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The Short But Inspiring Life of Josina Machel, the Mozambican Heroine Who Died Fighting for Her Country at 25

In the same way as other powerful ladies in Africa, less is known about Josina Machel, a critical African progressive figure and champion of the battle for Mozambican national freedom who strongly wore battle adapt and battled in the war of autonomy as a guerrilla, made shelters and went all through the nation bringing issues to light of ladies’ dynamic job in the war.

Photo: Mozambique History

Born Josina Abiatar Muthemba to a patriot family in August 10, 1945 in Inhambane, southern Mozambique, she was among couple of Mozambican young ladies of the time advantaged to get specialized optional training.

Amid her initial young years, she wound up dynamic in the association Núcleo dos Estudantes Africanos Secundários de Mocambique (NESAM), an association that supported a positive feeling of social personality and political training among Mozambican understudies.

Having turned out to be politically cognizant, in 1964 she set out on a progressive journey to neighboring Tanzania to join the freedom battle against the Portuguese at FRELIMO base camp in Dar-es-salaam. Among her partners on this adventure was then 21-year old Armando Emilio Guebuza, a young fellow who four decades later would turn into the third leader of the nation.

It ought to be recalled that Tanzania, at that point under Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, offered itself as a base for those battling for freedom, facilitating the powers of numerous developments and housed expansive quantities of displaced people from battles crosswise over Southern Africa, giving a getaway to those jeopardized by war or pilgrim abuse.

While on the way, Josina and her kindred progressive disapproved of adolescents arrived on threatening hands of pioneer experts in what was then Southern Rhodesia (present-day Zimbabwe). Their catch prompted being sent back to Lourenco Marques (today Maputo) and detained for a while.

Photo: Mozambique history

Even after an international campaign carried out by FRELIMO which resulted in her release from jail, Josina was placed under tight surveillance by the colonial police. But despite several months of attempting to deflect her, her determination to reach Dar–es–salaam remained whole.  She successfully fled the country along with a group of friends, this time reaching their destination untroubled.


At just 20 years old, Josina’s true devotion to the struggle afforded her ascension to the position of assistant director of the Mozambique Institute, a residential education centre for Mozambican students in Tanzania. To prove her commitment, she turned down a scholarship offer to undertake university studies in Europe, opting to stay and continue the fight against the Portuguese.

Josina is reported to have played an instrumental role in the establishment of the Women’s Detachment (Destacamento Feminino), the guerrilla army of FRELIMO  in 1967 which played a pioneering role in both the emancipation of women in Mozambique and their participation in the fight for national liberation, proving that women can do combat jobs as well as men. This group did not only carry out military and political tasks but also had important duties in the fields of education and social welfare, providing care and shelter for the victims of war.

Being one of first 25 young women to attend a combat training in Nachingwea district in southern Tanzania, Josina climbed the ranks within FRELIMO assuming the role of head of the Women’s Section in the party’s Department of International Relations at the age of 24.

In 1969, she was appointed head of the party’s Department of Social Affairs and that same year married Samora Machel, who would go on to become the first president of independent Mozambique in 1975. The couple was blessed with a son, Samora Junior.

Josina was extremely determined to see her country and people liberated, so she resumed her struggle almost immediately after giving birth leaving her son with a friend in Dar es Salaam while she carried out her revolutionary duties in the Niassa and Cabo Delgado regions of northern Mozambique.

By 1970, she began suffering from a serious illness; her health deteriorated and finally died in Dar es Salaam in April 7, 1971, four years before she would have a chance to witness her country liberated from the cruelty of colonial Portuguese government. The day on which she passed is now celebrated as National Women’s Day in Mozambique.

Josina stood against all odds and refused to remain calm waiting for freedom to be served to her by the men. Too sad that she did not live to see her compatriots joyfully singing and chanting Liberdade! Liberdade! Her priceless legacy will forever remain dear to Mozambicans and all Africans.


Written by How Africa

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