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:
With the aftermath of Civil War still looming in Northern Mozambique, it took a coalition of troops from SADC as well as Rwanda, the US, and other countries to drive insurgents away from the larger cities. So far, they are fleeing into the jungle and skirmishes have been rather small. There are a lot of talks about rebuilding the nation but this is a highly sensitive issue. Pray with us for peace and for the government to prioritize developing and training Mozambicans.
Our friends are already worrying about food scarcity during the rainy season. Pray that they would stay focused on gratitude and would know hope that is far more dependable than the weather.
All of our neighbors have small gardens in their yards, and we have been able to share seeds with them. Please pray that God will continue to multiply the harvests here both in terms of food and in people’s hearts. We believe that He supplies every need.
Journey to the northern coast of Mozambique. Learn what it means to be a Mwani.