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February 26 2014

Mozambican Tech Woman Talks Local Impact of Social Networks

This Portuguese-language interview was originally published by the Mozambican citizen media platform Olho do Cidadão (Eye of the Citizen) on July 10 2013. 

Ludmila Maguni (@_mwaa_ no Twitter e Instagram)

Ludmila Maguni (@_mwaa_ on Twitter and Instagram)

At a time when more and more Mozambicans are utilising the Internet as a way to show the world their local reality, as well as to share with their locality what is happening in the world, we spoke with Ludmila Maguni, an influential Mozambican on Twitter, who speaks about the impact that social networks are having on Mozambican society.

It is estimated that just 4.8 percent of the 25 million Mozambicans have Internet access, according to 2012 data. In Mozambique, the Internet and social networks provide a space for greater openness of expression. In terms of press freedom, the country was placed at number 73 in the report published by the Reporters Without Borders organisation in 2013 (the recently launched 2014′s report puts the country six places down, at 79).

Ludmila is the head of the Department of Information Systems of the Ministry of Science and Technology in Mozambique. But just like the majority of Mozambicans with access to the Internet, she uses the web for information, socialising and entertainment. On Twitter she is known as @_Mwaa_. She was born in Maputo, but identifies herself as cosmopolitan, or in other words, a citizen of the world. As described on her profile, she is “1st Mozambican, 2nd African, 3rd Citizen of the World”. She posts in both Portuguese and English. 

Ludmila argues that the reason social networks have found success in Mozambique is that the people feel free to interact with each other and to share information:

Quando falamos de redes sociais, a primeira coisa que nos vem a cabeça são as redes sociais que usamos no dia a dia pela internet, mas penso que não podemos nos esquecer que naturalmente os seres humanos sempre se organizaram em grupos, e as redes sociais sempre existiram. E penso que é por isso que as redes sociais eletrônicas tem tanto sucesso hoje em dia, porque naturalmente sentimos vontade de nos comunicar uns com os outros, de partilhar informação, etc.

When we talk about social networks, the first thing that comes to mind are the social networks we use every day on the Internet, but we should not forget that human beings always organise themselves naturally into groups, and that social networks have always existed. And I think that this is why the online social networks are so successful today, because we always feel a natural desire to communicate with each other, to share information, etc. 

And thanks to social networks, citizens have gained the courage to debate the country's affairs in an open and candid manner: 

Os Moçambicanos estão a usar esta plataforma para expressarem os seus sentimentos (bons ou maus) sobre o nosso pais, sobre o que está acontecendo na vida política do país e no dia-à-dia. Todos nós como cidadãos temos uma palavra a dizer sobre o que quer que seja, penso que com a capa das redes sociais muitos ganham coragem e conseguem realmente dizer o que lhes vai na alma.

Mozambicans are using this platform to express their feelings (good or bad) about our country and about what is happening in the political world and in everyday life. As citizens, we all have something to say, no matter the topic. I think that through social networks, they are able to find the courage to say what is really on their mind.

Ludmila believes that social networks can, in some way, serve as a bridge between citizens and the government:

Conheço alguns países em que através do Twitter, Facebook, blogs, os governos usam estes instrumentos para estarem mais próximos do cidadão, gostaria que em Moçambique também fosse assim.

I know that in some countries, politicians use Twitter, Facebook and blogs as tools to reach out to the citizens and I would like it to be like this in Mozambique too. 

During the month of December Ludmila was involved in organising the third edition of Hackathon, which took place in the city of Maputo and whose objective was to promote the development of smartphone apps to respond to the specific needs of the market. 

February 18 2014

10 Dishes From Sub-Saharan Africa Everyone Needs to Try

We simply cannot let February, which is Food Month here at Global Voices Online, pass without sharing with you ten delicious dishes from Sub-Saharan Africa. Make sure to add them to your recipe collections!

1. Kamba wa nazi (Prawns in coconut sauce)

Kamba (Prawns/shrimp) is loved in the coastal region [East Africa]. Shrimps taste better if cooked for just a few minutes on high heat. In the past I preferred fried shrimp only, but shrimp cooked with coconut milk is something that I would advise everyone to try. Believe me; you may never want fried shrimp ever again if you try this recipe. This recipe is exotic.

Follow the instructions from the YouTube video below from Miriam Kinunda:

2. Efo riro (Nigerian vegetable soup)

Efo Riro is a Nigerian vegetable soup. Image used with permission from Dobby Signature.

Efo Riro is a Nigerian vegetable soup. Photo used with permission from Dobby Signature.

Efo riro” is a Yoruba word which simply means “Vegetable soup” and it’s enjoyed by many. This is because it’s really versatile and could be eaten with meals such as Rice, Yam and any type of Swallow. When I got to the market to buy the ingredients for cooking this meal, I actually got so confused when it came to choosing which Leaf to use for the soup.

3. Ceebu jenn (Senegalese rice and fish)

Senegalese national dish cebe..... Photo released in the public domain by Wikipedia user KVDP.

Senegalese national dish Ceebu jenn. Photo released in the public domain by Wikipedia user KVDP.

There are about as many variations for spelling ceebu jenn (thieboudienne, thiep bu dinenne, ceebujenn…) as there are to making it. This rice (ceeb) and fish (jenn) recipe is the national dish of Senegal and can also be made with beef (ceebu yapp). If the dish looks familiar, it’s because it’s a descendent of paella.

4. Seswaa (Botswana's slow-cooked shredded beef)

Watch the video below to learn from Freedes Em how to make this scrumptious recipe from Botswana:

5. Matapa

Matapa is a typical Mozambican dish prepared with young cassava leaves piled with garlic and flour extracted from the tubers, cooked with crab or shrimp. Many Matapa dishes add cashew nuts and can be eaten with bread, rice or alone.

