By Tendai Moyo
Today Zimbabwe joins Mozambique in celebrating the birth of Samora Machel who played a crucial role in the independence of Zimbabwe from colonial rule.
Born in 29 September 1933, Machel was a military commander, politician and revolutionary who trained as a nurse, one of the few professions that were open to blacks. He protested against the fact that black nurses were paid less than whites doing the same job.
Samora’s qualities and leadership skills endeared him to the masses. Where freedom was concerned, Samora did not settle for less. The principled political leader and a family man hated corruption and had no sacred cows seen through the exposure of his own ministers involved in such.
His role in Zimbabwe’s independence witnessed him allowing the freedom fighters to operate from Frelimo-held areas in Tete province into northern areas of Rhodesia.
He promoted peace within Zimbabwe saying "to ensure national unity, there must be no Shonas in Zimbabwe, there must be no Ndebeles in Zimbabwe, there must be Zimbabweans. Some people are proud of their tribalism. But we call tribalists reactionary agents of the enemy."
His wife Graca Machel says “it was in the morning that they came to inform him that Tongogara was no more. It was one of the few times I saw him cry. The other was when his father died.” This shows the deep relationship that he had with Zimbabwe and its quest to an independent country.
Machel died in office on 19 October 1986 when his presidential aircraft crashed near the Mozambican-South African border.