Speech by President Nelson Mandela at the commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the death of President Samora Machel Mbuzini, 17 October 1996

TitleSpeech by President Nelson Mandela at the commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the death of President Samora Machel Mbuzini, 17 October 1996
CollectionNelson Rolihlahla Mandela
Date1996
Resource TypeSpeeches and Public Statements

Your excellency, President Joaquim Chissano;
Premier Matthews Phosa;
Cabinet Ministers;
Mrs. Graca Machel and members of the Machel family;
Distinguished guests;
Ladies and gentlemen,

We are gathered here on the soil of a liberated South Africa to pay homage to a universal hero, a son of Mozambique and indeed a son of Africa, who dedicated his life to the freedom of us all.

Ten years ago today, Samora Machel drenched the soil of our land with his blood. A tragedy had befallen Mozambique, South Africa, Africa and beyond.

Yet as we shed the tears of grief and disbelief, we knew that Samora had cemented a bond between our two peoples that no force could sever. He had made a final statement which fired us all with anew determination to free the sub-continent from the scourge of war and human suffering.

Certainty about the precise chain of events which robbed Africa of one of her greatest leaders, still eludes us.

We do now, though, that at that time savage wounds were being inflicted on our beloved Southern Africa by the apartheid war machine. No corner of the region was spared the cruelty and scorched earth barbarity of the defenders of this crime against humanity. No country that identified with the yearning of the South African people, no leader who expressed practical solidarity with them, was spared.

Today we recall Samora Machel's words that "solidarity is not charity, but mutual aid in pursuit of shared objectives". Thus, in acknowledging the terrible sacrifice of Mozambicans in our long walk to freedom, we do so proud of the fact that today, South Africans and Mozambicans, as free peoples, can together build a prosperous future.

The scale of Southern Africa's suffering through destablisation still has the capacity to shock us today - over a million lives lost;four million uprooted: and untold destruction of infrastructure and sabotage of development programmes.

In Samora Moises Machel the peoples of Mozambique and all of Southern Africa, had a leader of great intellect and courage, a general with strategic grasp and unwavering commitment to freedom and justice;a visionary for whom the interdependence of the countries and peoples of our region meant that none could enjoy freedom while some remained oppressed.

The shock and pain of his loss was deep and lasting.

There are unanswered questions along the journey that led to the loss of more than thirty lives on this hillside. And we shall leave no stone unturned to ensure that, in the fullness of time, nothing but the whole truth is known about these events.

What we do know with certainty, ten years later, is that apartheid has been destroyed;that South Africa has its freedom;and that the shadow of destablisation has been lifted. Within the framework of SADC, which Samora helped to create, a powerful engine for regional development is gathering pace. We are beginning to realise the vast potential which he insisted was there, to bring prosperity to our region and help fuel the African renaissance.

South Africa and Mozambique can now pursue shared objectives as partners for peace and prosperity. In the Maputo Corridor that runs through this area the benefits of co-operation are taking concrete shape.

Samora Machel's life was taken as the new society was struggling to life amidst the dying convulsions of the old. Our deepest regret is that he is not with us to give wise counsel and leadership in this our new challenge, to harness the creative potential and energies of our peoples.

We have gathered here at Mbuzini, close to the border between our two countries, to pay tribute to one whose life expressed the highest ideals of internationalism and universality.

As a tribute to a founding visionary of the new reality taking shape in our region, as a pledge of commitment to the ideals for which he stood, and so that future generations will learn of the sacrifices which opened the way, this site is now declared a National Monument.

That we are able to do this, in this manner today, owes much to the concerted efforts of government officials in partnership with cultural institutions and Inkosi Mlambo II: our congratulations to them a:-

A memorial will be erected at this site by our two Governments, to mourn our loss and to celebrate the life and vision of Samora Machel. This heralds a new era in which the pioneers of our new society are honoured as they should be.

It is our intention also to bestow on him posthumously, in Maputo on Saturday, the highest award with which our country honours citizens of other countries for their contribution to the people of South Africa.

These humble offerings are but a token of the esteem and the love which the people of South Africa cherish in their hearts for Samora Machel. They are also a symbol of the solidarity and partnership that he helped forge between our peoples.

But we know that, when all is said and done, the best tribute that we can pay Samora Machel and those who perished on that fateful day, is to eradicate poverty, illiteracy and disease, and to create prosperous societies whose ethos of justice and equity were the passion of Samora's life.

Together let us build a better Southern Africa!

Issued by: Office of the President