Resistance: names, native names, noms-de-guerre, codenames

In a paper written in 2013 for the Festschrift Panel celebrating the work of Helen Hill, Clinton Fernandes praised her early insights into the background and outlook of the FRETILIN leadership and remarked that “a productive avenue of research would be a full-scale biographical analysis of the 46 deceased Fretilin Central Committee members”, whom he listed at the end of his paper.(Clinton Fernandes, ‘‘Populist Catholics’: Fretilin 1975’, TLSA Proceedings 2013, pp. 258-264).

As time goes by and the pool of informants with direct knowledge of the so-called 1975 generation becomes less abundant, the identification and use of published sources will take on a heightened role. The examination of those sources will be crucial to understand the background, roles and motivations, not only of FRETILIN leaders, as suggested by Fernandes, but also of a broader array of FALINTIL commanders, intermediate cadres and other members of the Resistance who, in different capacities, played a significant role in the struggle for liberation.

The examination of the sources will be made more difficult by an insufficient understanding of the organisational structure of the Resistance at different times and in different places during the struggle, as well as by the frequent use of native names, pseudonyms, noms-de-guerre and codenames by the members of the Resistance. The absence of an agreed spelling for many of those names will add to the aforementioned difficulties 

To assist researchers in their work, AMRT published two useful list of names/codenames and acronyms extracted from Resistance documents (here and here). 

Another useful source are the Presidential Decrees nos. 51 to 56, published in 2006, that defined posts and roles in the Resistance and awarded various Orders to several of its living and deceased members (here).

Casa dos Timores has compiled an index of the names appearing in the Presidential Decrees (here). It may be of use to future researchers interested in cross-checking name references in various Resistance sources.

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