On July 27, 2015, the International School Network visited the Embassy of Mozambique to interview the Ambassador, His Excellency Mr. Belmiro José Malate.
Portuguese being the official language of Mozambique, is also the main language for teaching. English is taught from the seventh grade as neighboring countries (aside from Madagascar) all speak the language. More than thirty languages are being spoken in Madagascar, however most people speak Portuguese.
Education in Mozambique is compulsory and primary education is free of charge. The challenge the Mozambican people face today is the lack of schools for all students to be able to attend. The government is making an effort so that all children can enroll to schools. To make this action in full effect, the Mozambican government is cooperating with the government of Japan for support in infrastructure and training teachers.
Mozambique has a very temperate climate, being generally tropical. There is a wet and dry season in Mozambique. The wet season takes place during October to March, with an abundance of rainfall. The dry season takes place during the winter time. Winters in Mozambique are hot during the day and cold in the evening. There is a large variation of temperatures during one day. It is only near the Niassa prefecture where the winters get very cold.
Mozambique has the third largest bay in the world, home to many different types of marine animals. Examples of fish in Mozambique include tuna, eel, shellfish, clams, sharks, and dolphins.
On July 1, 2015, the Sendai Museum opened to exhibit Mozambican fish in Japan.
Preserving nature is a very important part of the culture of the people in Mozambique, as they are aware that they depend on nature. For example, people use dried wood from dry trees for fire fuel instead of wood from living trees. Mozambican people also plant many new trees, especially trees that produce fruit. The Ministry of environmental issues in Mozambique is working to preserve nature by introducing policies and strategies. One example of this is when a project is to be started, such as building a factory, the environmental impacts and precautions must be studied beforehand. There are conservation pacts for both the marine life and the forest. In this way, there is a large interaction between the people and government to preserve nature.
The name “Mozambique” derived from Mozambique Island, the former capital of the nation. There are many beautiful tourist destinations in Mozambique. Colonial buildings and castles that were built during the 16-17th century allure many tourists from all over the world. The oldest catholic church in Eastern Africa is located in Mozambique Island. The fortress wall of São Sebastião is a very beautiful world heritage site. The Mozambique Island bridge connects the island to the mainland and it is almost 5 kilometers long.
Culture + Globalization/Preserving tradition (Madoka)
With more than 30 different tribes home to Mozambique, the culture is very diversified. Each ethnic group has their own specific values and rituals. There are different rituals done when a child is born and when a girl matures. One celebration done during the planting season after the rainy season symbolizes the support requested from ancestors. During marriage, there is a tradition where the groom gives a present to the bride’s parents.
In Mozambique, both patrilineal and maternal societies exist, where the man or woman is the head of the family. In some places, men move to their wife’s house when they marry, and the wife has the rights of the children.
The traditional clothing for women in Mozamique is the capulana, which is a colorful sarong. Women in some tribes also wear a traditional white cosmetic on their faces, which is said to soften their skin.
H.E. Mr. Malate commented that Mozambique is greatly influenced by globalization. Many television shows exist in the country sowing different cultures from around the world. The people in Mozambique work towards preserving tradition and cultures by transmitting cultural expressions to their younger generations and by teaching them at schools.
Mozambique is a nation rich in seafood. As a result, fishes are been eaten regularly by the Mozambican people. This is very similar to Japan, however unlike Japanese people, the people of Mozambique determines corn as their stable food. Although rice is eaten widely throughout the nation and being produced a lot in the Zambezia province as well as in the Nampula province and the Gaza province, they have a local dish in which they eat dry fish with corn. To prevent food poisoning from river fishes, the government is making an effort of teaching the Mozambican people to cook fishes rather than to eat raw fishes. Corn is commonly made into porridge and also eaten with different curries that often contain cabbage, leaves of sweet potatoes, peanuts, groundnuts, and coconut milk.
