The imaginary of socialist citizenship in Mozambique: the School of Friendship as an affective community

Autumn 2018

It is early November 2014, almost twenty-five years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall – in fact a few days before the anniversary. In Maputo, Mozambique, the Instituto Cultural Moçambique-Alemanha (ICMA) opens an exhibition in its foyer with the title ‘da ditadura – a democracia’ (from dictatorship to democracy), which tells the often rehearsed story of the oppressive former East German (GDR) regime and its fall. Shortly after that opening, in the adjacent ICMA auditorium, an event of a very different kind takes place that evening, also to commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the end of the Cold War: a podium discussion on the lasting legacies of this period of socialist experimentations, in all their complexity. The three key participants are graduates of the Schule der Freundschaft (the School of Friendship, SdF), the biggest educational exchange programme between the then People’s Republic of Mozambique and the former GDR, all of whom I first met in 2008 when conducting research on a book about the SdF.1 The three participants speak
vividly about how they remember the time when they first came from poor urban or rural backgrounds in Mozambique to the GDR, with its first-class railways, high-rise buildings, paved roads and unfamiliar but tasty foods.