MOZAMBIQUE FIRST PRESIDENT - SAMORA MACHEL
Most Americans and Europeans have heard of Nelson Mandela and know of his struggle against the system of apartheid in South Africa.
Samora Machel was born in 1933 and was raised in the village of Chilembene. He was a member of the Shangana ethnic group. His parents were poor peasants. Machel knew hunger as his parents were forced to grow cotton by the Portuguese, rather than food such as corn, which they could eat. In the 1950's his parents had their farmland taken so it could be given to Portuguese settlers. In order to avoid starvation his relatives went to work in the South African mines under dangerous conditions. Soon after, his brother was killed in a mining accident.
Samora attended Catholic school but when he was not in class he had to work in the fields. He studied to become a nurse, one of the few professions open to Mozambican blacks at that time. He began his first political activities in a hospital where he protested 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 by saying, "the rich man's dog gets more in the way of vaccination, medicine, and medical care than do the workers upon in whom the rich man's wealth is built."
Rebellion against Portugal was not new to Samora Machel. His grandparents and great grandparents had fought against the Portuguese in the 19th century. In 1962 Machel jointed the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO), as it was called, was dedicated to creating an independent Mozambique. In 1963 Samora Machel left Mozambique and travel to several other African nations where he received military training. In 1964 he returned to Mozambique and led FRELIMO's first guerrilla attack against the Portuguese in northern Mozambique.
Machel spent most of his time in the field with his men, leading them in combat and sharing their dangers and hardships. By 1970 Samora Machel became commander and chief of the Frelimo army. He believed in guerrilla war and Frelimo's army established itself among Mozambique's peasantry. He was a revolutionary who was not only dedicated to throwing the Portuguese out of Mozambique but also radically changing the society. He said, " of all the things we have done, the most important-the one that history will record as the principal contribution of our generation-is that we understand how to turn the armed struggle into a Revolution; that we realized that it was essential to create a new mentality to build a new society."
Machel's goals were to be realized. The revolutionary army weakened Portugal, and after that country's coup in 1974 the Portuguese were forced to leave Mozambique. The new revolutionary government, led by Machel, took over on June 25, 1975. Machel became independent Mozambique's first president and was affectionately referred to as "President Samora."
Machel put his revolutionary principles into practice. As a Marxist he called for the "nationalization" (government ownership) of the Portuguese plantations and property. He moved quickly to have the Frelimo government establish public schools and health clinics for the peasants. He called for Frelimo to organize itself into a Leninist Party (a highly organized single political party).
Samora Machel was an internationalist.
He supported and allowed revolutionaries fighting white minority regimes in Rhodesia and South Africa to operate within Mozambique.
Soon after Mozambique's independence both of these countries attacked Mozambique with an anti-Frelimo organization called RENAMO.
Machel's hostile and more powerful neighbours strangled the Mozambican economy. RENAMO's activities included: the killing of peasants, the destruction of schools and hospitals built by Frelimo, and the blowing up of rail lines and hydroelectric facilities.
The Death of Samora Machel
Unhappily for Mozambique, Samora Machel was killed in an airplane crash October 20 in 1986.
Although, several years before the airplane went down Machel had signed a non-aggression pact with the South Africa, many Mozambicans believed that the white minority South African government caused the plane to crash.
On October 6, 1986, just two weeks before the crash, South African soldiers were injured by land mines near the spot where the borders of Mozambique, South Africa, and Swaziland converge.
Time Magazine noted that "it really seemed too much a coincidence" that Machel's plane crashed almost in the same place two weeks later.
Throughout southern Africa angry people mourned the loss of Samora Machel.
In South Africa protestors blamed their government for Machel's death. In Zimbabwe thousands of youth stormed through downtown Harare.
The crash remains a mystery: with some blaming it simply on bad weather and others still believing in South Africa's guilt.
Nevertheless, for many Mozambicans, Samora Machel is considered the George Washington of their country for he was the general who defeated the Portuguese colonial power and became Mozambique's first president.
SOME MORE OF OUR HISTORY
Lourenço Marques (the city of Maputo was originally named after him) a navigator that in 1544-45 left Mozambique Island on an expedition and found out the importance of the Bay for the traders. In the XVII century, it was occupied by pirates of all nationalities because of the discovery of gold in the Transvaal. In 1784 the harbour started to be built. In 1876, it becomes a village, a city in 1876 and in 1899 capital of the country. It became Maputo in 1976 after independence. Due to the lack of work, domestic work has and still is the main font of labour for the immigrants coming from the rural areas.