Because of the fact that Mozambique was a former colony of Portugal, there are Portuguese influences in the way of preparing food. For example, shrimp is cooked with lemon, butter, and sauce. Piri-piri chicken, a famous dish in Mozambique has also been introduced by the Portuguese settlers. H.E. Mr. Malate stated that there are some Arab influences in addition to the Portuguese as they were one of the first ones to take contact with Mozambique.
Mozambique is known for the its music that use instruments like the Marimba. It is particularly well-known for the Mbila made of special wood from diffrenet trees. Mbila has eight notes and its resonance causes the instrument to make sounds. Mozambican people often make orchestras consisting of mbila players. The orchestra is usually divided into three groups, a group which plays the low-pitched notes, middle-pitched notes, and the high-pitched notes. During our interview, H.E. Mr. Malate showed us a video of the Bantu Group Mbila Orchestra's performance.
Gender Equality (Kurumi)
H.E. Mr. Malate stated that gender equality is fair in Mozambique. The Mozambican Parliament is ranked 14 out of 145 countries for the women's representation quota and up until the year 2010, the country was run by Luisa Diogo, a female prime minister. There are no discriminations that act against females but rather, they have policies that particularly advantage females. There is a policy that 50% of Parliament must consist of females. Moreover, to help business women who gave birth to children, there is a 60 day maternity program which enables mothers to go home three hours prior to the end of working hour when a baby is born.
Relationship between Mozambique and Japan (Kurumi)
The Mozambique-Japan Relationship began way back in time. During the 16th Century, Yasuke, the first and only African Samurai came to Japan. There is a legend that he was from the Mozambique Island and that he came to Japan with a Catholic priest. Nobunaga Oda, the samurai daimyō warlord during the Warring States Period in Japan, became very good friends with Yasuke and soon began to fight enemies together. This could be considered as the first contact between the two nations.
In addition H.E. Mr. Malate told us about how during a time where Japan was suffering from a massive tsunami in Sendai, Japan had sent an invoice to Rome to ask for help from the Pope. However, the invoice had to stay in Mozambique for a while since the winds were not in favor.
The official Mozambique-Japan relationship began in 1979 where they established a peace-keeping operation. Today, Japan contributes to support Mozambique's development of health, infrastructure, food security, schools, global network, as well as promotion in trades (bananas, clams, beans etc.). There are currently nearly 50 Japanese volunteers in Mozambique to help at certain departments of the government and non-governmental organizations.
Ambassador Goals + World Peace views (Kurumi)
Since we are an organization which promote the greatness of countries around the world and one of our aims is to reduce internal boundaries between many countries as possible, we wondered what H.E. Mr. Malate believes to be the first step to world peace. He stated that it is to "promote understanding between the people." "People tend to get suspicious when they're in a situation where they don't understand. I believe that people can be diverse but still understand each other and live together in harmony," H.E. Mr. Malate stated.
When asked what his current goal as an ambassador is, H.E. Mr. Malate commented that his goal is "to make sure we (Mozambique and Japan) have a friendly relationship." He would like to make an effort in showing the strengths of Mozambique and promote economic relations to the Japanese market. He mentioned that he would also like to ensure benefit from the large experience through the relationship of the two nations. H.E. Mr. Malate believes that Japan is a country with economic strength, thus he said that he would "fight for and profit Mozambique" through his experiences in Japan.
Ambassador’s Message (Kurumi)
As for a message for the Japanese students reading Intl School Network, H.E. Mr. Malate spilled his desire of seeing contact between the students in Mozambique and the students in Japan. There are actually some Mozambican students who come to undergo their post-graduate studies in Japan, however he wishes to have more contacts between the two nations and have more exchanges in terms of programs. "I can see the initiative but this can increase. Youth in Japan can be an important group to promote relations between Mozambique and Japan. My message to you is to know more about Africa and interact with people living there," H.E. Mr. Malate commented.
Madoka Nishina 11th Saint Maur International School
Kate Shimizu 11th Seisen International School
Kurumi Onishi 10th Saint Maur International School
Karen Nishina 5th Saint Maur International School