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Alba Iulia
Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Gracia Machel: ‘I am a Mozambican, Zambian, Zimbabwean, Malawian- borders were created by colonialists

Columns Gracia Machel: 'I am a Mozambican, Zambian, Zimbabwean, Malawian- borders were created...

gracia maCHEL

Nelson Mandela’s widow, Gracia Machel, has hit out at the South African government’s handling of the xenophobia crisis, suggesting it was playing down the scale of attacks on foreigners.

At the memorial service of Emmanuel Sithole, Gracia Machel said: “We may say that in 2008 we did not know [xenophobic attacks could occur]. Now in 2015, we can no longer say we do not know. Now we know how bad it can be. Our actions have to be proportional to the deep crisis we are going through.‘‘

Ms Machel described the recent violence as an “expression of self-hate which was inculcated by the system of apartheid”.She stressed that similar attacks would happen again unless countries throughout the region were able to provide better economic opportunities for their people.

“I stand before you as an African mother in pain. I am in pain, deep pain, because children of mine, Africans from Southern Africa, from Mozambique, are all in deep pain,” she said.

To loud applause from the crowd, Ms Machel, who is a former first lady of both South Africa and Mozambique, encouraged acceptance of all nationalities:

“I am eventually one of the most visible faces..I want to make it clear, I want to claim it clear and loud. I am a South African. I am Mozambique, I am Zambian, I am Zimbabwean. Swazi, Sotho, Tshwana, I belong to any of the nations, not all of Africa but more especially in Southern Africa…I have very deep bonds with families in each one of the countries I have mentioned…I know I feel I am at home.

“Migration is in our blood! The borders were created by colonisers. They mean nothing to us because we are one.”

Emmanuel Sithole (real name Manuel Jossias) , a Mozambican man whose violent death at the hands of a gang in a Johannesburg township was captured by a photographer and sparked outrage across Africa.The South African government has refused to add Mr Sithole’s death to the list of seven people it said had died in weeks of xenophobic violence.Jacob Zuma, the South African president, instead classified it as a “callous robbery”, adding that Mr Sithole was an illegal immigrant who used a false name to avoid detection by the authorities.

Mrs Machel rejected the claim, telling mourners at Mr Sithole’s memorial service: “Yes, these attacks are xenophobic and they have to be dealt with like that.”
Describing herself as “one of the most visible faces of a foreigner in South Africa”, she went on: “I want to say to Emmanuel: ‘I am sorry my son you had to hide your identity and adopt another for survival’.

“I want to say that you have become a symbol of what must not happen again. Your life was not wasted.” Her comments are likely to add fuel to claims that the government has “suppressed” the numbers of people killed in the anti-foreigner attacks that began in the coastal city of Durban at the beginning of this month.But other potential cases have been raised by doctors treating victims in hospitals and from accounts given by some of the thousands of foreigners driven into transit camps by the violence.

Gracia Machel said it was worrisome that in both 2008 and 2015 the most prominent victims of the xenophobic violence came from her native country, Mozambique.

Ernesto Alfabeto Nhamuave, a 35-year-old Mozambican, was burned alive during the xenophobic violence in Ekurhuleni in May 2008. Sithole was also Mozambican. The photographs of both men‘s deaths shocked the world.

Machel asked: “Why does it have to be always a Mozambican face to symbolise the pain of South Africans, Zimbabweans and Malawians?”

The causes of the attacks were “political, economic, social and even cultural”. She said: “It is up to our political leaders and business leaders to understand that if we do not create the political and economic opportunities that are going to allow any citizen of Southern Africa to feel at home anywhere, we will continue to have these kinds of situations.”

Machel said while the violence had been directed at foreigners, “tomorrow it will be against South Africans themselves”.

Johannesburg Mayor Parks Tau was among those who attended the memorial service in Alexandra‘s East Bank Hall.The City of Johannesburg and the SA Council of Churches will cover the cost of the repatriation of Sithole‘s remains.He will be buried in Mushungwe in Mozambique on Saturday.


    • I am African.. I have the right to live in any country i wanna live in.. every country has laws to accomodate people from any other country. South Africa included..

    • Why did you renounce your Zambian citizenship in the first place. Come back and we will give it back to you.

    • I am a world citizen or should i say earth citizen. Humans have always migrated in history. If early africans didnt migrate, the modern human would only be in Africa. Here in England people are migrating to Australia, this will free up space for who ever wants to come and live in the cold here.

    • Who is she?

      I hate nonentities trying to get some credence of any kind

      Go away Graca, she is talking nonsense


    • Out of context.

      Why do people who claim to be educated speak offside on matters of great importance and deserving an honest personal reflection?

      What an embarrassment!

  1. I am a Zambian crying for dual citizenship. My children carry a different nationality but the blood that streams in them is Zambian. Why borders- that is limitation. I am on a journey and I know no boundaries. I will go anywhere I want and nobody will stop me. To die is to live in Christ. Remember Lot´s wife she tried to protect her life but instead she lost it.

    • dual citizenship has nothing to do with your “imaginary friend ”

      Otherwise i hear you!!

      My whole family is in Zambia ie:

      My 92yrs old dad( Bisa) 77 yrs old mother (Bemba) + my 8 siblings and extended family…

      I have been away for 30 yrs.. ( all this while sending money back to Zambia) i now want to settle in Zambia, but I’m told that i should first bring 1/4 Million dollars to invest then i can have a residents permit.
      My children are half Zambian Half European, and they have been denied Zambian citizenships too…

    • @Krysst, the problem some of you have is that you were running away from Zambia and insulting your motherland and grabbing any opportuniy that presented itself to get citizenship. It didn’t matter whether it was Romania or Czechslovakia. Why did you just stay as a Zambia citizen but a permanent resident in that country. I also have a foreign wife, I have kept my Zambian citizenship and my wife has kept hers. You are safer that way. My children get Zambian citizenship. If anything, you can get back to Zambia or stay on wherever you are.


