Two days ago, my class met on campus for our first seminar since returning from Mozambique. We all had giant smiles on our faces. Although we, at times, got frustrated and annoyed with each other during the trip (C’mon…Is it possible not to after spending 14 consecutive days together?), upon returning, there was definitely a different element of understanding among us. We all experienced a closeness classmates and faculty members in regular school settings just do not get. Our initial discussion was based on the best parts of the trip and areas that could use improvement. As we continued to talk, however, the discussion turned toward an even more meaningful reflection as we tried thinking of ways to present our experience to individuals outside of our class at Wayne State and to the greater Detroit community. As we discovered, this was a pretty difficult task. How does one (actually, how do more than a dozen people) capture and present such an experience to accurately and fully portray what we learned and saw? Personally, since returning from Mozambique, not a day has gone by without individual reflections of all I observed. In fact, I think it’d be impossible for anyone who went not to think – almost on a constant basis – about the experience and ponder what to do with the information gathered.
So, the task for this week is to do just that…begin analyzing what we studied in Mozambique. The undertaking is to reflect on the group project based on Culture & Religion and relate it to an overall perspective of the theme of democracy in Mozambique.
My group had the opportunity to meet with several influential people within cultural and religious groups. These included, among others, an evangelical pastor; Nazareth, a traditional healer; Dr. Cabula, another traditional healer; Zionist church members; Dinis Matsolo, Reverend of the Methodist Church; Bishop Sengulane of the Anglican Church. Each individual, unsurprisingly, contributed different perspectives on religion, culture and democracy. Overall themes, however, were apparent. It appeared the formal, institutional religions did not officially recognize or support any particular party, although they all claimed to encourage electoral participation and voting. As Bishop Sengulane put it, “Good Anglicans must be good citizens, and good citizens must vote.” The evangelical pastor, in fact, said he routinely encourages political participation in his messages to his congregation each week.
When visiting those who exercise traditional practices, however, support undoubtedly leaned toward the ruling party. Traditional healer, Dr. Capula, for example, recalled tragic memories from the civil war and how he still relates horrific events to the opposition party. When speaking with Zionist church members who performed spiritual and cleansing rituals, each individual’s support for Frelimo was also clear. The group members proudly held up their ink-covered fingers to display the importance of voting for the ruling party, which served as their savior during colonization. Below are images from our experience with these members:
Members also felt the current government was providing enough support, as they were affiliated with the Council of Churches run through it. Regardless of all the different beliefs we heard, each individual said he or she prays for spiritual guidance in who to support and vote for, displaying that religion and politics are, indeed, intertwined.