Northern Coast of Mozambique
The Mwani live on a 200-mile long strip of the coast of northern Mozambique; one third of them live in the city of Moçimbao da Praia. Mwani literally means “beach,” and life is tied to the ocean. Influenced by sea-faring Arab merchants centuries ago, the culture is defined through fishing and folk Islam.
The Mwani value peace and harmony, relationships and family bonds, and they respect the elderly. They fear dying and not getting a proper funeral. Polygamy is common in this matrilineal society. Divorce is common and many women have been married several times, so family units are difficult to discern. Children go to Madrassa schools, and although they memorize and can recite the Koran, they don’t understand its meaning. Most Mwani are illiterate in the Kimwani language and speak only a bit of Portuguese.
They have an awareness of God (Mwenyezimungu) and are very aware of the supernatural world, believing in spirits and magic and fearing demons. Though fiercely Islamic in name, their worldview is strongly influenced by the animistic world of ancestors and the use of mediums such as witchdoctors. Women are more connected to the spirit world, holding “punge” (séances) which can last all night. Many ceremonies are tied up with protecting the rice harvest from demons. The witchdoctor is paid to protect the boundaries of the rice paddy with beads, bottles, cloths and bones.
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As infrastructure development slowly comes to Northern Mozambique, new villages are introduced to the miracle of electricity. AIM works to bring spiritual light to the Mwani people through the ministry of Radio Nuru (Radio Light).
Reaching the Mwani people, an unreached group in Northern, coastal Mozambique
The young Mwani church has gone through similar trials. The worries of the world and the daunting bonds of culture have pounded the burgeoning yet vulnerable body of believers.