Cook Guru Mozambique Cuisine has simple instructions for you to make your own Matapa:

Matapa...ooh, what a delicious dish! Photo by Brandi Phiri. Used with permission.

Are you ready to eat Matapa? Photo by Brandi Phiri. Used with permission.

Ingredients:

- 1 kg of shrimps
- 750 gr of peanuts
- 1 kg of cabbage leaf or cassava leaf
- 1 coconut
- 2 L of water
- salt to taste

6. Ghana's Benne (sesame) soup with guineafowl (or Cornish game hens)

Below are the ingredients needed:

1. Fowl (I'm using 2 Cornish game hens, around 4 lbs, total)
2. 1.5 teaspoons salt, or to taste
3. 1 cup of tahini (or less if you prefer)
4. 3 – 4 cloves of garlic
5. About 2-inch chunk of fresh peeled ginger
6. 1 onion (about 1 cup, red, if available)
7. About 4 habanero, or other milder chile peppers, seeded and membranes removed, if desired. (When ground they should make about 1 Tablespoon of pepper paste). Americans use milder chile peppers, remove seeds, etc.)
8. 6 small-to-medium tomatoes (or about half a large 28 oz can of tomatoes; I imagine this might also be a small can, but I never have them in the house): enough to get 1 1/2- 2 cups when blended.

Read the full cooking instructions from Betumi here.

7. Doro wet (Ethiopian/Eritrean stew made from chicken and hard-boiled eggs)

Watch the YouTube video below made by Makonnen Wolde to learn how to make Doro wet:

8. Injera

Doro wet (above) is traditionally eaten with injera, a spongy flat bread made from the millet-like grain known as teff:

Ingredients

5 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon yeast
enough warm water to make a thin batter

Begin by combining the flour, baking powder and yeast in a large bowl. Add enough water to make a batter the consistency of thin pancake batter. Cover the bowl and set it aside.

Full cooking instructions are here.

Ethiopian/Eritrean injera (flat bread), which can be eaten with dishes such as Doro wet. Photo released under Creative Commons by Wikipedia user Rama.

Ethiopian/Eritrean injera (flat bread), which can be eaten with dishes such as Doro wet. Photo released under Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0 FR) by Wikipedia user Rama.

9. Chapati (flat bread)

Chapati or “chapo” as we fondly refer to them in Kenya, is a very popular flat bread that is a staple in many homes in East Africa. The dish has it's origins in India as do many of our foods in Kenya. This owing to the large Indian population that has lived in Kenya since the 19th century, and whom we consider as our fellow Kenyans. Though this flat bread shares the same name with another flat bread in India, the preparation of the dough and the type of flour used make them different. The Indian chapati is made of a combination of whole wheat flour (atta) and all-purpose flour whereas the East African version of the chapati uses only all-purpose flour. When making the East African chapati, oil is used whereas no oil is used in kneading the dough for the Indian chapati. In that regard, the East African chapati is more similar to the Indian flat bread called “Paratha”. But what's in a name? A chapati by any other name would still be delish :)

Chapati and chapati roll. Photo released under Creative Commons  (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Flickr user Kalyan.

Chapati and chapati roll. Photo released under Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Flickr user Kalyan.

Learn chapati cooking instructions here.

10. Ndole (spinach/bitter leaves and peanut soup):

Writing about Cameroonian dish Ndole on her blog, food blogger Immaculate writes:

At the top of my favorite Cameroonian food is Ndole, which is always present at parties ,and when cooked properly flies off the table. It is an absolutely irresistible combination of peanuts, bitter leaves (substitute spinach), meat (stock fish, shrimp,) crayfish (dried shrimps) and oil. If I could eat this every day I would, It is rich, high in calories and loved by many. It tastes like a stew spinach dip with all the spices and meat.

Follow Immaculate's instructions here to make your own Ndole.

Sub-Saharan Africa has many more yummy dishes to offer the world than those listed above. Make sure that you explore the blogs linked in this post for more!

Reposted bytowsertowser

February 04 2014

Mozambique's LGBT Community: Tell Your Story

Lambda, the Mozambican Association for the Defense of Sexual Minorities, invites [pt] adult members of the LGBT community to participate in a short documentary. ”Your story in the first person” is the title of this film project which aims at “documenting our trajectories of self-acceptance, our battles and conquests as LGBT people in Mozambique.” More information on how to take part is available in the LambdaMozi Facebook page. The deadline is February 21, 2014.

January 25 2014

Bloggers from Angola and Mozambique Release Hip-Hop Mix Tape

[The full version of this interview was originally published on 9 January 2014 on the contemporary African cultures website Buala.]

“Submundo Luso vs 12transfusons” is a new mix tape that features rappers from Angola, Mozambique, Brazil and Portugal. Released on New Year’s Eve after five months of preparation, the project brought together hip-hop promoters from the blogs Submundo Luso [pt] in Mozambique and 12transfusons [pt] in Angola. The two met online and the former invited the latter to collaborate.

In this interview for the blog Underground Lusófono [pt], Astérix o Néfilim (Astérix the Giant, in English), a rapper, producer and manager at 12transfusons, talks about the effort, which counted the participation of artists from all over the globe and is now available as a free download. He also shares his views on the artistic scene in Cabinda – a tiny province in the north of Angola – and the challenges caused by such isolation.

Underground Lusófono (UL): How did you get this project up and running?

A Mixtape Submundo Luso vs 12transfusons está disponível para Download Gratuito nos blogues Submundo Luso e 12transfusons.

The Submundo Luso vs 12transfusons Mixtape is available for Free Downloadon on the blogs Submundo Luso and 12transfusons.

