Jo­si­na Ma­chel

Revista Biografia - - Profile -

Jo­si­na Ma­chel (19451971) is a Mo­zam­bi­can he­roi­ne. She is con­si­de­red icon of the eman­ci­pa­ti­on of the wo­man in Mo­zam­bi­que. In fact, on April 7, 2011, the day af­ter the 40th an­ni­ver­sary of her de­ath, pe­o­ple, po­li­ti­ci­ans and bat­tle bud­di­es in the Na­ti­o­nal Li­be­ra­ti­on Strug­gle gathe­red in Chi­lem­be­ne, Ga­za pro­vin­ce, whe­re tri­ed to de­fi­ne her fi­gu­re.

In that event, Zi­na, as she was af­fec­ti­o­na­tely cal­led, was cha­rac­te­ri­zed as an exam­ple of ex­cep­ti­o­nal and trans­cen­den­tal cou­ra­ge, un­com­mon among mor­tals.

Jo­si­na Abi­a­tar Muthem­ba was born in the pro­vin­ce of Inham­ba­ne, southern Mo­zam­bi­que, at dawn on Au­gust 10.

Her na­me is the fruit of the gre­at fri­endship betwe­en her father, the nur­se Abi­a­tar Muthem­ba, and Dr. Jo­si­na de Li­ma Ri­bei­ro, a phy­si­ci­an at the then Hos­pi­tal Mi­guel Bom­bar­da, now Hos­pi­tal Cen­tral de Ma­pu­to . Zi­na be­gan her stu­di­es at the Dom João de Cas­tro Scho­ol, in Mo­cím­boa da Praia, in the north of Ca­bo Del­ga­do, the dis­trict whe­re her father had be­en trans­fer­red.

At ho­me, her mother, Al­fi­na Muthem­ba, sought to en­cou­ra­ge her chil­dren to study. She le­a­ded them com­pe­te to see who was the fas­test in mathe­ma­ti­cal cal­cu­la­ti­ons and in the dic­ta­ti­on of Por­tu­gue­se. The win­ner re­cei­ved a do­se of “li­fet­se”, a mu­ch-ap­pre­ci­a­ted swe­et in southern Mo­zam­bi­que. La­ter, Abi­a­tar Muthem­ba was again trans­fer­red to Ga­za pro­vin­ce. And Zi­na had to com­ple­te ele­men­tary scho­ol at the Mou­zi­nho de Al­bu­quer­que Scho­ol, in Xai-Xai.

At the age of 13 ye­ars old, in the girl who li­ked to ma­ke two braids with a risk in the mid­dle, the dre­am of wan­ting be­co­mes an ac­coun­tant and mo­ved to the co­lo­ni­al ca­pi­tal, the city of Lou­ren­ço Mar­ques (cur­rent Ma­pu­to city).

In Lou­ren­ço Mar­ques, she in­ten­ded to re­cei­ve com­pen­sa­ti­on clas­ses, com­monly ex­plai­ned, for the ad­mis­si­on exam at the Com­mer­ci­al Scho­ol (nowa­days Com­mer­ci­al Ins­ti­tu­te of Ma­pu­to), lo­ca­ted next to the Li­ceu Sa­la­zar (cur­ren­tly Jo­si­na Ma­chel Se­con­dary Scho­ol). The ap­pli­ca­ti­on exam was suc­ces­s­fully com­ple­ted, and af­ter that, she fi­nished the fifth ye­ar with the sa­me joy. In the ca­pi­tal, Zi­na li­ved at the ho­me of her ma­ter­nal grand­mother, Ana Ma­co­me, in the Cha­man­cu­lo neigh­bourho­od, a nur­sery of na­ti­o­na­lism. It was the­re, whe­re Jo­si­na was born, an in­te­rest in the cau­se of in­de­pen­den­ce. It all hap­pe­ned when se­ve­ral el- ements of her fa­mily we­re ar­res­ted.

It was in this con­text that in Mar­ch 1964 Jo­si­na Muthem­ba, Ar­man­do Gu­e­bu­za (at the ti­me, Pre­si­dent of the Stu­dents’ Nu­cleus of Mo­zam­bi­que), Ân­ge­lo Aza­ri­as Chi­cha­va, Mi­la­gre de Je­sus Ma­zu­ze, Ade­li­na Pain­da­ne, Cris­ti­na Tem­be and Ma­ri­a­na Sa­rai­va Mp­fu­mo, de­ci­ded to le­a­ve Mo­zam­bi­que to join the Mo­zam­bi­que Li­be­ra­ti­on Front (FRELIMO).

