Comrade President (SIFF 2013)

Brief Synopsis (see below for more): A well done and fairly thorough documentary on the role of Samora Machel in the liberation of Mozambique from Portuguese colonialism, and the ensuing political unrest as the newly free country attempted to find it’s place in Africa and the world.

What I learned: There was so much information in the documentary, I think I learned something in every frame. I am pretty naive to African political history, especially in this area (Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Tanzania), so I found myself paying very close attention in order to take it all in. It was inspiring to see a leader rallying his people not against race, but against racism and colonialism. His support of the fight against racism and apartheid in neighboring countries made Mozambique a target for retaliation attacks, and may have played a part in his untimely death. Though Machel was an inspiration to many, it was disconcerting to see his implementation of governmental unification policies that actually led to the suppression of individual freedoms in Mozambique. If he had lived to rule longer, I am curious if he would have ended up as a loved leader or a feared tyrant.

Provided Film Synopsis
Samora Moises Machel was raised in a Mozambique hindered by Portuguese colonialism. Using his tremendous charisma, Machel rose in the fight for independence to become a psychologically resourceful leader and a daring military strategist. Once independence was won, Machel and his communist ideology find themselves leading the fledgling country. But Mozambique needs friendly neighbors and Machel's opposition to racist Rhodesia and apartheid South Africa lend external funding to a Mozambican Civil War. After supporting Rhodesia's shift to independent Zimbabwe, Machel turns toward South Africa to fight apartheid with expectation that his Russian friends will back him up, but the collapse of communism leaves him without an ideology. Still backed by the popular support of his people and his government, Machel ultimately finds that he is staring down the beast of South African apartheid alone. Comrade President features unbelievable access to world leaders from all sides of the political and personal life of Samora Machel including Graça Machel (Samora's widow who is now married to Nelson Mandela), Dr. Kenneth Kaunda (President of Zambia), and even Afonso Dhlakama (leader of the Civil War opposition). Director Mosco Kamwendo expertly lays out Machel's narrative in such a way that it illuminates why people across Africa are still inspired by him and endorses why the world should know more about his passionate politics.

Movie Details

  • Directed By:

    • Mosco Kamwendo
  • Cast Members:

    • Afonso Dhlakama
    • Graça Machel
    • Kenneth Kaunda
    • Samora Machel
  • Countries:

    • Zimbabwe
  • Languages:

    • English
    • Portuguese
  • Genres:

    • Documentary
    • Show Me the World
    • Social Issues