Emilinah Namaganda is a Ugandan national and a PhD student in Human Geography and Spatial Planning at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. Her research interests centre around the implications for people and the environment of the expanding mining frontier in various parts of Africa. Her PhD research specifically pays attention to how the processes of mining-induced displacement and resettlement in Mozambique are experienced, negotiated, and contested by the affected populations. Emilinah holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in Environmental Science from Makerere University in Uganda and Wageningen University in the Netherlands, respectively.
Violent unrest or resistance to long-term marginalization? Examining the experiences of communities displaced by mega-scale mining in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique
Global ambitions for sustainability are debatably the new drivers of mega-scale mining in Africa and the related population displacement and resettlement. In Mozambique, the extraction of natural gas – famed by proponents as a ‘bridge-fuel’ to a low-carbon economy – stands to displace over 10,000 people in the northern province of Cabo Delgado. Since 2017, the Province has simultaneously been an epicentre of violent unrest, predominantly attributed to radical Islamic insurgency. In this paper, I examine the hypothesis that forced population displacement has contributed to the unrest. Displacement in Cabo Delgado can be dated back to the periods of slave trade, colonialization, post-independence civil unrest, and recently to mega-scale development projects. Drawing from empirical field research conducted in 2017 and 2020, I illustrate that repeated displacement of people in Cabo Delgado has influenced their experiences of and responses to contemporary mining-induced forced displacement and resettlement. Through the lens of Africana Critical Theory (ACT), I argue that the unrest in the Province can be understood as a form of resistance by the affected communities against repeated displacement and long-term marginalization. ACT critically analyses the common experiences of black peoples in past and contemporary conditions of slavery, (neo)colonialism, and socio-economic inequality to understand the constituent processes of domination and resistance. By historicizing the violent unrest in Cabo Delgado Province, this article presents a nuanced way of examining the implications of the resurgence of the forced displacement of communities in Africa to make way for large-scale projects.
Affiliation: Utrecht University