The city of Pemba met Reggio Emilia for the first time in 1970, when the first delegation of FRELIMO (the Mozambican Independence Movement from Portuguese colonialism) visited the city of Reggio Emilia and signed – on July 2nd, 1970 – the Twinning Agreement between the Santa Maria Nuova Hospital in Reggio Emilia and the Hopital de Central Cabo Delgado (Pemba).
Samora Machel (the first President of Independent Mozambique) is hosted in Reggio Emilia in 1973, during the International Conference of Solidarity with Angola, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique and São Tome. Friendship and the exchange and hospitality activities – which are active still today- are the real element of this alliance. Politicians, municipal employees, doctors, nurses, hospital employees, ordinary people, teachers and many others professionals have been involved in this alliance. A delegation led by the Mayor of Reggio Emilia Renzo Bonazzi went to Maputo on June 25th, 1975 on the occasion of Independence of Mozambique: in these days the President Samora Machel proposed the signing of a Cooperation and Friendship Pact with the city of Pemba, signed in the Mozambican city on July 2nd, 1975.
Thanks to this achievements, it began a series of international initiatives concerning the promotion of the first cooperation projects, the training in professional context and the cultural promotion. Several exchanges culminate in the mid ‘80s, with the launch of the first big project of decentralized multisector cooperation between Italy and Mozambique: the ships “Noi con Voi” (Us with You). All schools of the territory were mobilized, as well as associations and local authorities: the community is the protagonist. Several publications and exhibitions to narrate the culture of Mozambique were organized. The arrival of the aid ship from Reggio Emilia in August 1986, at the harbour of Pemba, turned into a big party.
The city of Pemba implemented several projects related to “Us with You” by strengthening the town’s services and supporting the creation of businesses, also in the agricultural field.
Since 1997, the city of Pemba takes part in the International Tricolour Games, organized every four years in Reggio Emilia, by sending delegations of young athletes.
With the new millennium, the cooperation between the two cities had a new impetus. In those years, there have been many concrete actions of cooperation: it was built and implemented the health and maternity centre in the bairro Eduardo Mondlane, it was realized the project Chapa – Urban Mobility public service – linking the health centre to rural areas, and eight wells resulting from an exchange program in agriculture were inaugurated.
In 2004, an exchange between some primary schools of Reggio Emilia and Pemba has started, and the opportunities for discussion on education were strengthened. With the EDUCA project (European project that began in 2011), and then with Educa for all, education becomes a central topic in the relationship between the two communities. Within the project EDUCA, exchanges and contacts are multiplied, and, the Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte participates together with Pemba and Reggio Emilia. Mama Graça Machel accepted the invitation to speak at the final conference of the EDUCA project in 2015, in front of the representatives of Pemba, Belo Horizonte and Reggio Emilia, emphasizing the role of education in local communities’ growth around the world.
The relationship between Pemba and Reggio Emilia still continues today with new collaborations and a diversification of the objectives/targets: economic development, support for rural development and agriculture, urban planning, cultural promotion, sustainable tourism and quality education for all.