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Godmothers of War - Mozambique

Amilton Neves | Maputo, Mozambique, Mozambique

Marta is wearing a wedding dress surrounded by the clothing of her grandson. Like many Madrinhas de Guerra she met her Portuguese husband through the letter writing
campaign of the National Women’s Movement. She eventually married her penpal, with whom she had children. Unfortunately, before the end of the Independence War her husband was killed in the fighting leaving her behind to raise her children alone. Marta now runs a local store selling candies, cigarettes and other small items.

“Godmothers of War” is a project telling the story of the Mozambican women who took part in the National Women’s Movement from 1961-1974. These women were sponsored by the Portuguese government to provide moral support to the soldiers fighting on the frontlines of during the Mozambican War of Independence. Many of these women were rewarded with influential positions in society and the upper classes and some were even given houses by the Portuguese government.

In 1974, when the war of independence ended with a ceasefire agreement between the Mozambican FRELIMO forces and the Portuguese government, the National Women’s Movement officially ended. However, these women were ostracized from society for their role in supporting the colonial forces. The Madrinhas de Guerra project reflects on this very important – but often forgotten – piece of history in Mozambique by visiting the homes of the Madrinhas de Guerra who still live in Maputo today and embody the past of the opulence experienced during the support of the Portuguese government and the subsequent marginalization felt after independence.

Amilton Neves Cuna is a professional photographer based in Mozambique whose work examines contemporary societal issues using storytelling and documentary techniques. His past and current projects focus on addressing perceptions of individuals who find themselves at the margins of society through narratives of empowerment while preserving often forgotten aspects of our modern history.

Cuna has participated in training courses at the Sooke Photography School in Canada and Nuku Studio in Ghana, and has been prominently featured several times at the Franco Moçambicano Cultural Center. His work has been exhibited in Mozambique, Ghana, Portugal, Brazil, Ethiopia and Canada. In addition to pursuing his independent projects, Cuna also works as a freelance documentary photographer throughout Africa.

Amilton Neves

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