A heroine of Mozambique’s freedom struggle, Josina Machel fought for women’s rights and encouraged other women to join the war. She died at 25 without seeing her dream of an independent Mozambique become a reality.
Josina 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.
It should be remembered that Tanzania, then under Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, offered itself as a base for those fighting for liberation, hosting the forces of many movements and housed large numbers of refugees from struggles across Southern Africa.
While en route, Josina and her fellow revolutionary-minded youngsters landed on hostile hands of colonial authorities in what was then Southern Rhodesia (present-day Zimbabwe). Their capture led to being sent back to Lourenco Marques (today Maputo) and imprisoned for several months.
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. 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.
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.
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.