Who are the Mwani people?
The Mwani live along the coast of northern Mozambique. Influenced by sea-faring Arab merchants centuries ago, their culture is defined through fishing and folk Islam. ‘Mwani’ literally means ‘beach’ and life is tied to the ocean. Most Mwani are very poor. Those who don’t make their living through fishing do it by transporting people by sea as well as through trading, baking, and some farming. They value peace, harmony, relationships and family bonds, and they respect the elderly. However, divorce and polygamy is common and many women have been married several times, so family units are difficult to discern.
What do they believe?
They have an awareness of God 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.
What is being done to reach them?
Most Mwani are illiterate in the Kimwani language and speak only a bit of Portuguese but many love to listen to ‘Radio Nuru’ a Christian FM radio station broadcasting in Kimwani. Various teams have gone to the Mwani to reach them with the gospel.