Astérix o Néfilim (AN): Passou por selecionarmos os artistas de acordo os objectivos. Neste projecto procuramos trazer as raízes de hip-hop e procuramos fazer algo um pouco fora do normal, é como um “back in the days”. Normalmente os promotores trabalham com artistas de renome e nós procuramos juntar um pouco de tudo, desde a velha à nova escola, e tentamos dar primazia também ao rap feminino, artistas no anonimato e os que já estão na ribalta do hip-hop lusófono.

Astérix o Néfilim (AN): It came about by choosing artists that suited our aims. We wanted to bring back the roots of hip-hop and to do something a little bit different, a bit “old school”. Normally promoters work with renowned artists, but we wanted to bring together a little bit of everything, from the old school to the new. We also tried to give priority to female rappers and unknown artists, alongside those who have already made a name for themselves in Portuguese-language rap.

UL: How did you choose the artists?

AN: Mediante sugestão de todo elenco da 12transfusons e Submundo Luso. Trabalhamos juntos nisso, tínhamos uma lista de artistas, contactámo-los directamente embora não tenhamos propriamente todos os artistas que pretendíamos.

AN: That came after hearing the suggestions of everyone involved at 12transfusons and Submundo Luso. We worked together on this, we had a list of artists, we contacted them directly, although we didn’t get all of the artists we wanted.

UL: What level of interest was there from artists in the prospect of working with you?

AN: Em 2011 lançámos a Mixtape 12transfusons Ed. 2011 com o mesmo propósito, e já tínhamos trabalhado com alguns, é o caso do AKAM-M, MAC D –O- MURMURYO e o ALKAPPA (que foi convidado também a participar mas não pôde).

Devo dizer que não tem sido nada fácil trabalhar com mc's, é uma luta constante. Há quem ignore simplesmente porque não acredita no nosso trabalho, há quem ainda subestime e pense que não cairia bem na sua imagem, outros aceitam participar teoricamente mas, no fim, acabam desistindo. Há ainda aqueles que fazem jus à definição de RAF-TAG “Hip-hopcritas” porque nas letras dizem ser verdadeiros, juram humildade, lealdade, que fazem o rap por amor à cultura e que dão tudo pelo rap (estes são os mais arrogantes) mas não aceitam.

Nós somos produtoras independentes, tudo que temos feito até hoje é fruto dos nossos bolsos, sem apoio nenhum. Apesar de tudo devo reconhecer o esforço, o tempo, dedicação, disponibilidade e empenho de alguns artistas, em especial Khris Mc, IKONOKLASTA, AKAM-47 da Poltersonnik, REDGOVEM, KARDINAL MC, Mona Dya Kidi e muito mais, ao pessoal da 12transfusons com destaque para Absinto e Tecla 6/4, ao pessoal de Moçambique, Brasil e Portugal.

AN: In 2011, we released “Mixtape 12transfusons Ed. 2011″ with the same aim, and we had already worked with a few of the artists. This was the case with AKAM-M, MAC D O MURMURYO and ALKAPPA (who was invited to take part but couldn’t).

I’ve got to say that it hasn’t been easy working with MCs, and it’s a constant battle. There are ones that took no notice because they didn’t believe in our work. There are ones that underestimated us and thought what we were doing wouldn’t go mesh well with their image. Others agreed to take part but ended up dropping out. Then there ones that prove RAF-TAG’s “Hip-hopcrites” idea right – the ones that say in their lyrics they are keeping it real, and swear that they are loyal, that they make rap music out of love for the culture and that they do everything for rap (these are the most arrogant ones), but they don’t want to take part.

We are independent producers. Everything that we’ve done up till now we’ve paid for without any help. Despite that, I want to make a shout-out for the effort, time, dedication and hard work of some artists like Khris Mc, IKONOKLASTA, AKAM-47 from Poltersonnik, REDGOVEM, KARDINAL MC Mona Dya Kidi and many other. Also to the staff at 12transfusons with a special shout-out to Absinto and Tecla 6/4 and everyone in Mozambique, Brazil and Portugal.

A mixtape Submundo Luso vs 12transfusons foi lançada em primeira mão nos blogues 12tonline.blogspot.com e Submundoluso.blogspot.com, e demais blogues de hip-hop. O projecto não dispõe de qualquer fim lucrativo e é totalmente GRATUITO.

The Submundo Luso vs 12transfusons mixtape was launched on 12tonline.blogspot.com, Submundoluso.blogspot.com, and other hip-hop blogs. The album is not-for-profit and available completely free of charge.

UL: What has the public reaction been like?

AN: Olha, o feedback está sendo melhor do que eu pessoalmente esperava, todos os dias recebo elogios, palavras de encorajamento e felicitações pelo trabalho bem feito. E este é sem dúvida o nosso maior reembolso pela inteira dedicação neste trabalho.

AN: Listen, the response we’ve had has been better than I was personally hoping for. Every day I get compliments, words of encouragement, and congratulations on a job well done. And this, without doubt, is the greatest reward for all our dedication.

UL: How long has 12transfusons been on the market?

AN: A 12transfusons é uma produtora independente que actua no mercado de Cabinda desde 2010, tem vindo a colocar no mercado diversas obras discográficas, realizado diversos shows e demais actividades em prol do hip-hop. É composto por: Astérix o Néfilim (C.E.O), Tecla 6/4(produtor), Sacerdote, Rezo-Luto, 02K63, Absinto (designer) e Akônituz e Vars (Produtor) sendo que estes últimos representam os interesses da produtora na capital. O Absinto e Akônituz formam o grupo Artigo 9.0, e todos juntos representamos o colectivo denominado LETAL.

