Dos Santos who passed away aged 90 is a major political figure in his country, where he participated in the foundation of the leftist ruling Frelimo party. The revolutionary dedicated his life to the fight for the liberation of colonized countries.
“We have lost our icon, Comrade Marcelino dos Santos,” President Filipe Nyusi said when announcing the death of the political leader.
Born in 1929 in the northern province of Nampula, dos Santos became at an early age deeply involved in politics.
From 1948 to 1951, he studied in Lisbon, Portugal, but placed under the surveillance of the Portuguese political police, he went to France where he collaborated with various other exiled African nationalists.
With Angolan Mario Pinto de Andrade, and the leader of the Guinea-Bissau liberation fight, Amilcar Cabral, he created the Conference of Nationalist Organisations of the Portuguese Colonies (CONCP) in 1961, where he served as General-Secretary.
As the first Mozambican nationalist movements were developing, Dos Santos became chief of the National Democratic Union of Mozambique (Udenamo) foreign relations department.
In 1962, Udenamo united with two other movements to form Frelimo, under the leadership of Eduardo Mondlane. Dos Santos wrote the first statutes of the newly formed socialist colation.
After Mondlane’s assassination by the Portuguese regime, Samora Machel was elected President of Frelimo in 1971 and dos Santos Deputy President.
When Mozambique gained its independence in 1975, Dos Santos became Minister of Planning and Development in Machel’s first government. He held several other state and party positions, but his most relevant role was chairing the country’s Parliament, the People’s Assembly from 1986 to 1994.
He led then the most progressive parliament in Mozambican history, eliminating the system of a one-party state, passing a constitution which included guarantees for freedoms of assembly, of expression and of the press, among other changes.
Dos Santos was also a poet. He wrote under the pseudonyms of Kulangano and Lilinho Micaia. His poetry was published in the Mozambican paper “O Brado Africano”, but also appeared in the 1950s in two anthologies edited by the “Casa dos Estudantes do Imperio” (House of the Students of the Empire) in Lisbon. His work was also published in the Soviet Union.