Graça Machel: ‘No thanks, no politics for me’

2014-06-29 15:00

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She may have been the first lady of two countries, but she does not want to be the first citizen of any.

“No, no, no and no,” she says to the question of whether she will run for president in Mozambique, from where she hails.

“I have no appetite for political activism and I’m happy doing what I do,” says Graça Machel, who served as a Cabinet minister for education and culture in her first husband Samora Machel’s revolutionary government after independence.

Now out of formal mourning, Machel will devote her time to child rights and securing a final legacy institution for her husband, the late Nelson Mandela?– that’s the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital which broke ground recently, but is far off its funding target.

Tomorrow, Machel chairs a global Partnership for Maternal Newborn and Child Health Partners’ Forum. She has chosen to campaign primarily against child marriages, a phenomenon afflicting young girls across the developing world.

“Child marriage is not an issue in itself, but will change the way families and societies value a girl,” she says. She will work from Johannesburg and Maputo through her Graça Machel Trust.

She and Mandela forged political solidarity through activism for children. Next week, Machel will deliver the annual lecture of the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection on the topic, For the nation to live, the tribe must die.

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