AN: 12transfusons is an independent production company and has been around in Cabinda since 2010. It has put out various albums, put on various shows and other activities to do with hip-hop. In the group are Astérix the Giant (CEO), Tecla 6/4 (producer), Sacerdote, Rezo-Luto, 02K63, Absinto (designer) and Akônituz e Vars (producer). These last guys are the ones that represent production in the capital. Absinto and Akônituz were part of the group Artigo 9.0 and together we are the collective LETAL.

UL: How do you view music – in particular rap music – in Cabinda?

AN: Seria falso se dissesse que estamos bem porque estamos mesmo mal, ainda há muito a fazer para que o pessoal aceite de bom grado a nossa cultura e tente desviar as atenções para o nosso lado.

Em Cabinda não é só o rap que está em péssimas condições, reflecte-se em todos os estilos musicais, desde o kuduro, kizomba, semba, kintueni e mayeye. Na verdade há pouca divulgação da música feita em Cabinda, temos uma secretaria provincial da cultura fictícia e comunicação social inexistente. Nada justifica que, numa província com artistas de talento, saiam dois álbuns num ano e que as poucas rádios que temos se recusem a apoiar iniciativas como as nossas e demais personalidades interessadas.

Voltando para o rap, este é o menos solicitado nas atividades e comícios governamentais mas é o que mais dá voz em termos de presença musical graças ao esforço de todos os companheiros de luta como: Cabmusic, hip-hop de gavetas, agora a Miller Team e não só. A cada dia que passa surgem novas propostas, novos mc´s e produtoras interessados em dar mais vida ao movimento. Fico feliz com isto.

AN: I would be lying if I said that things are good because they really aren’t and there is still a lot of work to do so that people accept our culture and pay it more attention.

In Cabinda, it’s not only rap that’s finding it tough. The situation is reflected in all musical styles, everything from kuduro, kizomba and samba to kintueni and mayeye. The truth is that the music being made in Cambinda doesn’t get promoted. We have a completely non-existent culture secretary with next to no social communication. Nothing justifies the fact that in a province with so many talented artists only two albums a year get released and there are only a few radio stations that support projects like ours.

Returning to rap, this is the least requested for governmental events and rallies, even though it is what represents people the most. This is thanks to the efforts of all of the comrades in arms such as Cabmusic and Miller Team, among others. Each day that goes by there are new ideas coming up, new MCs and producers interested in giving the movement more life. This makes me very happy.

UL: In your opinion, what needs to be done to change the situation in Cabinda?

AN: Em primeiro lugar valorizando a nossa música. É preciso acostumar as pessoas a ouvirem as nossas músicas, o povo de Cabinda é conhecido como “fidalgo” que não gosta de comparecer nos shows, nem comprar CDs. Nós temos de incentiva-los a irem aos nossos concertos, a comprarem os nossos CDs e não devemos actuar isoladamente.

A Secretaria Provincial da Cultura também deve desempenhar este papel com a comunicação social, neste caso as rádios e TVs (embora Cabinda não tenha nenhuma estação televisiva pública nem privada) de modo a tentar reverter esse quadro, talvez criar programas que ajudassem a promover a música local, apoio aos músicos, deixar de convidar os músicos apenas em campanhas partidárias e actividades governamentais, e que o caché dos músicos locais seja igual ao dos músicos que vêm de Luanda ou de outro ponto do mundo, para que estes se sintam valorizados. Um canal televisivo local ajudaria na promoção da imagem dos artistas no seio do enclave e não só. Na verdade Cabinda carece de rádios e televisões privadas que diversifiquem a rotina das informações. Enquanto isso não acontece continuamos aqui. conhecemos a luta e seguiremos firmes e fortes.

AN: Firstly, valuing our music. It’s important to get people used to hearing our music. The people of Cabinda are known as “prudes” and for not going to shows or buying albums. We have to encourage them to go to our concerts and to buy our CDs. But we can’t act alone.

The culture secretary for this province needs to play this role through social communication, in this case radio stations and TV channels – even though Cabinda doesn’t have any television stations, neither public nor private – in an attempt to reverse the situation. Perhaps create programs that help promote local music, support for musicians, stop inviting musicians only for political campaigns and governmental events. The fee for local musicians should be the same as for musicians that come from Luanda or from any other part of the world so that they feel valued. A local television station would help promote the image of local artists. The truth is, Cabinda lacks private radio and television stations that can mix things up and break the routine of local news. While this isn’t happening, we will continue here. We know what our battle is and we will continue to stand firm.

UL: What projects are on the cards for this year?

AN: 12transfusons não pára, tenho uma equipe fantástica que gosta de trabalhar e está sempre disposta a sujar as mãos. Depois desta mixtape lançaremos o Ruaportagem do grupo Artigo 9.0, um Ep que temos vindo a trabalhar e que só esse ano finalmente vamos poder metê-lo nas ruas, esperamos que seja bem recebido porque estamos a depositar aqui as nossas energias.

AN: 12transfusons doesn’t stop. I have a fantastic team that loves working and is always willing to get its hands dirty. After this mixtape we’re going to launch Ruaportagem [a play on the words "street" and "report"] from the group Artigo 9.0, which is an EP that we have been working on and only this year finally able to get it out on the streets. We hope people are going to like it because we’re putting a lot of energy into it.

UL: What is “Ruaportagem”?

AN: É uma abordagem das ruas, os problemas da população, o modo de vida dos cidadãos, as diferentes maneiras de encarar e sobreviver, os sacrifícios do dia-dia, é um olho das câmara nas ruas de Luanda, e toda a sociedade envolvente.

AN: It’s a way of looking at how thing are on the street, the problems people have, the different ways of surviving, and the daily sacrifices people make.

January 24 2014

March in Mozambique Capital Tries to ‘Rescue’ President Armando Guebuza's Image

Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, was the scene of a march on January 18 organized by the ruling party Frelimo as a way of saluting President Armando Guebuza [PDF] for his deeds and for his administration over the last two mandates. The president, who turned 71 years old on January 20, has been in power since 2004, and his second mandate is expected to come to a close this year.

