The son of farmers, Samora Machel was born in the village of Madragoa (now Chilembene), in Portuguese East Africa (now Mozambique). Machel’s father was well-to-do (by the standards of indigenous farmers under Portuguese rule), and young Samora would study nursing, eventually becoming a medical aide in a hospital. But like many, he chafed under Portuguese rule, and eventually left the hospital to join the revolutionary movement in Dar Es Salaam.
Through the course of the long guerrilla war that was the Sixties in Mozambique, Samora Machel rose through the ranks of the Marxist-Leninist Mozambique Liberation Front or FRELIMO, also known as the Mozambique Liberation Front. By 1969, he was their leader, and led them to a negotiated independence from Portugal as the new state of Mozambique in 1975. He then served as his country’s first President until his death in 1986.