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Dancing their Dreams

The Lakeshore Nyanja Women of the Anglican Diocese of Niassa

by Helen E.P. Koevering

Dancing their Dreams is rooted in theological reflection and missionary perspectives on the lives of the Nyanja women in Niassa province, Northern Mozambique, and on the Anglican Diocese of Niassa in central and southern Mozambique and on the Zimbabwean border. As such it offers a much wider critique of the impacts of the devastation of the war – social, economic, moral, psychological and theological, of the position of women in Mozambique and of the women’s situation in relation to theology elsewhere in Africa.

The author describes the purpose of her exploration as ‘seeking to understand another culture, another world-view, another way of being’. Borrowing and feminising the dream metaphor used about Mozambique by writer Mia Coûto: ‘Faced by an absence of everything, women abstain from dreams, depriving themselves of the desire to be others’, she describes how the Nyanja women, a matrilineal group, have been isolated from the world through internal war and poverty, national neglect and limited international interest. She understands their situations in relation to Coûto’s stories about the absurdity and suffering of poverty-bound lives, which became accustomed to the existence of extreme violence and pain during the wars of the last three decades; the most harrowing thing about their poverty being ‘the ignorance it has of itself’. One conclusion is that the Nyanja women, Mozambique and the wider world cannot come to terms with the social and moral trauma and disintegration of Mozambique through technical and economic aid alone; and that Mozambique requires compassion and radical change that may find inspiration in theology, and the necessary strength of resistance and articulation in art forms such as dance.

ISBN 9789990876215 | 184 pages | 216 x 140 mm | Maps | 2005 | Kachere Series, Malawi | Paperback

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