The march came at a time when political and military instability is rocking the central and southern regions of the country, with confrontations arising between opposition party Renamo‘s armed men and the Mozambican army. The inability of President Guebuza (who is also the president of Frelimo, the only party in power since the country gained its independence in 1975) to solve the conflict has been one of the reasons why he has fallen out of the people's favor. Several media outlets reported that the march aimed at rescuing the president's image. 

The image of the

The image of the “March of the Ducks” was widely shared online. It reads: “Guebuza, my friend, ducks are with you” and “Mozambican ducks really love their leader Armando Guebuza, they're marching in his honour”. The image is a parody of the reason that Mozambique's President Armando Guebuza has given the press for his economic success: he supposedly became rich by selling ducks.

The location of the march, which gathered around 2,000 people, was the same as another rally on October 31, 2013 that protested against a series of kidnappings and the increasing insecurity in the country. That march brought together more than 20,000 people; it was organized by the Mozambican League for Human Rights and led by the League's President Alice Mabota [pt], whose name is beginning to arise as a possible candidate for this year's general elections.

On January 16, Frelimo's First Secretary in the city of Maputo, Hermenegildo Infante, officially launched the march [pt] and pointed a finger at those who criticize the president:

Eu tenho a certeza de que estas pessoas depois de cessar o seu mandato hão-de falar bem do presidente Guebuza.

I am sure that these same people will praise President Guebuza, once he finishes his mandate.

António Jorge, a resident of the city of Maputo, had a different opinion:

Pelo contrario iremos sentir a falta de sermos roubados pelo governo, que inventa leis e não cumprem. Sr. Infante não nos chama de ignorantes como Sr esta ser, solução leia a carta da renamo em imprensa e nos diremos onde vocês estão a falhar e onde eles estão a falhar e daremos soluções. O Sr. tem filhos porque não manda um dos seus filhos a guerra para o senhor poder sentir o que e perder um filho por causa da ignorância, ambição de um punhado de dirigentes do partido FRELIMO. Fala de segurança que segurança o sr tem nas ruas de maputo ? Os primeiros a roubarem a população são os trabalhadores do estado junto com os seus dirigentes, hoje temos mais medo da policia do que do ladrão.

On the contrary, we will miss being robbed by the government, which creates laws, but does not follow them. Mr. Infante does not call us ignorant, as he is showing himself to be; the solution is to read the letter by Renamo in the press and we will say where you have failed and where they have failed and we will give solutions. Don't you have sons? Why don't you send them to war so that you can feel what it is to lose a son because of ignorance, ambition on the part of a bunch of leaders from FRELIMO. You speak of safety, what safety have we got on the streets in Maputo? The first ones to steal from the population are the state workers together with their leaders; today we are more afraid of the police than of the thief.

Foto do Jornal @Verdade:

Photo by @Verdade: “The march organized by the party Frelimo on Saturday, with the aim of praising Mozambican Chief of State Armando Guebuza for his “deeds” thoughout his two mandates and to honor his 71st birthday, has served mainly to make what was already known evident, though some people refuse to recognize it: the unpopularity of the president before the people whom he governs.”

Luis Augusto Maraire, in view of a photo published by @Verdade newspaper of the march, commented that Frelimo should be concerned with the political tension spreading throughout the country instead of organizing a march:

a frelimo gasta tempo fazendo marcha pra exaltação da credibilidade de Guebuza, em vez de pensarem uma forma de pararem e pensar uma forma de parar o derramamento de sangue das zonas centro,norte e sul

Frelimo spends time organizing a march to praise the credibility of Guebuza instead of thinking of a way to stop and think of a way to cease the bloodshed in the central, northern and southern areas.

In the same publication, Cesar Eurico Kawawa, a resident of Nacala on the country's northern coast, praised the initiative of the march:

Guebuza Merece muito mais do que esta simples marcha. Guebuza fez muito para Moçambique e pelo povo moçambicano, mesmo que o SUCESSO ALHEIO incomode aos que se recusam a ver os feitos deste Herói da Luta Contra a Pobreza! Bem haja Guebuza!

Guebuza deserves much more than this simple march. Guebuza has done a lot for Mozambique and for the Mozambican people, even if OTHER PEOPLE'S SUCCESS upset those who refuse to see the good deeds of this Hero in the Fight Against Poverty! Well done Guebuza!

Other people criticized the use of state assets for the benefit of party politics, such as a mini-bus from the Education Directorate to carry people to the march. 

Beto Dias Pikles slammed the fact that the Public TV Channel was used to broadcast the march:

Os verdadeiros mocambicanos nao aderiram as idiotices cometidas pela Classe Governante pese embora seja um direito constitucional. Algo que deixa-me estupefato eh o porque duma [televisão] publica onde os impostos de milhoes de cidadaos a faz funcionar vai transmitir em directo uma marcha? Habitualmente minhas sobrinhas tem estado em frente ao ecra logo pela manha pra acompanhar programas que elas gostam e hoje a TV foi mais uma vez partidarizada.

True Mozambicans did not join the idiocies committed by the governing class, although it is a constitutional right. Something that leaves me speechless is why would public [television], which subsists on the taxes of millions of citizens, broadcast such a march live? Usually my nieces stand in front of the screen first thing in the morning to watch the programs they like, and today the TV was once again partisan.

The video below shows supporters in one of the main streets of the city center of Maputo:

The march was reported on Twitter under the hashtag #MarchaSaudaçãoGuebuza (March to salute Guebuza). Ulla Andren, the ambassador from Sweden in Mozambique, found the humor in the situation:

Frelimo organizes a march today and comical greeting to President Guebuza in Maputo under the motto “Guebuza – Mozambicans are with you”.

