Josina Machel - Mozambique's female freedom fighter
Who was Josina Machel? She was born Josina Abiathar Muthemba on August 10, 1945 in the southern province of Inhambane. Unusually for an African woman of the time, her family encouraged her to go to school, and in 1956, she moved the capital, then called Lourenco Marques, to attend a secondary technical school. There, Machel became politically active in clandestine student groups and became a member of an underground cell of the Mozambique Liberation Front, more commonly known by its Portuguese abbreviation, FRELIMO. Currently the dominant political party in Mozambique, FRELIMO was founded in Tanzania in 1962 to fight for Mozambique's independence from Portuguese rule.
How did Josina Machel contribute to the struggle for independence? When she was 18, Josina Machel decided to flee Mozambique to join the liberation war against the Portuguese. On the first attempt, she was captured in what was then Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), sent back home and imprisoned for several months. On the second attempt, she managed to reach Frelimo headquarters in Tanzania's capital, Dar es Salaam - a 3,500 kilometer (2,175 mile) journey. She received military training and rose in FRELIMO ranks, becoming head of the party's Department of Social Affairs in 1969 at the age of 24. The same year, she married Samora Moises Machel, who would go on to become the first president of an
independent Mozambique in 1975. But Josina never lived to see her country liberated from the Portuguese. After a serious illness, she died in Dar es Salaam in 1971.