samora machel latest 19.10.10.jpgOn October 19 this year, Africa will be commemorating the silver anniversary of the death of the continent’s icon, the late Mozambican President, Cde Samora Moises Machel.

But who was this revolutionary and great military strategist?

The late Mozambican President, Cde Samora Machel was born in the village of Madragoa, now Chilembene, Gaza Province in Mozambique on September 29, 1933 to a family of farmers.

He was a member of the Shangani ethnic group and his grandfather had been an active collaborator of Gungunhana.
Under Portuguese rule, his father was forced to accept lower prices for his crops than white farmers and was compelled to grow labour-intensive cotton, which meant he could not grow food crops needed by his family.

Cde Machel’s father was also forbidden from branding his cattle, leaving them at the mercy of rustlers.
It was this unfair treatment suffered by his people at the hands of the colonialist Portuguese regime that motivated him to later take up arms.

In 1942, Cde Machel was sent to school in the town of Zonguene in Gaza Province. The school was run by Catholic missionaries who educated the children in Portuguese language and culture.  He completed the fourth grade, but dropped out of 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 Maputo, beginning in 1954.

In the 1950s, he saw some of the fertile lands around his farming community on the Limpopo river appropriated by the provincial government and worked by white settlers who developed a wide range of new infrastructure 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.

Unable to complete formal training at the Miguel Bombarda Hospital in Maputo, he got a job working as an aide in the same hospital and earned enough to continue his education at night school.

He worked at the hospital until he left the country to join the Mozambican nationalist struggle in neighbouring Tanzania.

Machel led the country when it attained independence in 1975 until his death on October 19, 1986, when his presidential aircraft crashed in the mountainous terrain where the borders of Mozambique, Swaziland and South Africa converge.

Zimbabweans mourned Cde Samora Machel as one of their own.

Indeed, he was the son of Africa!