In or­der to es­ca­pe the con­trol of PIDE, the ter­ri­ble se­cret po­li­ce of the co­lo­ni­al re­gi­me, they had to le­a­ve in Ma­pai around 4:00 a.m. the train that they had co­me up to le­a­ve Mo­zam­bi­que. Then they had to walk on fo­ot mo­re than 80 ki­lo­me­ters, from Ma­pai to the Fron­ti­er Vil­la­ge of Chi­cu­a­la­cu­a­la, defying fa­ti­gue, hun­ger and thirst. Twenty-four hours af­ter le­a­ving the train, on the Rho­de­si­an si­de, they con­ti­nu­ed to walk on fo­ot unin­ter­rup­te­dly for mo­re than 30 km un­til they re­su­med the train to Sa­lis­bury (nowa­days Ha­ra­re).

On that jour­ney, they met two mo­re Mo­zam­bi­cans, Si­mi­o­ne Chi­vi­te and Amos Mahan­ja­ne who joi­ned them on the sa­me jour­ney.

From Sa­lis­bury, the group that com­pri­sed Jo­si­na Muthem­ba, re­su­med the trip to Zam­bia. On the train, they we­re ar­res­ted by the Rho­de­si­an po­li­ce as they pre­pa­red to le­a­ve that coun­try, and we­re im­pri­so­ned in Vic­tory Falls.

Zi­na and her col­le­a­gues we­re

la­ter de­por­ted and han­ded over to PIDE. For about fi­ve months, they we­re sys­te­ma­ti­cally tor­tu­red.

Al­re­ady in the cru­el Vi­la Al­gar­ve, the he­ad­quar­ters of PIDE, Jo­si­na was in­ter­ro­ga­ted se­ve­ral ti­mes. At the ti­me, she was of­fe­red a scho­larship to study in Por­tu­gal. Howe­ver, the of­fer was de­cli­ned. Jo­si­na and her col­le­a­gues we­re la­ter re­le­a­sed and re­mai­ned in su­per­vi­sed fre­e­dom. Des­pi­te the in­ti­mi­da­ti­on of PIDE, the dre­am of joi­ning FRELIMO was re­su­med.

In April 1965, they again in­sis­ted on another es­ca­pe, this ti­me from Swa­zi­land, whe­re they stayed for a few months. They la­ter ma­na­ged to cross South Afri­ca clan­des­ti­nely and, in the Bri­tish Be­chu­a­na­land pro­tec­to­ra­te, cur­ren­tly Botswa­na, we­re again ar­res­ted and th­re­a­te­ned with de­por­ta­ti­on by the Bri­tish autho­ri­ti­es.

As a re­sult of the in­ter­ven­ti­on of Edu­ar­do Mon­dla­ne, Pre­si­dent of FRELIMO, de­man­ding the un­con­di­ti­o­nal re­le­a­se, the group was han­ded over to the Uni­ted Na­ti­ons High Com­mis­si­o­ner for Re­fu­ge­es and ta­ken to Zam­bia. La­ter she was sent to Tan­za­nia, ta­ken by Ma­ri­a­no Mat­si­nha, then FRELIMO re­pre­sen­ta­ti­ve, in Zam­bia.

The group ar­ri­ved in Tan­za­nia in Au­gust 1965. Jo­si­na be­gan wor­king in the ad­mi­nis­tra­ti­on of the Mo­zam­bi­can Ins­ti­tu­te, being the right arm of Ja­net, the wi­fe of Edu­ar­do Mon­dla­ne. Her qua­li­ti­es im­pres­sed Mon­dla­ne. In a short ti­me of in­te­gra- ti­on, Zi­na re­cei­ved from the pre­si­dent the im­por­tant mis­si­on of or­ga­ni­zing the po­li­ti­cal edu­ca­ti­on of wo­men’s unit in Ni­as­sa pro­vin­ce, whe­re the Na­ti­o­nal Li­be­ra­ti­on Strug­gle was de­ve­lo­ping with par­ti­cu­lar in­ten­sity. At the II FRELIMO Con­gress, whi­ch to­ok pla­ce in 1968, Jo­si­na was elec­ted de­le­ga­te, th­rough her po­si­ti­on she de­fen­ded the full in­clu­si­on of wo­men in all as­pects of the li­be­ra­ti­on strug­gle. La­ter, she as­su­med the po­si­ti­on of the Wo­men’s Sec­ti­on in the De­part­ment of Fo­reign Af­fairs. The in­ten­ti­on to em­bra­ce a hard and vi­o­lent li­fe was ma­ni­fes­ted when Edu­ar­do Mon­dla­ne sent Ma­ri­a­na Pa­chi­nu­a­pa to gi­ve a lec­tu­re at the FRELIMO Scho­ol in Tan­za­nia whe­re she met Jo­si­na Muthem­ba who told her: “I want to go to Na­chingweya to train.” And she had the answer: “No! Ke­ep studying.”

