Guest Author - Lorraine E. Chavis
"It is the meaning of what my life has been since a youth -- to try to fight for the dignity and the freedom of my own people." Graça Simbine Machel Mandela.
Graça Simbine Machel Mandela went to university in Portugal on a scholarship and she credits that opportunity as a turning point in her life. She is an advocate for woman’s rights, education, children and community development. She believes education, diplomacy and action are the way to improving one’s quality of life. She is truly more than a conqueror. In the face of gender inequality issues and social economic disparities in her country she doesn’t allow herself to be dissuaded from her mission to in prove the live of women, children, Mozambicans and Africans in general.
Mandela believes in the rewards of education, self-respect and mentorship. She believes education leads to promotion. As the Minister of Education and Culture in Mozambique from 1975 to 1989 she was devoted to educating the youth. During her tenure she increased primary school enrollment from 40% to 90% for boys and 75% for girls. She regularly advised children on using their education to improve their communities. She is an excellent example for the women of Africa and woman worldwide for that matter.
In 1994 Graça Simbine Machel Mandela was appointed the chairperson of the First U.N. Report on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Children by UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali. She is the former First Lady of Mozambique and the former First Lady of South Africa as well as the first African to be named a British dame.
However, Graça Simbine Machel Mandela is more then the wife of Nelson Madela she is a historic figure in her own right. In the United States there is a push for women to claim the stance that they don’t need or want a man. Sometimes women may feel like any official connection to a man lowers and stagnates their vision for their own life. Graça Simbine Machel Mandela is not that woman. She has the strength and the poise to wear the title of wife with grace while still pursuing her mission for Mozambique, South Africa and Africa.
Graça Simbine Machel Mandela was married to Mozambique’s first president, Samora Moisés Machel (September 29, 1933 – October 19, 1986). Machel was president from 1975 until his death in a plane crash in 1986. Graca Machel, and many others don’t believe the crash was an accident. Graca Machel later married Nelson Mandela on his 80th birthday, in 1998. They travel between South Africa and Mozambique doing humanitarian work.
President of the Foundation for Community Development (FDC)
Laureate of Africa Prize
Inter Press Service’s International Achievement Award
Africare Distinguished Humanitarian Service Award
North-South Prize of the Council of Europe
Forum of African Women Educationalists
African Leadership Forum
International Crisis Group
Chair of the Fund Board for the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI)
Chancellor of the University of Cape Town
Peer of the African Peer Review Mechanism