  3. …She is just a husband snatcher.

    First Lady Mozambique
    First Lady South Africa

    How did RB miss her? She could have been first lady Zambia too!!

  4. @Chanda Chilengu..

    Dimwit…that is all you see from such a sensible statement from our mother.

    Learn to talk sense and analyse issues before you vomit nonsense you crap…………….Shame

  5. Political boundaries are sacrosanct. It is illegal to cross borders without valid travel documents. To avoid inconvenience, then it is necessary to follow existing laws pertaining to movement of people and goods. Political union needs a solid economic platform and that is where each country has its own reponsibilities.

  6. I wholeheartedly agree with Mother Gracia, as I’m a non repentant Pan- Africanist!!
    Her husband Late Samora, was a beacon of how Africans with self esteem view themselves.
    The damage done by the Colonialists is still killing Africans like a Cancer, long after the Colonialist lost control of the continent, though they still have a stranglehold on us via economics.

  7. Mama Gracia, you have pulled no punches and said it as it should be said. We do not need to apologise for why we choose to live and work in other countries. Hope the politicians will listen. Fastward to year 2050 when SA dries up with the only sustainable fresh water sources are in Zambia and Congo. We will not let you die of thirst my brothers and sisters. But just remember that humanity is always in a state of flux and people will move from places where there is no food or water, where there are wars and famines to safer and better resourced havens. You can tighten immigration laws all you want but you can never stem or stop people from moving to anyplace on earth.

  8. This is what great leaders need to do confront issues head on! look the problem in the eye and say who are you saying ba mwisa?
    contrast that with what Zulu king said blame game, ‘is there a third force?’ no king just your bad advice. Then the presidents’ address, ‘why are people leaving their countries in the first place?’ Zuma can you ask that shuwa?
    Yet no one says, ‘but king tame your tongue!’ They would rather throw paint at a white mans statue and kill fellow blacks than say we have failed to manage the country!

  9. The Zulu Chief is like chief /thief ishindi of Zambezi district who is likely to cause bloodshed one day if not well checked.Dethrone the chap whose thinking appear not to be straight despite his night school education which is not helping him at all.

  10. Cry my beloved Africa: These challenges are real and require solutions. Out leaders, Cry my beloved Africa. From political, economic. Culture: the challenge before Africa is huge. We need to serious think about this great continent; it’s future – our children’s and the children our children. Let our people from the ends of this great continent unite against poverty, AIDS, Ebola Xenophobia etc let’s summon the spirit of our forefathers and deal with these challenges head on!!!

  11. ..ln this modern era xenophobia can never have any justification whether some one is an illegal immigrant or not…infact these are some of the words which must be removed from dictionary to create space to accommodate new user friendly words like ‘selfie’ etc..as an African not only must I feel free and safe living in any African country but also anywhere on Earth (legally ofcourse)..borders actually brought about sanit..imagine the world without borders..borders actually start from our homes, farms etc just to create a sense of belonging by an individual or group of people with common ‘denomination’ living under a common name, culture, tradition and identity…these days there is what we call citizen arrest..illegal immigrant like Sithole was just supposed to be handed to the…

    • ….dragged and handed over to the authority the same with identified criminals whether immigrant or indigenous….certainly not violence, burning and looting their property…..


  13. Ms Gracia Machel spoke a lot of sense from the heart, yet you find shallow people like Mushota exposing there foolishness. South Africa will be judged for all the innocent blood spilt in that country.

  14. hats off for ‘mama southern africa’, its time people knew our roots and how far those roots have spread.

  15. After all the emotions and memories have died down we will all go back to our tribalism and nationalism. Let us look at the spike in our own eyes and look critically at why we Africans are treating each other like this. Yes apartheid and colonialism have contributed to our own safe hate but we readily accepted the structures left behind and they are responsible for producing mass misery of unemployment and poverty, while the elite can afford to spend 23 million dollars on Inkhandla. That is the real issue but as a people we have failed to think out of the box and devise our own civilisation to cater for our people with our kind of history. we are just copy cats hence the misery!

    • Typical African. Burying your head in the sand when your bottom is exposed. I am happy where I am and I left your country because of people like you.

  16. Mrs. Machel, thank you for being a mother, wiser than Zuma and some illiterate South African government officials and murderers. What a shame of a nation. You know better than the ANC government that needs to be replaced.

  17. Imwe bantu please tap wisdom from people like Graca before she dies. Any of you who had listened to Samora Machel will know where this is coming from. These great leaders Julius Nyerere Kenneth Kaunda, abdel Nasser, Kwame Nkrumah tried to drive this continent towards unity. When they left the stage everything they did died. Graca knows what it is to be an African

  18. Yes all countries have rules of entry but those who abrogate such rules do not deserve that brutal killing we saw in the pictures.

    Each country has rules of dealing with illegal immigrants but not brutal killing.

  19. My mother is a Motswana (Mongwaketse) from Kanye and my father migrated from Nothern Rhodesia to Bechuanaland Protectorate in the 40’s. I was born and bred in Lobatse. I have the right to citizenship of both countries and anything that happens in either country and in the region affects me.

  20. Lets not make it difficult for zuma to handle the situation at hand….we are not orphans…lets show some pride….we once played the role of parent on south africa,let it go africa….

  21. @ mushota,
    You are very irritating these days.
    I don’t know what has entered you!
    Reform your mendula please




  23. Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.

    – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

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