November 19 2013

“Underground” Newspaper Launched in Mozambique

A new “underground” newspaper called “Vigilant Citizen”, launched in Mozambique on the eve of elections, is being shared in .PDF by the blog Moçambique para Todos [pt]. Its cover carries the iconic image of protesters with the poster “Who keeps voting for these guys?”

“Vigilant Citizen” cover.

November 17 2013

PHOTOS: Rally of Mozambique's Main Opposition Party Attacked by Riot Police

The arrival of two cars with officers from the Rapid Intervention Force (FIR) of the Police of the Republic of Mozambique (PRM) interrupted the final rally of the campaign of opposition party MDM in Beira. Photo @Verdade newspaper (CC BY 2.0)

The arrival of two cars with officers from the Rapid Intervention Force (FIR) of the Police of the Republic of Mozambique (PRM) interrupted the final rally of the campaign of opposition party MDM in Beira. Photo @Verdade newspaper (CC BY 2.0)

The final mayoral campaign rally of opposition party MDM in Beira ended with three people killed and several injured – the injured included the candidate's own son – following an attack by riot police who used tear gas grenades and shot bullets to the air.

When the tumult began, incumbent mayor Daviz Simango was preparing to take the stage and call on the crowd to vote once again for the main opposition party MDM (Mozambique Democratic Movement), in power in the second largest city of Mozambique, also the capital of the province of Sofala. 

Unrest in Beira set in on November 16, the second to last day of the electoral campaign for Mozambique's municipal elections. The vote will take place on November 20, 2013. @Verdade newspaper is gathering citizen reports in a special website for the elections.

“Unrest set in and citizens tried to flee in disarray while FIR agents kept shooting. ” Photo shared by @Verdade newspaper on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

After the attack of the riot police, the crowd started to burn tires in the roads that lead to Beira´s neighborhood of Munhava.

After the attack of the riot police, the crowd started to burn tires in the roads that lead to Beira´s neighborhood of Munhava (16/11/2013). Photo by Miguel Mangueze for @Verdade newspaper (CC BY 2.0)

November 09 2013

Researcher to Mozambique's President: “You Are Out of Control”

An open letter [pt] by Mozambican well-known economist and researcher Carlos Nuno Castel-Branco begins “Mr. President, you are out of control.” The letter frontally questions the credibility of President Guebuza in the current context of political and military tension in the country, followed by a strange mass kidnapping. The researcher describes the latest events as “runarounds”:

Para suspender a constituição e aniquilar todas as formas de oposição, atirando depois as culpas para os raptores e outros criminosos e terroristas, ou para aniquilá-los em nome da luta pela estabilidade.

In order to suspend the constitution and to annihilate all forms of opposition, then blaming the kidnappers and other criminals and terrorists, or annihilating them in the name of the struggle for stability.

Castel-Branco even suggests that President Guebuza wants to “turn the country fascist”. The polemic text is being shared and commented on social media.

October 24 2013

Online Campaign for Peace in Mozambique

The blog Mozmaniacos [pt] has launched an online campaign for peace in Mozambique, after recent threats to over 20 years of peace. With the hashtag #MozQuerPaz (#MozWantsPeace), Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram users are starting to contribute their photos and personalized messages to the effort.

October 22 2013

Mozambique's 20 Year Peace at Great Risk

Morning mist in Gorongosa. Photo by Bart Wursten on Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Morning mist in Gorongosa. Photo by Bart Wursten on Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Yesterday, Mozambican armed forces launched a raid against the year-long headquarters of opposition leader and ex-guerrilla leader Afonso Dhlakama in Gorongosa, in the center of the country. After a number of raids attributed to Renamo on security forces, some even on the National Highway, and a series of failed negotiations in the country's capital Maputo between Renamo and the government, Mozambican armed forces had essentially surrounded the Renamo base during recent weeks.

Following the attack, on October 21, 2013, a Renamo spokesperson declared it constituted an assassination attempt against Dhlakama, marking the end of a 20 year peace deal, signed in 1992 in Rome. Renamo announced that Dhlakama had fled into the bush and he was reported to have said he “could not control” the response of his supporters to the government attack.

Renamo and the state of Mozambique (led from independence by governing party Frelimo) fought over the country during a bloody period of civil war, fueled by Cold War politics and longstanding rivalries. When Renamo came in from the bush, it agreed to become an opposition party as a part of a “multi-party” democracy. The group never had a harmonious relationship with the government, trying to play the spoiler in a number of elections, but remained in parliament acting as Mozambique's main opposition party.

An important context of this year's increasing conflict are upcoming municipal elections (which Renamo was boycotting) and the continued discovery of major hydrocarbon deposits off Mozambique's Indian Ocean coast (see our coverage).

Comment about the escalation of hostilities was quick to pour in, much of it from a generation which grew up after the country's bloody civil war. On Twitter, many joined in a chorus of “no” to war.

NO to the “ex-combatants” in “power” #NO

We don't want war here.

Commenters on the Facebook wall of @Verdade newspaper observed that the common people pay the price in conflicts, or “carry the can” while leaders seem “quite relaxed”.

A number of young people jokingly referred to Dhlakama as a “Bin Laden”.

The unconfirmed and seemingly fake twitter account of Afonso Dhlakama tweeted “I am alive and in a safe place” provoking a number of sarcastic and disrespectful responses.

Long-time blogger on Mozambique JPT wrote

Olho o telefone, deixado em silêncio, e está cheio de mensagens, alarmadas, o temor da escalada… E a paz, esse bem supremo, está em perigo

I look at my phone, left on silence, and it's full of messages, alarmed, fear of an escalation… And peace, this supreme good, is at risk

Most were extremely worried about the uncertainty that lies ahead. Fransisco Moises commented on Moçambique para Todos blog

Pelos vistos, o acordo de Roma morreu. Tudo é agora possivel. Tomar e quebrar uma base nao é ganhar a guerra. Os que se encontram nas matas poderao agora lançar a guerrilha, principalmente sem o controlo do Dhlakama que era impedimento para muitos homens que queriam actuar.

