Graça Machel: Honouring the 1st Lady of 2 Countries and Beloved Wife to Madiba

Graça Machel: Honouring the 1st Lady of 2 Countries and Beloved Wife to Madiba

Graça Machel is the only woman to have been the First Lady of two countries and her humanitarian work has continued on long after the passing of her late husband Nelson Mandela.

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Graça Machel, honouring, first lady, 2 countries, wife to Madiba
Graça Machel awaits the arrival of Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. Image: Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage
Source: Getty Images

Machel's decades-long career in politics is rooted in the struggle for independence in Mozambique as well as her advocacy for the rights of both children and woman. Briefly News decided to honour Machel by taking a look at her life, career and the work she does.

The beginning of the life of a legend born just three weeks after her father's death

The African stateswoman was born on 17 October 1945, just 17 days after her father died. Machel is the youngest of six children and before her father's passing he made sure that her siblings knew that she needed to finish high school.

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She was born in Gaza, Mozambique and was able to start her tertiary education in Lisbon, Portugal thanks to a church-based scholarship, according to SA History Online.

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Machel's political activities resulted in the end of her studying

In 1968, Machel attended Lisbon University with the intention to major in Languages. Unfortunately, she had to flee to Switzerland and abandon her tertiary studies as she was being watched by the secret police in Portugal.

Reports state that Machel avoided a prison sentence that could have held her for years due to her political activites.

Machel's freedom fighting and marriage to Samora Machel

While in Europe, Machel joined the Mozambican Liberation Front (FRELIMO) in an attempt to help free Mozambique from the Portugese rule. After leaving Europe, she arrived in Tanzania where she underwent military training.

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There she spent time in Cabo Delgado Province and was able to meet her first husband, Samora Machel. A 2018 report by IOL revealed that she still lauds her former husband as a hero who 'touched everybody's life'.

Machel's dedication to educating the youth keeps her in the hearts of many

The 76-year-old is highly acknowledged for her determination to ensure the people of Mozambique were educated. Machel is known to be a force in growing the schooling and literacy in her home country.

She was made Minister for Education and Culture in 1975 but stepped down from her position in 1986 after her husband mysteriously died in a plane crash. When she started in the position, just 400 000 kids were in school. By the time she left, 1.5 million children were enrolled in a school.

Graça Machel, honouring, first lady, 2 countries, wife to Madiba
Graça Machel and her late husband struggle icon Nelson Mandela at her graduation from the University fo Essex. Image: Sion Touhig/Sygma/Sygma
Source: Getty Images

The romance that sparked between South African freedom fighter Nelson Mandela and Graça Machel

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18 July 1998 saw the celebrated joining of Machel and Nelson Mandela in marriage. Machel caught the attention of the then recently released and upcoming president in Mozambique in 1945 during a quick engagement. Their paths would later cross again in 1993 when Mandela entered into the lives of Samora Machel's children.

Machel has commented in past interviews regarding the nature of their relationship. Expressing the importance of companionship while rejecting any issue with regards to the 27 year age gap between them, this is according to The Guardian.

International recognition for achievements in various sectors

In 1992 and 1995, Machel won the Laureate of Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger from the Hunger Project and the Nansen Medal respectively. She obtained the Inter Pres Service's International Achievement Award for her work with and for children.

She also managed to bag the North-South Prize of the Council of Europe and the Africare Distinguished Humantarian Service Award.

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Machel's humanitarian work and love for people

The stateswomn has served on the board of the UN Foundation, African Leadership Forum, Inerational Crisis Group and the Forum of African Woman Educationalists. She is currently the Chancellor of the University of Cape Town, Chair of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization Fund and a Panel Member for the African Peer Review Mechanism.

She has also started three NGO's. Machel founded and is the president of the Foundation for Community Development and the Zizile Insitute for Child Development..

In 2010, she founded a self-named trust which focuses on advocating for women's financial empowerment and economic, food nutrition and security and education for everyone, says nelsonmandela.org.

Graça Machel, honouring, first lady, 2 countries, wife to Madiba
Machel speaks after receiving the "Diamonds Do Good" Global Humanitarian Award. Image: Bryan Steffy/Getty Images for Diamond Empowerment Fund
Source: Getty Images

Recognition by Queen Elizabeth II

Machel was made an honorary Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1997 as she dedicated her life to assisting women and children and inspiring hope in the hopeless.

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Graça Machel's work in recent years

As recently as June 2021, Machel stated that solidarity as a globe which was brought upon by the Covid 19 pandemic has disappeared and she blames vaccines. Machel was speaking before the G7 Summit, reports The Guardian, where she made calls for richer nations to assist others with taking on the climate crisis.

Her words on Covid 19 have stung deep for many

As a prominent politician, Machel's words ring deep within the hearts and lives of many. She was recently quoted saying that there would be no safety on Earth if everyone is not vaccinated. Machel explained that it is a matter of survival and necessary steps have to be taken to ensure everyone gets the vaccine.

Machel is a powerhouse who will continue to write history

"Preventing the conflicts of tomorrow means changing the mind-set of the youth today"

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The above is one Machel's most famous quotes and is something to remember no matter where you are today.

Photo shows Ma Winnie carrying water in high heels, SA has mixed reactions

In other news about powerhouse women, Briefly News previously reported that a vintage picture of Ma Winnie Mandela caused a stir online. In the snap, the fashion-forward struggle icon appears to be fetching water while decked out in a pair of black leather boots.

The high-heeled platforms are definitely a timeless fashion staple and Ma Winnie looked comfortable as ever carrying the heavy bucket of water. Heading online, @LeighMathys first shared the throwback snap.

"So Ma Winnie rocked heeled boots even when carrying water," he captioned the post.

South Africans were certainly inspired by Ma Winnie's ability to keep her striking fashion sensibility while doing an everyday chore. Many felt the pic just proved what an exceptional woman Ma Winnie was.

Source: Briefly.co.za

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