Because of his geographic situation, Maputo has become one of the most important places for development in Southern Africa. There are 5 rivers flowing to Maputo Bay, Incomati and Matola from the North, and Umbeluzi, Tembe and Maputo from South. The climate is tropical humid with rains in the hot season from October to March, dry season is from April to September. January and February have the largest rainfall, about 84% of the total annually. July is the coldest month. The capacity of drinking water is still one of the biggest problems in the city.
IX TO XII CENTURY
Establishment of the populations in the Persian Gulf. It was gold that attracted the Portuguese to Mozambique.
The colonial times, which started with Joao da Nova, a navigator that landed in our Bay, then called Lagoa Bay at the time, between 1502 and 1503. In 1544-1546, a man named Lourenço Marques discovered the bay. It was developed commercially and was named after him. It eventually became a vibrant city that is today called Maputo.
The first trading depot was built in Sofala in 1505. With gold they could buy the Asian spices, which was treasured at the time in Europe. There were a lot of battles and skirmishes between the Portuguese and the Arabic-Swahilis.
Gold phase 1505-1693
Ivory phase 1693-1750
Slavery phase 1750-1840/60
Goa government until 1752 started the administration of the colonies. In 1687, saw the arrival of the first seven Indian merchants.
Maputo Bay gained more importance due to the ivory traffic.
Between 1860-1920, they started to occupy more and more to consolidate the Portuguese presence in the area, because of the predominate presence of the English in Southern Africa. One of the Portuguese dreams was to connect Mozambique to Angola. They had to stand down though, since the power and influence of the English was too strong at the time.
. Beginning of the dispatch of Mozambican workers for the exploration of the mines in South Africa.
The Indian traders that were on Mozambique Island started to move down here because of the miners salaries.
1895 - Beginning of the resistance fight from the locals chiefs because of the unpopular measures of the Portuguese. Hut-tax - which if not paid could result in huts being set afire, forced work without remuneration, labour abuse in the construction of the railway lines.
Necessity for the Portuguese army presence in the territory because of the resistance from the Ngungunhana, King of Gaza, that was arrested in Chaimite on December 28, 1895 and sent to Azores in Portugal.
Start of the construction of the railway lines between Lourenco Marques (Maputo) to Pretoria and Beira to Umtali (Mutare-Zimbabwe). Construction of the Beira and Lourenco Marques harbours.
Consolidation of the Portuguese colonialism when most of the working force started heading to the mines in South Africa. The Portuguese payment to the people was very poor. There was a lack of workers in the area, which resulted in the Portuguese bringing about the CHIBALO LAW, which is forced labour. This resulted in the growing importance of the work of woman, children and the elderly in the agricultural sector.
1918 - Beginning of the construction with concrete.
1920 - Expansion of the railway lines. Appearance of the first industries: sugar cane, copper, tea, cotton, sisal, etc.
Increase of the colonialist population.
1940 - Expansion of the internal market and industrial development because of commercial exchange with Portugal.
1947-67 - Start of the construction of the high buildings.
Start of the Liberation Fight. Foundation of Frelimo, Mozambique Front of Liberation: from 3 different organizations of refugees in nearby countries.
First Congress in Tanzania, where Eduardo Mondlane that was living in USA was elected the first President. He was killed in 1970 by the Portuguese secret service that sent him a parcel bomb.
Beginning of the liberation war. Training centres in places like Algeria, Libya, Tanzania...
Samora Machel is elected president of Frelimo after the murder of Eduardo Chivambo Mondlane.
Defeat of the big colonial operation called "No Gordio".
25 April: coup d'etat in Portugal that resulted in the end of the fascist regime and opened the way to the independence of the colonies.
September: Drafting of the Accord for the National Independence and that brought about a ceasefire (Lusaka).
1975, June 25
National Independence and the start of the Popular Republic of Mozambique
Marxist-Leninist Ideological Government
1975, July 24
Nationalizations Day of hospitals, schools, banks and housing...
Renamo, a movement supported by the Rhodesians (Zimbabwe) government and then the South Africa Army started to fight within the country. The first president of the movement died in the fight. Afonso Dhlakama carried on his mission.
1986, October 19
Samora Machel died as a result of his airplane crashing in Mbuzine, South Africa. It is thought in many circles that the South African government was responsible for the "accident".
On the 6th November of the same year, Joaquim Chissano who at the time was Minister of Foreign Affairs was elected President of Mozambique.
1992, October 4
Rome Peace Accord between Chissano and Dhlakama
First General Democratic Elections