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:

Beautifully-written, with fascinating insight into the recent history of Mozambique. Sarah LeFanu's coverage of Samora Machel is even-handed. He emerges as a gifted, good, and charismatic man motivated by the principles of social justice and a form of nationalism that cuts across color, race, and tribe. Yet she also portrays Machel as a human being, flawed at times by contradictions and failures, and explores the mythology around his significance and legacy and that of Josina, his freedom fighter wife before her untimely death. A brilliant book.

(Susan Williams, author of Who Killed Hammarskjöld?: The UN, The Cold War, and White Supremacy in Africa)

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