Samora Moise Machel, is among the list of great African leaders that stood their grounds and fought for the independence of their countries despite the grievances they were facing. Machel was a military commander, politician, and at the same time revolutionist and thanks to his training and experience, he led Mozambique in attaining its independence on 25th of June 1975. But how did all that happen and what inspired Samora to fight against the colonialists?
Samora Machel born in 1933 was raised by a family that practiced cotton farming that was meant to benefit the Portuguese who were at the helm and in control of Mozambique. Samora went to catholic missionary school for his primary and secondary studies from where he acquired the necessary certificates to train as nurse not only in Maputo Mozambique, but also in Portugal. Samora began his political activism while working in the Portuguese hospitals where he protested that the white nurses were paid more money as compared to the black nurses and yet they were doing the same job. Out of his protesting for less payment, Samora got information that he was being watched keenly by the Portuguese police and so without wasting anytime, he fled to Tanzania to join Mozambican nationalist struggle that was dabbed FRELIMO (Mozambique Liberation Front). After joining FRELIMO in 1962, he was sent to Algeria for a Guerilla military training, and came back in 1964 where he led FRELIMO in attacking the Northern parts of Mozambique.
Samora rapidly rose through the ranks in guerilla army dabbed FRELIMO and in 1970, he was elected as the official leader of FRELIMO after his predecessor Eduardo Mondlane was assassinated. Samora would then lead the revolutionary army to fight against the Portuguese who were forced to leave Mozambique for fear of their lives. FRELIMO came to power on 25th of June 1975 as Samora Machel became the first President of Mozambique. Immediately after assuming office, Machel made several changes in Mozambique that favored the blacks including nationalizing each and every land as well as hospitals, schools and houses. Samora while at the helm gave his full support to other revolutionaries like Nelson Mandela in South Africa, and Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe who were also fighting the white regimes. Samora also faced some challenges while in power for the economy of Mozambique had seriously dwindled to an alarming rate.
As mentioned earlier, Samora supported other African leaders in the fight to attain their independence as he hosted them in his country. The whites were uncomfortable with Samora’s assistance and so an army dabbed RENAMO was immediately formed in 1976 by white Rhodesian armies who were seeking to weaken FRELIMO, so that they would not support other revolutionists like Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe who was trying to overthrow the Rhodesian Government. RENAMO were tasked with killing the Mozambican’s, and destroying roads, railway lines, and even electricity. More than 100, 000 people were reported dead as Mozambique’s economy was brought to a standstill, and so they were forced to seek help from the Soviet Union. And so in order to restore his country’s economy, Samora signed the “NKOMATI” agreement with the South Africans which brought an end to the ongoing war and that neither of the parties would help the opposition in South Africa and Mozambique, however the South Africans under PW Botha did not honor that deal, and so the fighting continued. And so FRELIMO and RENAMO would later on in 1982 sign a peace agreement.
Samora Moise Machel died in 1986 from a plane crush when he was returning to Mozambique from Zambia. Before his death, Samora’s security advised him not to travel at night and so he should spend the night in Zambia but he insisted on going back. His plane crushed in South Africa where 33 individuals plus Samora lost their lives as 9 people survived. Samora had two wives, the first wife Josina died at the age of 25 and so he married a second wife Graca Simbine Machel. In 1998 twelve years after the death of Samora, Graca got married to Nelson Mandela, thus making her the only woman in the world to become a first lady in two different countries.
A monument was built at the crush site in South Africa in remembrance of Samora as other countries like Zimbabwe and Tanzania named some streets after Samora in show of gratitude.