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Black Heroes - Josina Muthemba Machel

Josina Muthemba Machel


Josina Muthemba was a key figure in Mozambique's quest for independence. She was born into a well-known nationalist family, which caused her to campaign from a young age.

Her first engagement with the political struggle on a mainstream scale was at Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO) in 1960. FRELIMO encouraged women to participate in both political and military training, it was as early as 1967 when the first group of women from Cabo Delgado and Niassa began their training.

This was an outstanding moment in history as women were breaking through strong social barriers and traditional perceptions of women as only wives and mothers. They proved themselves to be as capable and courageous as their male counterparts, and these same women became the founding members of what was called the Women’s Detachment. Josina Muthemba is credited as being the driving force and vision behind this group of revolutionary women.

Alongside their military and political functions, the Women’s Detachment had important duties in education and social welfare. Muthemba identified the need to support those who were affected by the brutalities of the war for democracy. Comforting families who lost people in the war, giving medical support to those who were injured, and running the FRELIMO orphanage. They also supported women's rights to study and work in local schools, where they taught students about the war, and FRELIMO's work.

In Muthemba's own words she wrote: "we are gradually winning the battle for they realise that a literate and educated woman can make a far more constructive contribution to the revolution than an ignorant one"

In 1969, at the age of 24, she married Samora Machel, the man who would become the first president of Mozambique.



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