the United States, Canada and Brazil.”
One of the things that Professor Inês likes to do is to teach, from the first year of her degree. “I like to work with these boys who are still coming in, they are still confused, they don’t know if it is that course they chose or not, they still think that the teacher is something that is there and they are on the side of here, I like to work with these students. Of course I also teach higher levels, I guide doctoral works”.
Professor Inês has just been part of a doctoral jury from a student in Belgium. At present, she has nine PhD students and two Masters students, of different nationalities, especially those whose research aims to know something about Mozambique.
“Curiously, I also have students who have nothing to do with me, but when they want to come to Mozambique they are recommended to work with me.”
From the list of students who drank from Inês Macamo Raimundo the Professor recalls those who occupied government posts, like Alberto Vaquina, former Prime Minister, Nazira Abdula, current Minister of Health, Jorge Muanahumo, the late Engineer Aquiamungo. There are many others who have not been in governance stand out as technicians, such as Taju, who was Regional Director of Coca-Cola for Southern Africa, based in Harare, Zimbabwe.
Have you only spoken of some of your students who have excelled in terms of government positions, among students didn’t even have one? I know that when we speak of students we are navigating to the middle level, above that they are students…
“I also had many, most of whom are now my colleagues in teaching. With political positions or cases of governance I don’t know them, but there is also that principle that is: when we say I am doing Geography, I want to be a geographer, everyone says is to know how to call rivers. Until when those children who know the capitals appear, everyone says this child dominates Geography, but geography is not that. On the other hand, we, the geographers, rarely appear in public places. It is easier for me to say that I am trained in forced migration than to say that I am a geographer, because when I say that I am formed in forced migrations everyone already has a refugee focus, than to say that I am a geographer. Or to say that I am an environmentalist, they will accept me. As a geographer, in the minds of people it looms that it is to teach capitals, states, territories rivers, animals and so on. One never thinks of a geographer as one who can contribute, for example, to territorial planning, because people deal with a concrete space that is the territory and we have elements of how to use better that territory. I think that is why I have not produced public figures that have geography training, but I say that many are my colleagues, this is already very good.”
How do you see your country Mozambique?
“I don’t see this in an isolated way, so I see it in the global context. The current situation, because of what Karl Marx said, which was already foreseen, that capital was going to dominate and dominate in the form of what competition is, we now live in a world of competition and in competition everything is good, everything serves. Mozambique within the African continent is what we are living today, there are many difficulties. When one thinks that we are already embarking on a mechanism, which, for example, will alleviate or reduce poverty in the country, will soon create a problem that will lead to new needs. What was a priority is no longer a priority. But that’s the way it is, just as I am part of that generation that has produced and continues to work for this country, I also believe that young people will do that as well. It is true that they are at a different time from the one I come from. We were closed, we depended only on what the printed newspaper and the radio said. Today our young people already have many facilities to know what is happening in another part of the world. There is a teacher of mine who said that it is a generation that wants everything ready and has to be now. But this is a process. I often say that if God himself is God took six days, it is not because he could not do things in a fraction of a second. It’s because he wanted to teach man, that things have to be done in a phased way, it’s not all at once.”
But do you believe in this country?
“If I didn’t believe in this country I probably wouldn’t live here, because I have had possibilities, at least twice, because of my area of training, going to work and live outside of Mozambique. Coincidentally, both possibilities were to live in Angola, to work on migration issues in Angola, Lesotho and Vietnam, but for me the conditions were not favorable, because I asked, and my family? They said no, you go alone. I said that doesn’t work! But it was not only because of my family, above all because I believe that I still have the conditions to contribute in my country, it is not escaping that I will help the country, every place has its challenges and the worst thing is to live as a foreigner” .
Who invited you?
“It’s the International Organization for Migration.”
It seems to me that you have a complex professional agenda with many academic trips around the world, there should be no time for a married Inês, she has two children to educate… (laughs)…
“The fact that I married a colleague helped to minimize it, and it has helped me a lot. Without believing to be a tribalist, I married a person from Tete (salvation), if I had married a “changane” (fellow countryman) I would have … (chuckles) … the “changanes” are known to be male, etc. (laughs)… with him you can reconcile everything. We left the same year to go to study, he to France and I to South Africa, very close, because my children were smaller and I went with them, and so we live. When it comes time for me to travel he stays with the children, he has no problem, he supports me a lot and more, the works that I write, because I write in Portuguese, he corrects me. I learned from Saramago, who said that the one who corrected his work was Pilar, his wife. If even Saramago, Nobel Prize for Literature, who am I to consider myself someone who writes? So everything I write in Portuguese I give to my husband, he is very good at correcting. Sometimes we get angry, but he insists that… (laughter)… in Portuguese this is not said, so we support ourselves, especially since we have been doing co-publications.”
Professor Inês Macamo Raimundo emphasizes that life is made up of many challenges and doesn’t advise situations of comfort. “I will quote the American pastor, Bobby Schuller, who said that the winner isn’t the one who sits on the bench, eating hotdogs watching others run, the winner is the one who participates, even if he is in the last position. We are winners not because we necessarily reach the first place, but because we don’t give up. I often tell my students that many of you say that you can’t succeed because you aren’t the children of former combatants, or because you aren’t the children of ministers. One thing has absolutely nothing to do with another, this may help, but it isn’t decisive. I am here, but no family member was in the war, but today I am known in many countries, in many universities, because I never gave up, and this I learned a lot also from my mother, who advised me to follow the example of the palm tree that sweeps the periphery to the detriment of its surroundings. My work began to be known outside the country and only from the outside did they come here because I didn’t have the courage to publish here because people didn’t see the content of my work, but they saw the person.”
As an effective member of the Eduardo Mondlane University, Professor Inês Macamo Raimundo also teaches by invitation at universities such as São Paulo and Grande Dourado (Brazil), Bordeaux (France), Lisbon and Coimbra (Portugal), internally at the Pedagogical University, Academy of Police Sciences.
And do you have time for laser?
“It depends on what laser means, for me my laser is lying in bed reading a book, this is what I like to do, or watching television, I like to watch soap operas, I go to prayers (Celebration Church) I’m going to mass. What I don’t do, fortunately I don’t drink alcohol, I don’t smoke cigarettes, I don’t spend any nights out, because otherwise I wouldn’t be able to do anything!”
And can you comply with the rules of the three 8 – 8 hours for work, 8 hours for rest and 8 hours for laser (total 24 hours a day)?
“… Laughing … Yes, I can, for rest, the eight consecutive hours no, but gradually yes, for example in the afternoon when I’m at university I stay in my office for five or 10 minutes to rest, that gives me energy. As for the laser, if I’m not doing housework – I like to wash dishes, I love it so much, I don’t want to know about the machine, I wash it manually – (daughter of maxangana, Dra … laughs …) – that’s it, no matter how much utensils, I have no problem doing that.”
“… lol … but I like chicken.” (x)