Graca Machel was married to Samora Machel (1933-86), President of Mozambique from 1975 to 1986. President Machel was killed in a plane crash on 19 October 1986. On 18 July 1998 she married Nelson Mandela, President of South Africa, making her the first woman to be `First Lady’ of two different countries.
“It’s not two leaders who fell in love with me, but two real people. I feel privileged that I have shared my life with two such exceptional men” – Graça Machel
There has been spectacular and fascinating stories in Africa, and this is definitely one of them. Meet the only woman to have become the First Lady of two different countries. These countries are Mozambique and South Africa. Graça married two different democratically elected African leaders at different times.
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Graça Simbine was born 17 days after her father’s death, the youngest of six children in rural Incadine, Gaza Province, Portuguese East Africa (modern-day Mozambique). She attended Methodist mission schools before gaining a scholarship to the University of Lisbon in Portugal, where she studied German and first became involved in independence issues.
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Simbine returned to Portuguese East Africa in 1973, joining the Mozambican Liberation Front (Frelimo) and working as a school teacher.
Due to Surveillance from the Portuguese secret police, she was forced to abandon her education and fled to Switzerland. In 1973, she returned to Tanzania and joined the FRELIMO where she met her first husband, Samora Machel – the first president of Mozambique.
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Following Mozambique’s independence in 1975, Simbine was appointed Minister for Education and Culture. She married Mozambican first President Samora Machel that same year, changing her last name to Machel. On June 25, 1975, Mozambique gained independence and Samora Machel was made the first president of the new country.
Simbine married Samora Machel, the first President of Mozambique, in 1975. Together they had two children, daughter Josina (born April 1976) and son Malengane (born December 1978). Samora Machel died in office in 1986 when his presidential aircraft crashed near the Mozambique-South Africa border.
Graça Machel Mandela married her second husband, Nelson Mandela, in Johannesburg on 18 July 1998, Mandela‘s 80th birthday. At the time, Mandela was serving as the first post-apartheid president of South Africa. Mandela died of pneumonia on 5 December 2013.