Posted on October 19, 2015
A memorial service will be held at the Samora Machel Monument, in Mozambique, today.
You see, it is the anniversary of a plane crash that killed this national hero, Mozambique's first president, in 1986.
Artist José Foraj designed two parts for the monument: a display of some of the wreckage of the plane, and 35 tubes of steel. Each tube stands for a person who died in the crash, and the tubes were designed so that the wind blowing over, between, and through the tubes would create a wailing sound.
A library is located near the monument, a multi-lingual slab tells a bit about Machel, and a statue of Machel, donated by Norwegian artists, now stands at the monument as well.
Who was Samora Machel?
Was he a villager born to a family of farmers?
Was he a fifth-grade dropout?
Was he a nurse?
Was he a protestor who rose through the ranks of the Frente de Libertação de Moçambique – Mozambique's liberation movement – to become president of the movement?
Was he a believer in communism?
Yes to all of that. Of course, Machel was more. He was a complex guy, a hero to some and a villain to others. He became president of his nation while Mozambique was still fighting for independence from Portugal. Machel quickly nationalized land and institutions, and although the nation was supposed to be a people's nation, a worker-peasant's nation, the people as such didn't get to vote for Machel or other national leaders.
In other words, Machel was definitely not a democratically-elected president.
Machel seems to have been guilty of human rights violations, and his rule was marred by wars, including civil wars. When his plane went down on this date in 1986, several people and groups suspected that the crash was caused by Machel's enemies. An investigation pointed to pilot error, but neither the the Soviet government nor the Mozambique government accepted the findings of the commission (the plane, pilot, and crew were all Soviet). To this day nobody is certain if the crash was an accident or an assassination.
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