The Rome accords are dead, it appears. Now all is possible. Taking and busting up the base is not winning a war. Those now in the bush can launch guerrilla attacks, without the control of Dhlakama who was actually preventing many men from taking action.

Not all were so critical of the government's attack. Commenter Antonio Vasco wrote on Moçambique para Todos blog

Era a hora!
Bases militares ou pro-militares da Renamo em Moçambique?
Mas,a Renamo nao é ela um Partido Politico?
Se o desaparecimento do Lider da Renamo for permanente,talvez,talvez a Renamo como Partido Politico poderá ela transformar-se num verdadeiro partido politco.
Boa Noticia! Se for necessario,que as forças de Seguarança e militares de Moçambicanas que destruam todas palhotas dessa base.Boa,boa e boa noticia!

It was about time!

Military or militaristic bases of Renamo in Mozambique? But, isn't Renamo a political party? If the disappearance of the leader of Renamo is to be permanent, perhaps, perhaps Renamo as a political party can actually become just that.

Good news! if necessary, the armed forces should destroy all of the huts of that base. Good, good, and good news!

Meanwhile, President Armando Guebuza carries on his “Open Presidency” tour, curiously in the same province as the attacks and on the eve of municipal elections slated for November 20.

October 11 2013

Re-Imagining Lusophony and Decolonizing the Mind

The Fourth International Congress in Cultural Studies – Colonialisms, Post-colonialisms and Lusophonies has a call for paper submissions open until October 15, 2013:

To demystify, to dehierarchize, to establish a policy of difference, to allow a multiplicity of voices, to constitute so many projects of possible modernities/rationalities within post-modernity, to mobilize, to re-politicize, to imagine other political, social and economical models, this is the task (utopian, of course) that is, for us, essential in the re-imagining of Lusophony.

(…)

A postcolonial reflection in a Lusophone context cannot avoid the exercise of criticism to the old dichotomies of periphery/center, cosmopolitanism/rurality, civilized/savage, black/white, north/south, in a context of cultural globalization, transformed by new and revolutionary communication phenomena, which have also globalized marginality.

The congress will take place from April 28 to 30, 2014, in the city of Aveiro, Portugal.

October 04 2013

One-Third of the World's Babies Don't Have Birth Certificates

Photo via BRAVO!

Photo via BRAVO!

Out of the 150 million children born each year, 51 million – more than one-third – are not registered at birth. In developing countries, one in four has a birth registration rate of less than 50 percent. Without a birth certificate, children are often prevented from attending school or receiving adequate healthcare and are more vulnerable to becoming child soldiers or working as exploited labourers.

But the Community of Saint Giles (Comunità di Sant'Egidio in Italian), a Catholic association of lay people that serves the poor, is trying to change that. The Community has developed the BRAVO! programme, which stands for Birth Registration for All Versus Oblivion, to push for higher rates of birth registration in parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America. It's one of many initiatives, including the DREAM programme to combat AIDS featured on Global Voices in August 2013, that the Community has undertaken. 

Global Voices recently spoke with Evelina Martelli, project manager for BRAVO!, about the programme, where it is operating, and why birth registration matters so much.

Global Voices (GV): What is the BRAVO programme and how did it come about?

Evelina Martelli (EM): Il Programma BRAVO! è nato dall'esperienza della Comunità di Sant'Egidio per proteggere la vita dei bambini e garantire i loro diritti. In molti paesi africani e asiatici i membri della Comunità si sono accorti che i bambini che aiutano spesso non hanno nemmeno il certificato di nascita, e subiscono per questo pesanti conseguenze, tra cui quelle di non potersi iscrivere a scuola e di non ricevere cure mediche adeguate. In situazioni di conflitto, abbiamo visto che proprio i bambini senza certificato di nascita erano più esposti a essere arruolati come bambini soldato;  spesso questi bambini sono utilizzati per i lavori in miniera e nelle piantagioni perché i datori di lavoro non possono essere condannati per sfruttamento del lavoro minorile in quanto non è possibile dimostrare l'età dei bambini.

BRAVO!, acronimo di Birth Registration For All Versus Oblivion, è il programma a cui la Comunità di Sant'Egidio ha dato vita per garantire la registrazione allo stato civile di tutti i bambini. BRAVO! promuove e incoraggia la registrazione dei bambini al momento della nascita e risolve la mancata registrazione attraverso procedure di iscrizione tardiva. Sensibilizza genitori e figli sull'importanza del certificato di nascita e spiega le procedure necessarie a registrare gratuitamente le nascite. Promuove il miglioramento del servizio di registrazione formando gli ufficiali di stato civile, migliorando le loro condizioni di lavoro, creando nuovi uffici più vicini ai luoghi in cui le persone vivono. Contribuisce a rimuovere una causa importante del traffico umano, della schiavitù e dello sfruttamento minorile.

Evelina Martelli (EM): The BRAVO! programme was inspired by what the Community of Sant'Egidio experienced when protecting the lives of children and guaranteeing them their rights. In many African and Asian countries, members of the Community noticed that the children they were helping often did not even have a birth certificate, and because of this they suffered serious consequences such as not being able to enroll in school and not receiving adequate medical care. In conflict situations, we noticed that the children without birth certificates were more likely to be recruited as child soldiers. Often these children are used to work in mines and plantations because the employers cannot be convicted of exploiting child labour as it is not possible to prove the age of the child.

