- Samora Machel
name = Samora Moisés Machel
order = 1st
President of Mozambique
June 25, 1975
October 19, 1986
birth_date = birth date|1933|09|29
birth_place = Madragoa,
Gaza Province, Portuguese East Africa
death_date = death date and age|1986|10|19|1933|09|29
death_place = Mbuzini,
Lebombo Mountains, South Africa
Samora Moisés Machel (
September 29, 1933– October 19, 1986) was a Mozambican military commander, revolutionary socialist leader and eventual President of Mozambique. Machel led the country to independence in 1975 until his death in 1986, when his presidential aircraft crashed in mountainous terrain where the borders of Mozambique, Swazilandand South Africaconverge.
Samora Machel was born in the village of Madragoa (today's Chilembene),
Gaza Province, Portuguese East Africa( Mozambique), to a family of farmers. He was a member of the Shanganaethnic group and his grandfather had been an active collaborator of Gungunhana. Under Portuguese rule, his father, an indigenous, was forced to accept lower prices for his crops than white farmers; compelled to grow labor-intensive cotton, which took time away from the food crops needed for his family; and forbidden to make an identifying brand on his cattle to prevent thievery. However, Machel's father was a successful farmer: he owned four plows and 400 head of cattle by 1940. Machel grew up in this agricultural village and attended mission elementary school. In 1942, Machel was sent to school in the town of Souguene in Gaza Province. The school, was run by Catholic missionaries who educated the children in Portuguese language and culture. Although having completed the fourth grade, Machel never completed his secondary education. However, he had the prerequisite certificate to train as a nurse anywhere in Portugal at the time since the nursing schools were not degree conferring institutions. Machel started to study nursing in the capital city of Lourenço Marques (today Maputo), beginning in 1954. Unable to secure the fees to complete formal training at the Miguel Bombarda Hospital in Lourenço Marques, he got a job working as an aide in the hospital and earned enough to continue his education at night school. He worked at the hospital until he left the country to join the nationalist struggle. In the 1950s, he saw some of the fertile lands around his farming community on the Limpopo riverappropriated by the provincial government and worked by white settlers who developed a wide range of new infrastructures for the region. Like many other Mozambicans near the southern border of Mozambique, some of his relatives went to work in the South African mines where additional job opportunities were found. Shortly afterwards, one of his brothers was killed in a mining accident. [ [http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0305-7070(199309)19%3A3%3C547%3ASMAB%3E2.0.CO%3B2-A Samora Machel, a Biography] , Author(s) of Review: David Hedges Journal of Southern African Studies, Vol. 19, No. 3 (Sep., 1993), pp. 547-549, JSTOR] [Azevedo, Mario, Historical Dictionary of Mozambique, African Historical Dictionaries, No. 47., Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1991.] [Christie, Iain, Machel of Mozambique, Zimbabwe Publishing House, 1988.] [Henriksen, Thomas H., Revolution and Counterrevolution: Mozambique's War of Independence, 1964-1974, Greenwood Press, 1983.] [Samora Machel: An African Revolutionary, edited by Barry Munslow, Zed Books, 1985.] [Mozambique: A Country Study, edited by Harold D. Nelson, Foreign Area Studies, American University, U.S. Government, Research Completed 1984.]
Machel was attracted to Marxist ideals and began his political activities in a hospital where he protested against the fact that black nurses were paid less than whites doing the same job. He later told a reporter how bad medical treatment was for Mozambique's poor: "The rich man's dog gets more in the way of vaccination, medicine and medical care than do the workers upon whom the rich man's wealth is built." His grandparents and great grandparents had fought against Portuguese colonial rule in the 19th century so it was not surprising that in 1962 Machel joined the
Front for the Liberation of Mozambique( FRELIMO) which was dedicated to creating an independent Mozambique. He received military training in 1963 elsewhere in Africa, and returned in 1964 to lead FRELIMO's first guerrilla attack against the Portuguese in northern Mozambique. Machel married his first wife, Josina, in 1969, having his first child later that same year. By 1969, Machel had become commander-in-chief of the FRELIMO army which had already established itself among Mozambique's peasantry. His most important goal, he said, was to get the people "to understand how to turn the armed struggle into a revolution" and to realize how essential it was "to create a new mentality to build a new society."Two months after the assassination of FRELIMO's president, Eduardo Mondlane, in February 1969, a ruling triumvirate comprising Samora Machel, Marcelino dos Santosand Frelimo's vice-president Uria Simangoassumed the leadership. Simango was expelled from the party in 1970, and Machel assumed the presidency of the movement [ [http://www.answers.com/topic/samora-machel Samora Machel: Biography and Much More from Answers.com ] ] .
