S is for Samora: A Lexical Biography of Samora Machel and the Mozambican Dream (Columbia/Hurst)

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9780231703369: S is for Samora: A Lexical Biography of Samora Machel and the Mozambican Dream (Columbia/Hurst)
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In 1974, Samora Machel led FRELIMO, the Mozambican Liberation Front, to victory over the Portuguese colonial government. The following year, he became the first president of an independent Mozambique. Eleven years later, he was killed in a mysterious plane crash, and many have blamed his death on machinations by the South African government.

Drawing on stories, speeches, documents, and the memories of those who knew Machel well, this biography captures the many facets of a man Nelson Mandela has called "a true African revolutionary." Machel was trained as a nurse, yet later became a consummate military strategist. He was a farmer's son, yet possessed the diplomatic skills necessary to negotiate a relationship with China and the Soviet Union while winning over Western leaders like Margaret Thatcher. Machel was a man of the people who at the same time found himself utterly alone. A dedicated seeker of peace, he nevertheless never saw anything but war.

This volume takes stock of the discourse of equality, liberty, and comradeship that motivated the liberation struggles of Machel's people and other southern African communities in the 1960s and 1970s, all in the face of a dominant Cold War rhetoric. It meditates on the different languages through which the Mozambican dream was articulated, including the linguistic currencies of anti-colonialism, anti-racism, and Marxism-Leninism, while exploring the gaps between then and now, between Mozambicans and Western idealists who wanted to be part of Machel's new society, and between Mozambicans themselves.

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About the Author:

Sarah LeFanu is author of the acclaimed biography Rose Macaulay and of the award-winning In the Chinks of the World Machine: Feminism and Science Fiction. From 2004 to 2009, she was artistic director of the Bath Literature Festival and has been an R.L.F. Fellow at the University of Exeter. She teaches at the University of Bristol's Department for Lifelong Learning.

Review:

Whether you want to read from beginning to end or dip in, this A-to-Z of Samora Machel, the first president of Mozambique, is packed with history and many new and fascinating details. It should become a classic and could start a new trend.

(Richard Dowden, director of the Royal African Society, author of Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles )

This is an arresting and original 'biography' of Samora Machel. The Mozambican leader emerges as a complicated human being, combining an uncanny ability to relate to people with an implacable commitment to the construction of a new Mozambique. Mixing journalism, diary, and academic research, Sarah LeFanu offers one of the most wide-ranging accounts of Machel available to date. She provides gripping insight into the personal and political mix that made Machel the outstandingly successful leader he undoubtedly was.

(Patrick Chabal, King's College London)

Sarah LeFanu first visited Mozambique as a solidarity worker soon after its 1975 independence. Now, so many years later, she has returned to the subject. In a very personal way, S is for Samora combines what LeFanu sees today with the memory of what she experienced in the late 1970s. Vivid and clear-eyed, it tells the exciting story of the 'Birth of a Nation' -- a story that should be of interest to more than just those who have their own direct experience of Mozambique. Profoundly interesting and highly recommended.

(Henning Mankell, bestselling author and Maputo resident)

An important and readable rediscovery of Mozambique's revolutionary history.

(Joseph Hanlon, author of Do Bicycles Equal Development in Mozambique?)

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Sarah LeFanu
Published by Columbia University Press (2012)
ISBN 10: 0231703368 ISBN 13: 9780231703369
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