The Mwani of Mozambique
Pray for the Mwani of Mozambique. They are fishermen, living along the coast of Northern Mozambique. Mwani means ‘beach’ and their lives revolve around the shore. They are Folk Muslims, following Islam while also fearing the spirits and believing in magic.
Jesus said “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up a the last day.” John 6:40. Pray that many Mwani would look to the Son and believe!
Location and Background: The Mwani live on a 200 mile long strip of the coast of N. 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.
History: Mwani tradition states that about 1,100 years ago Arab traders came down the east coast of Africa to take slaves. Entire groups became Muslim because the Arabs, being Muslim, were not allowed to take other Muslims as slaves. For this reason, the Mwani became Muslim as well.
Culture: The Mwani value peace and harmony. They value relationships and family bonds and 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. “Radio Nuru” is a Christian FM radio station in Kimwani.
Religion: 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.
Latest Prayer Updates:
The gospel is being shared across Mwani as audio Bibles are distributed, the Jesus Film is shown, and two Mwani believers testify to their faith in Christ. Pray for continued wisdom and guidance as they bring the Good News to more and more Mwani. Also, they’ve been given the freedom to minister in a predominantly Muslim refugee camp: pray that as they talk about Jesus that many will be drawn in by his love, grace and faithfulness.
This is the testimony of Brother S., one of the first converts among the Mwanis, on a visit we made to a refugee resettlement camp with about 15,000 people. On the way to the camp, we were praying and had a fair amount of fear of how these Mwani refugees would receive us. When we arrived, we asked for permission from the government representative to be able to enter and he told us that we should talk to the camp leader, a man we already knew. This man is a Muslim who years and years ago had prevented the name of Christ from being announced in his village… When we arrived to talk at the camp, we said “we have no bread to offer, but we want to talk about an eternal hope that is Insa Almasihi” and to our surprise (and little faith), this Islamic chief said that we can have full access to the refugee camp to share Jesus Christ. He said that those who want to learn about Insa and follow him are free to do so. It is incredible to see God using the most difficult circumstances, including a war, so that His name can be known and glorified among those who have never heard of Jesus. “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever!” (Rom. 11:36) We remain involved in discipling and evangelizing these refugees. We continue to deliver humanitarian aid (food, construction of houses, etc.), provide basic health care and distribute Audio Bibles. It has been a privilege to organize Bible studies which has allowed relationships to be built and flourish. Amidst all this, and through the utter grace of God, a Mwani church has been born!
Journey to the northern coast of Mozambique. Learn what it means to be a Mwani.