Mosambik: Paulina Chiziane

When working with the Red Cross I finally understood that pen and paper are my arms for fighting."

— Paulina Chiziane

Paulina Chiziane, born in 1955, grew up in Maputo, where she attended school. After publishing a number of stories in the Mozambican press, she wrote "Balada de Amor ao Vento" in 1989 and in 1996 "Ventos do Apócalipse". Her novel "Niketche: Uma Historia de Poligamia" (2002) was awarded the Jose Craveirinha Prize by the Association of Mozambican Writers. Paulina Chiziane worked for the Red Cross in Mozambique and as a technical adviser to different women's empowerment projects. Her writing reflects her encounters with women and the civil war that ravaged Mozambique.

Pauline Chiziane’s first writings were diaries but unlike other girls she would write her dreams in the mornings in her dreams diary. When her friends discovered the beauty of her writing they asked her to support them writing love letters. This earned her the nickname "love secretary". As she grew older, politics in Mozambique changed with the crumbling of the fascist regime in Portugal; the independence movement grew and women started to focus on their rights. Paulina Chiziane worked as a secretary in the ministry of health and later as an assistant in the laboratory of the ministry of agriculture. It was her employment with the Red Cross that made a mark in her life. She worked directly in dangerous areas supporting people in need. She started taking notes about everything that she saw, felt and even dreamt. Her encounters are reflected in her first book "Balada de Amor ao Vento" (Ballad of Love in the Wind), which is a story about a country woman who had to face patriarchal traditions in her search for her love and her own way in the world. This is the first book by a Mozambican woman after independence and the first book written by an African woman from the Portuguese-speaking countries. The book was a success, particularly because it was an African woman talking about women's condition in Africa, and it had support from women. The book was a critique on men but it helped bridge the barrier between men and women. The civil war in Mozambique, the African myths and traditions, the women she trains on gender and her work to promote women’s access to basic services and to development in Africa give Paulina Chiziane material for new books. Her books reflect women who fight to be heard, who fight for their rights, who fight to be free.

Núcleo das Associações Femeninas da Zambézia (Nafeza) Red Cross Mozambique