Former Mozambique president encourages interest in Africa

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Former Mozambique President Joaquim Chissano said he wanted to inspire GW students to take an interest in Africa during an address at the Elliott School of International Affairs on Wednesday afternoon.

The African leader said he was overwhelmed with joy and pride to see such a large crowd gather to hear him speak.

“I see the George Washington University as truly a temple of knowledge,” said Chissano, who served as president of the East African nation from 1986 to 2005.

Born in a remote village in Africa, he quickly developed a conviction for politics and joined FRELIMO, the Mozambique independence movement. His political aspirations eventually led to his position as president of the People’s Republic of Mozambique.

Chissano said one of his key accomplishments as president was his successful negotiations with the rebel movement and the end of a bloody 16-year civil war. He was widely considered by many people in his country to be a peacemaker, which was a constant theme throughout his speech.

The African leader talked about the tough realities that a war-torn society faces and the importance of peace building. He emphasized how a country’s leaders and its people must work hand in hand as one.

“(O)ur experience shows that peace must come from within and not from outside,” Chissano said.

He also gave advice to students who are interested in becoming political leaders.

“I think one of the things they should do is to learn a bit more about the cultures of different countries,” Chissano said. “One has to really know how to approach them, how to entertain them sometimes.”

Junior Imran Mahmud said he was glad to hear about Chissano’s successes in leading his country.

Mahmud said, “I think the most important thing about him coming to speak at GW is that it definitely shows some of the positives coming out of Africa at this moment.”

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