Zi­na left sa­dly but did not gi­ve up. Pro­of of this is the let­ter sent as­king to stop studying to go to train in Na­chingweya. In the let­ter was a half-body pic­tu­re, with the words: “With suc­cess in the re­vo­lu­ti­on.”

In 1968, Mon­dla­ne ga­ve Jo­si­na a scho­larship to study in Swit­zer­land. Zi­na re­fu­sed and re­af­fir­med that she wan­ted to go to Na­chingweya. And your re­quest was even­tu­ally ac­cep­ted. The young wo­man was re­cei­ved, in Na­chingweya, by Ma­ri­na Pa­chi­nu­a­pa, who to­ok her to the trai­ning. The pre­pa­ra­ti­on be­gan at 8:00 a.m. and en­ded at 7:00 p.m. without drin­king wa­ter or ea­ting. At the end of the trai­ning, Ma­ri­na as­ked her:

“Do you want this re­a­lity?” And Jo­si­na re­pli­ed, “That’s right.”

This epi­so­de arou­sed the in­te­rest and at­ten­ti­on of Sa­mo­ra Ma­chel (one of the FRELIMO le­a­ders, who la­ter be­ca­me the foun­der of the Mo­zam­bi­can sta­te). In la­te 1968, Sa­mo­ra and Jo­si­na be­gan da­ting. Mon­dla­ne, upon re­cei­ving the news, ad­vi­sed Sa­mo­ra to mar­ry quic­kly. Sa­mo­ra Ma­chel and Jo­si­na Muthem­ba we­re mar­ri­ed on May 4, 1969 at the Tun­du­ro Edu­ca­ti­o­nal Cen­ter in southern Tan­za­nia and Zi­na adop­ted the na­me Jo­si­na Ma­chel. On No­vem­ber 23, of 1969, was born Sa­mo­ra Ma­chel Jú­ni­or, known li­ke Sa­mi­to, first and only son of the guer­ril­la. Jo­si­na re­tur­ned to work as he­ad of So­ci­al Af­fairs, with spe­ci­al res­pon­si­bi­lity for the well-being of war orphans, and for the he­alth and edu­ca­ti­on of all chil­dren in con­flict zo­nes in northern Mo­zam­bi­que, but her ill­ness wor­se­ned.

In 1970, he tra­ve­led to the So­vi­et Uni­on, whe­re he sought a di­ag­no­sis for his ch­ro­nic we­ak­ness, but without suc­cess. That did not ke­ep Jo­si­na away from work. The di­gres­si­ons to the li­be­ra­ted zo­nes of the Ni­as­sa and Ca­bo Del­ga­do we­re in­ten­si­fi­ed, but the se­ri­ous prob- lem of the li­ver un­der­mi­ned its body. At 26, he was still fra­gi­le. On Mar­ch 6, 1971, Jo­si­na ma­de her last trip to Ca­bo Del­ga­do, whe­re she was to le­arn about the si­tu­a­ti­on of the chil­dren of FRELIMO nur­sery scho­ols in that pro­vin­ce. Howe­ver, Jo­si­na had a fe­ver and fa­ced dif­fi­cul­ti­es in in­ter­ve­ning with the po­pu­la­ti­on. Al­re­ady on the bor­der back to Dar-es-Sa­la­am, Zi­na drew her pis­tol and said, “Hand it over to the com­ra­de le­a­der of the pro­vin­ce to ser­ve as the sal­va­ti­on of the Mo­zam­bi­can pe­o­ple.” He ad­ded, “Com­ra­des, I am not going any further, but I’m wor­ri­ed about the re­vo­lu­ti­on and the chil­dren.”

On April 6 her he­alth de­te­ri­o­ra­ted. On the night of that day she was unwil­lin­gly ta­ken by Jo­a­quim and Mar­ce­li­na Chis­sa­no to the Muthim­bi­li Hos­pi­tal in Dar-es-Sa­la­am, whe­re she would end up lo­sing her li­fe at dawn on April 7, le­a­ving a child with only 16 months.

The in­de­pen­den­ce cau­se was to be won four ye­ars af­ter his de­ath. April 7 day is a ho­li­day in Mo­zam­bi­que and is con­si­de­red Mo­zam­bi­can Wo­men’s Day, in ho­nour of Jo­si­na’s fe­ats. In Ma­pu­to, the for­mer Li­ceu Sa­la­zar got its na­me, as well as a hos­pi­tal in Lu­an­da, the An­go­lan ca­pi­tal.

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