The Mozambican government has decided to grant the town of Chilembene – the birthplace of the country’s first president Samora Machel – in the Southern province of Gaza, the status of a national cultural heritage site.
President Armando Guebuza announced this at Chilembene Monday, which would have been Machel’s 75th birthday if he were alive.
Samora Machel became President of the Mozambican Liberation Front (FRELIMO) in 1970, and led it to victory in the independence war against the Portuguese colonial rule.
He proclaimed Mozambican independence 25 June 1975, and was President of the country until his death 19 October 1986, in a plane crash at Mbuzini, just inside South Africa, widely believed to have been caused by the apartheid military.
Guebuza declared that just as the assassins had been wrong to imagine that the m urder of Mondlane would end the struggle for independence, so those who killed Samora Machel were deceiving themselves if they imagined that by physically eliminating him they would eliminate the causes that he defended.
“A man of his stature is inseparable from the ideals of the people,” said Guebuza. “He becomes immortal, an obligatory reference point for our people”.
He claimed that “Samora’s dream is now a reality in the country”, citing the prestige that Mozambique now enjoys in such regional and international fora as the United Nations, the African Union and Southern African Development Community, and the social and economic development that Mozambique has undergone in recent years, in areas like education, health, water supply, and the expansion of the electricity grid and communications networks.
Under Machel’s leadership, Guebuza recalled, Mozambique did not only free itself from the cruelties of colonial rule, but also contributed to the liberation of the peoples of Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa, and then to the overthrow of apartheid and racism in the southern African region.
Speaking to the thousands of people who made their way to Chilembene for the celebrations, Guebuza urged Mozambicans to take inspiration from the ideals of Samora Machel and others of his generation, who fought for the country’s freedom.