That goal would soon be realized. The FRELIMO army had weakened the colonial power and, after Portugal's coup in 1974, the Portuguese left Mozambique. Machel's revolutionary government then took over and he became independent Mozambique's first president on
June 25, 1975. Marcelino dos Santosbecame vice-president. Uria Simango,his wife Celina and other FRELIMOdissidents such as Adelino Gwambe and Paulo Gumane (former leaders of UDENAMO, one of the National liberation groups in Mozambique) werearrested and later extra-judicially executed [ Mozambique: a tortuous road to democracy by J .Cabrita, Macmillan 2001 ISBN 970-0-333-97738-5 ] .
At home, Machel quickly put his Marxist principles into practice by calling for the
nationalizationof Portuguese plantations and property, and to have the FRELIMO government establish schools and health clinics for the peasants. As an internationalist, Machel allowed revolutionaries fighting white minority regimes in Rhodesia( Zimbabwe) and South Africa to train and operate with Mozambique. The regimes retaliated by forming a rebel group called RENAMOto destroy the schools and hospitals built by FRELIMO, and to sabotage railway lines and hydroelectric facilities. The Mozambique economy suffered from these depredations, and began to depend on overseas aid - in particular from the Soviet Union. Nonetheless, Machel remained popular throughout his presidency.
Samora Machel was awarded
Lenin Peace Prize(1975-76).
The fatal aircrash and investigations
October 19, 1986Samora Machel was on his way back from an international meeting in Lusaka, Zambiain the presidential Tupolev Tu-134aircraft when the plane crashed in the Lebombo Mountains, near Mbuzini. There were ten survivors,cite web|url=http://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19861019-0|title=Accident description|publisher=Aviation Safety Network|accessdate=2007-12-18] but President Machel and twenty-four others died, including ministers and officials of the Mozambique government.
The Margo Commission, set up by the South African government, but which included high-level international representationFact|date=October 2008, investigated the incident and concluded that the accident was caused by pilot error. Despite the acceptance of its findings by the
International Civil Aviation Organization, the report was rejected by the Mozambiquean and Soviet governments. The latter submitted a minority report suggesting that the aircraft was intentionally lured off course by a decoy radio navigationbeacon set up specifically for this purpose by the South Africans. Speculation about the accident has therefore continued to the present day, particularly in Mozambique,cite news|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/1608628.stm|title=Samora Machel remembered|publisher= BBC News|date=October 19, 2001|accessdate=2008-03-30] .
Hans Louw, a
Civil Cooperation Bureauoperative, claims to have assisted in the death of former Mozambican President Samora Machel cite web|url=http://www.dispatch.co.za/2003/01/13/southafrica/EMACHEL.HTM|title=Ex-CCB man in Machel death claim|publisher=Daily DIspatch|accessdate=2008-10-06] cite web|url=http://www.africanstudies.uct.ac.za/postamble/vol2-2/assassination.pdf|title=A Case of Assassination?|publisher=University of Cape Town|accessdate=2008-10-06] . Pik Botha, South African foreign affairs minister of the time, who later joined the ANC, said that the investigation into the plane crash should be re-opened cite web|url=http://www.sundayindependent.co.za/?fSectionId=3536&fArticleId=nw20081006154944165C741265|title=Probe Samora Machel's death - Pik Botha|publisher=Sunday Independent|accessdate=2008-10-06] .
Machel's widow, Graça, is convinced the aircrash was not an accident and has dedicated her life to tracking down her husband's alleged killers. In July 1998, Mrs Machel married the then South African President
Nelson Mandela. She thus became unique in having been the first ladyof two different nations ( Mozambiqueand South Africa), although not simultaneously.
A memorial at the
Mbuzinicrash site was inaugurated on January 19, 1999by Nelson Mandela and his wife Graça, and by President Joaquim Chissanoof Mozambique. Designed by Mozambican architect, Jose Forjaz, at a cost to the South African government of 1.5 million Rand (US$ 300,000), the monument comprises 35 steel tubes symbolising the number of lives lost in the aircrash. At least eight foreigners were killed there, including the four Soviet crew members, Machel's two Cuban doctors and the Zambian and Zairean ambassadors to Mozambique. ["Panafrican News Agency" January 5, 1999"Monument for Machel plane crash site"]
Portuguese Colonial War
Samora Machel constituency, named after Machel in Namibia
* [http://www.anc.org.za/ancdocs/history/mandela/1999/nm0119.htm Speech by Nelson Mandela at the unveiling of the Samora Machel Memorial]
* [http://www.news24.com/Content_Display/TRC_Report/2chap6a.htm The TRC's Special Investigation into the death of President Samora Machel]
* [http://www.africanstudies.uct.ac.za/postamble/vol2-2/assassination.pdf A case of assassination? President Samora Machel and the plane crash at Mbuzini]
* [http://www.sahistory.org.za/pages/people/bios/machel-s.htm Biographical notes on Samora Machel]
* [http://www.niza.nl/uk/press/mandela/graca.html Graça Machel and Mandela]
* [http://www.docsonline.tv/Archives/description.php?doc=123 Historic film essay on Frelimo and Samora Machel's rehabilitation program]
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