29 September marks the birthday of Mozambique independence leader, Samora Machel, in 1933. Machel was born in the Gaza Province, of Mozambique. He never completed the fourth grade and would go on to work as a nurse’s aide. Soon he became active in workers struggles, organizing protests against the disparity in pay between white and Black nurses.
On September 25, 1964, the rebel group FRELIMO (An acronym which in Portuguese stood for the ‘The Mozambique Liberation Front’) launched a war for independence from Portuguese colonial rule. Machel volunteered for military service and went to Algeria for training. Machel soon became a key commander, rising rapidly in the ranks of the guerrilla army.
In 1970, Marchel would become President of FRELIMO. That same year the Portuguese government launched a major offensive against the rebels, which they publicly claimed would wipe them out “in a few months”. The situation changed dramatically when the government of Portugal was overthrown on 25 April, 1974 and those soldiers stationed in Mozambique became increasingly reluctant to fight. FRELIMO continued it’s armed struggle and by September of ’74 and agreement was signed to transfer power to FRELIMO the following summer.
Within a month of taking power, under the leadership of Machel, the FRELIMO government began a wide program of nationalization, for medical services
To rented housing, with Machel famously declaring, “What do we want landlords in our country for?”
The Western world put increasing pressure on the government of Mozambique, culminating in the formation of a rebel army trained and financed by the Apartheid government of South Africa. In 1977, this army, known as RENAMO launched a rebellion and was supplied by South African airdrops.
Machel died in a plane crash in October of 1986. A number of streets in Africa, as well as one in Moscow, Russia, bear his name in tribute. In 1999, Nelson Mandela, dedicated a memorial at the site of the crash.
The book, ‘Samora Machel, An African Revolutionary: Selected Speeches and Writings’ is available in the Memorial Library which can be accessed by University Staff through use of their Wiscard ID.