Samora Moisés Machel was born in 1933 in the village of Chilembene, Mozambique, to a poor family. He studied in Catholic school but eventually begun to work against Portuguese colonial rule. 1962 Machel joined left-wing Frelimo guerilla movement and received military training. He became leader of Frelimo on 1968. On 1969 he became its president.
Mozambique became independent in the aftermath of Portugal military coup in 1974. Frelimo took over in Mozambique in June 25 1975. Machel became the president. He advocated the formation of society based on Marxist ideals.
Machel had to face economical troubles and side effects of the Rhodesian civil war. Mozambique was economically dependent of South Africa with its hostile Apartheid government and had to fight Renamo guerilla movement they supported. Soviet economic aid was sporadic. At the same time he supported African National Congress and allowed South African and Rhodesian rebels train in Mozambique. He remained a popular ruler.
On October 19 1989 Machel was on his way back from an international meeting in Lusaka in Tupolev 134 plane when the plane crashed into the hillside in Lebombo Mountains. 10 people survived but Machel and 33 others died, some of them members of his government. Accident was attributed to the error of Russian pilot but there has been speculation of complicity of South African security forces and that the plane had been intentionally diverted by a false navigational beacon signal.
Machel's successor was Joaquim Chissano.