Josina Muthemba Machel

Who says you’re ever too young to make an impact?

Read about a baddie when you hear one.

Josina became a revolutionary at the riveting age of 13.

In 1945, Josina Abiathar Muthemba was born in Vilanculos, Inhambane, in the southern part of the country.

Her grandpa, a well-known preacher was vehemently committed to anti-colonialism activism, so you don’t have to look far to know where Josina may have gotten some of her inspiration from.

Although Mozambique’s population consisted of  98% Black Africans, only a small population of the Black children could receive a formal education.

Josina’s family were considered “assimilados”; Portuguese for assimilated. This was an arbitrary elevated ‘honorary’ white status which meant they could be afforded some social liberties, such as, Josina being able to receive an education within a Portuguese approved curriculum.

A precocious and self aware Josina knew the objectives of the colonialist education.

Observing the one-sided biased, and often false, Portuguese history being taught. Including the docility being ingrained into the children at such a young age.

Josina became active in the organization; Núcleo dos Estudantes Africanos Secundários de Mocambique (NESAM) at the age of 13. NESAM intended to promote a positive sense of cultural identity and positive education among Mozambican children. It was closely monitored by the Portuguese police, as it was the only avenue to discuss and study Mozambique in it’s own right, not supplementary to Portuguese history.

At age 18, Josina turned down a scholarship to Switzerland, fleeing to Tanzania to join FRELIMO. Unfortunately, she was unsuccessful and was caught 800 miles into the journey, alongside her comrades, by Portuguese authorities. The future President of Mozambique; Armando Guebuza was also among the 8 captured by the authorities. Josina did a 6-month stint in prison before being released due to pressure from FRELIMO, shortly before her 19th birthday.

So what did Josina do knowing she was under surveillance by the Portuguese, you might ask?

She decided to flee yet again!

Cheers to a boss!

Josina accompanied with a couple other fellow students headed out on the 2000 mile journey to Dar es Salaam, enduring periods of time in refugee camps to evade Portuguese surveillance. Unbeknownst to them, informants provided the location of their whereabouts to the authorities and their journey almost came to an abrupt end yet again. However, Eduardo Mondlane the leader of FRELIMO and campaigning by the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and UN ensured the group of 18 students were allowed to enter Tanzania, Zambia and finally Dar es Salaam.

This journey alone is a testament to Josina Abiathar Muthemba’s impeccable lion heart.

it was in Dar es Salaam Josina received military training for 3 months. Subsequently becoming the Head of the Women’s Section in FRELIMO’s Department of International Relations at the age of 24. Josina traveled miles to speak to different groups of women regarding indigenous culture, women’s rights and equal women’s participation in political, economical and social life.

She saw a need for health centers, schools and childcare provision with liberated areas in Mozambique (after the start of the war of independence in 1964) for the wounded and traumatized victims, soldiers, and children who had become orphans.

She stressed the need to send girls to school and support their education. Reports vary between liver cancer and leukemia, but on April 7th, 1971 Josina passed away, 4 years before she could witness a movement she arguably spearheaded; Mozambique getting their independence from the colonizing Portuguese in 1975. On the first anniversary after her death, April 7th was declared National Women’s Day to honor the sacrifices she made for Mozambican Independence.

Note to self:

You are never too young nor too old to make an impact. You simply need the will to keep trying.

“The colonialists wanted to deceive us with their teaching; they taught us only the history of Portugal, the geography of Portugal; they wanted to form in us a passive mentality, to make us resigned to their domination. We couldn’t react openly, but we were aware of their lie; we knew that what they said was false; that we were Mozambicans and we could never be Portuguese.”

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