Childhood & Early Life
This leader was born on the 22nd of October, 1939 in a village called Malehice, located at the Gaza Province, in Mozambique.
Even though most Mozambicans of his times led a poor life, Chissano was fortunate enough to complete his schooling from reputed institutions such as ‘Tai-Xai’ and ‘Liceu Salazar’ in Maputo (Lourenco Marques then). He was one among the first few Black students to have graduated from ‘Liceu Salazar’.
He moved to Portugal to pursue his study in medicine. However, his association with politics forced him to leave the nation and move to France. Later, his political inclinations led him to Tanzania, where exiled Mozambicans took refuge.
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He was initially a follower of ‘Nucleus of Mozambican African Secondary Students’ (NESAM), a discussion group founded by the political activist Eduardo Chivambo Mondlane, and even went on to become its president during the year 1960.
In 1961, the ‘National Union of Mozambican Students’ (UNEMO) was founded by him, under the guidance of his mentor Mondlane. It was a group which tried to draw the attention of foreign sympathizers towards the depleted condition of the Mozambicans. A year later, he started the group ‘Front for the Liberation of Mozambique’ (FRELIMO).
He was appointed the minister of defence in the year 1964, and resumed the position for a decade. During the same time, this leader was also the representative of the group ‘FRELIMO’ in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
This prominent figure played a vital role in the negotiation of the ‘Lusaka Accord’ in 1974, which paved way for Mozambique’s independence. Later, he was appointed the prime minister of the transitional government of Mozambique.
The following year, Samora Machel, the new president, chose him as the first foreign minister of independent Mozambique.
This political leader served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mozambique while ‘FRELIMO’ head Machel resumed office as the president.
In November 1986, this Mozambican leader was elected as the President of Mozambique, after his predecessor Machel’s aircraft met with an unfortunate accident.
In 1992, a peace treaty was negotiated by him with the rebel force ‘Renamo’, thus, putting an end to the Mozambican Civil War which had existed for sixteen years.
This influential leader brought in a new Constitution, which facilitated multi-party elections, and in 1994, the first multi-party election was held in Mozambique. Chissano emerged the winner of this unique political contest.
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This new President turned the wheels of fortune of Mozambique, and transformed it from a depleted country into a flourishing democracy. During his presidency, around 15% of the country's poverty was eradicated.
This politician was re-elected as the president of Mozambique in 1999, and remained the president for two consecutive terms.
In 2001, he declared that he would not contest the next presidential elections, although the constitution granted him the permission.
Chissano was the Chairperson of the ‘African Union’ during the period 2003-05, and at the same time he headed the ‘Southern African Development Community’ (SADC).
He retained his office as the president of Mozambique till 2nd February 2005. He was also appointed the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces during this period.
This leader was appointed the Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for the 2005 Summit, where he was asked to Review the Implementation of the Millennium Declaration.
Later, he was appointed the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General to Guinea-Bissau, located in the Democratic Republic of Congo and to the areas affected by the LRA (Lord's Resistance Army) insurgency in Uganda. This political leader was also the ‘SADC’ Mediator for Madagascar from June 2009.
Currently, he is the Chair-person of the ‘Joaquim Chissano Foundation’ and the ‘Forum of Former African Heads of State and Government’. He is also one among the Board of Directors of ‘African Rainbow Minerals’ (ARM) and ‘Harmony Gold’, South Africa since May 2005.
This former president is also associated with organizations such as the ‘Fondation Chirac’, ‘Advisory Panel for Global Development at the Melinda & Gates Foundation’, ‘Advisory Council of the World Food Prize Foundation’, ‘UNCTAD Panel of Eminent Persons’, ‘High-Level Taskforce for the International Conference on Population and Development’ (ICPD) and the ‘High Level Taskforce for the Climate Services at the World Meteorology Organization’.
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This leader is also an active member of associations such as the ‘The Hunger Project’, ‘Peace Parks Foundation’, ‘International Crisis Group’, ‘CPLP’ (Portuguese Spoken Countries Community) ‘Club of Madrid’ and the ‘Global Partnership Youth Ambassador’.
Awards and Achievements
In 1993, he was conferred with an honorary degree from the ‘Maharishi Vedic University’ in MERU (Maharishi European Research University), Holland.
The ‘Africa Prize Laureate’ was shared by Chissano and Joyce Banda, Founder, ‘National Association of Business Women’ of Malawi in 1997.
In 2007, he was awarded the ‘Mo Ibrahim Prize’ for ‘Achievement in African Leadership’ by Kofi Annan, the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations. It acknowledges his endeavours within his country, and beyond the borders.
On 4th November 2013, the ‘Joaquim Chissano Wildlife Preservation Initiative in Mozambique’ was launched at the Joaquim Chissano International Conference Centre, Maputo.
Personal Life & Legacy
Marcelina Rafael is the better half of the Mozambican political leader. They had been blessed with four children, but their eldest son, Nyimpine, met with an early death.
The former Mozambican president has a strong grip on English, French, Portuguese and Swahili and he communicates effortlessly in these languages.
He acquired the knowledge of the Transcendental Meditation technique. This is a kind of mantra meditation formulated by the Indian Saint Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Joaquim practised it regularly, and also acquainted some government officials and their families about it.