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Friday, 19 October, 2001, 13:32 GMT 14:32 UK
Samora Machel remembered
Samora Machel
Samora Machel was a gifted orator who created a sense of national pride.
By Southern Africa correspondent Barnaby Phillips

Mozambicans are mourning the man who did more than any other individual to shape their nation.

I'm filled with memories of a brother, a friend, a comrade, a revolutionary, a leader, a great thinker and a man of action

South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma
President Samora Machel died exactly 15 years ago, on 19 October 1986, when his plane crashed into a hillside in South Africa.

Many Mozambicans are convinced that the crash was the result of sabotage, masterminded by the apartheid regime then in power in Pretoria.

But much has changed in both Mozambique and South Africa since 1986, and, on the whole, for the better.

Changing times

In Mozambique the long-running civil war has ended. It is still desperately poor, but it is a largely peaceful multi-party democracy.

So too is South Africa. And the man who steered South Africa through its transition, former President Nelson Mandela, is now married to Samora Machel's widow, Graca.

Nelson Mandela and Graca Machel at the party
There was a standing ovation for Nelson Mandela and Graca Machel
This week the South African and Mozambican elite gathered at a party outside Johannesburg to honour Samora Machel.

It was a lavish affair.

The list of performers read like a Who's Who of South African music.

Hugh Masakela was the Master of Ceremonies, whilst Yvonne Chaka Chaka and Sibongile Khumalo were amongst the stars who sang.

But the highlight was a magnificent appearance by "Mama Africa" herself, Miriam Makeba.

To the delight of the crowd, she performed "A Luta Continua", a song originally written in honour of Samora Machel, and which inspired a generation of Southern Africans in their fight for independence.

Safe haven

For many of South Africa's current ANC leaders, Samora Machel's Mozambique was a safe-haven during the apartheid years.

You have physically gone, but you still live in the ideals you stood for, you dreamt of and you fought for

Samora Machel's daughter, Josina
Amongst them Deputy President, Jacob Zuma, who lived in the capital Maputo for the best part of a decade.

He was effusive in his praise for Machel.

"I'm filled with memories of a brother, a friend, a comrade, a revolutionary, a leader, a great thinker and a man of action" said Zuma.

But it was Samora's daughter, Josina, who stole the show.

She was only 10 when she lost her father.

Now aged 25, she gave an emotional speech, displaying all the oratorical skills Samora was once famed for.


Close to tears, she lamented the father she barely knew.

"Samora, we never owned you. We shared you with the Mozambican people, with the region, with the world. You have physically gone, but you still live in the ideals you stood for, you dreamt of and you fought for," Josina said.

Graca Machel and Nelson Mandela
Graca Machel is a widely respected campaigner for children
And the crowd cheered when Graca, Nelson Mandela, and the other Machel children joined her on stage.

Samora Machel was no saint. His regime was intolerant of criticism, and some of its economic policies did Mozambique great harm.

But during the long war against the Portuguese colonialists, and later during the first, heady years of independence, he created a sense of national pride.

And he is, on the whole, remembered by his people with great affection.

See also:

28 Aug 01 | Africa
Graca Machel: Children's champion
03 Nov 97 | Africa at 40
Forty years of African history
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