BRAVO!, which stands for Birth Registration For All Versus Oblivionis the programme that the Community of Sant'Egidio has created to ensure that all children are registered. BRAVO! promotes and encourages the registration of children at the moment of birth and resolves the problem of non-registered children through late registration procedures. They make the parents and the children aware of the importance of birth certificates and explain the procedure to follow to register births for free. They also promote the improvement of the registration services by training the registry office officials, improving their working conditions and creating offices closer to where the people live. It contributes to eliminating a major cause of human trafficking, slavery and child labour.

GV: Why is the registration of children so important for their future?

La registrazione delle nascite è il riconoscimento ufficiale dell'esistenza di una persona. È un diritto umano fondamentale ai sensi dell’art. 7 della Convenzione dell’ONU sui diritti dell’infanzia.

I bambini non registrati allo stato civile non possono usufruire della protezione giuridica, sociale ed economica di uno Stato né accedere ai suoi servizi. Non possono, ad esempio, usufruire di prestazioni sanitarie, né frequentare la scuola, né conseguire un titolo di studio.

Privi di un'identità legale sono più facilmente esposti agli abusi o allo sfruttamento, alla schiavitù, al traffico di esseri umani, alla prostituzione, al lavoro forzato o all’arruolamento come bambini soldato. Se hanno commesso un reato, vengono trattati come adulti e non godono delle protezioni assicurate ai minori, come quella di stare in celle separate dai maggiorenni.

Grazie al certificato di nascita, da grandi potranno partecipare alla vita democratica del loro paese, eleggere ed essere eletti, potranno godere dei diritti di nazionalità, potranno viaggiare, essere assunti con un regolare contratto di lavoro, ereditare o avere titoli di proprietà ed essere parte attiva della società civile del proprio paese, contribuendo al suo sviluppo.

La registrazione allo stato civile riveste un’importanza fondamentale anche per gli Stati. Essa è infatti la principale fonte per l’elaborazione delle statistiche demografiche, che forniscono i dati necessari alle valutazioni sanitarie e di sviluppo umano, tra cui molti degli indicatori degli Obiettivi del Millennio (MDG).

EM: Birth registration is the official recognition of the existence of a person. It is a fundamental human right under Article 7 of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child.

Children who are not registered are not eligible for legal, social and economic protection from the state nor do they have access to its services. They cannot, for example, make use of health services, or attend school, or get a qualification.

Without a legal identity, they are more likely to be exposed to abuse through exploitation, slavery, human trafficking, prostitution, forced labour or conscription as child soldiers. If they commit a crime, they are treated as adults and are not offered the same treatment as other children, such as being in separate cells from the adults.

Thanks to a birth certificate, as adults they will be able to participate in the democratic life of their country, vote and stand for election. They will have all the rights of a regular citizen, be able to travel, be employed with a regular contract, inherit, own property and be an active part of civil society in their country, contributing to its development.

Registering births is of fundamental importance also to the country. It is in fact the main source for producing population statistics, which provide the data necessary for health assessments and human development, including many of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).

GV: In which countries is the programme running and why?

EM: Il programma è attivo in tutti i paesi in cui sono presenti volontari della Comunità di Sant'Egidio: circa 40 paesi tra Africa subsahariana, Asia e America Latina. I membri della Comunità spiegano alle famiglie che aiutano con i diversi servizi (scuole della pace, programma DREAM per la cura dell'AIDS, mense per bambini malnutriti, sostegno e aiuto alimentare per i bambini di strada, aiuto ai lebbrosi e alle loro famiglie) l'importanza della registrazione delle nascite e spesso le assistono nelle procedure per la registrazione. Organizzano feste nei quartieri poveri e nei villaggi per spiegare a genitori e figli l'importanza della registrazione e le procedure per effettuarla. Promuovono campagne di sensibilizzazione in collaborazione con le scuole primarie, con gli ospedali e le materni

In alcuni paesi africani, il Programma BRAVO! collabora con le autorità dello Stato per promuovere la registrazione dell'intera popolazione. Di concerto con le autorità competenti, elabora la strategia per  garantire la registrazione di tutta la popolazione che ancora non possiede il certificato di nascita e contestualmente migliorare le infrastrutture dello stato civile per garantire che in futuro tutti i nuovi nati vengano registrati immediatamente dopo la nascita.

In Burkina Faso, la campagna promossa dal programma BRAVO! ha permesso la registrazione di 3,5 milioni di persone (quasi un quarto della popolazione) e oggi BRAVO! è impegnato nella stabilizzazione del sistema, attraverso la formazione di personale, il sostegno agli uffici comunali di registrazione, le campagne di sensibilizzazione in tutto il paese.

In Mozambico, BAVO! sta promuovendo la registrazione della popolazione della provincia di Nampula che, con i suoi 4,2 milioni di abitanti, è la più popolosa del paese e sta formando il personale dell'intera provincia. Due nuovi centri di registrazione sono già stati costruiti in aree rurali e altri centri saranno presto inaugurati. Sarà così più facile registrare le nascite dei bambini alla nascita, usufruendo della gratuità.

EM: The programme is running in all the countries where there are volunteers from the Community of Sant'Egidio: about 40 countries across sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America. Members of the Community explain the importance of birth registration to the families that they help through the various services offered (peace schools, the DREAM programme for the treatment of AIDS, canteens for malnourished children, food aid and support for street children, help for lepers and their families) and often help them with the registration process. They organise parties in the slums and villages to explain to parents and children the importance of registering and the necessary procedures. They promote awareness through campaigns in primary schools, hospitals and maternity wards.

In some African countries, the BRAVO! programme collaborates with the local authorities to promote the registration of the entire population. Together with the relevant authorities, they develop a strategy to ensure the registration of everyone who does not yet have a birth certificate and to improve the registry services so that in the future all newborns will be registered immediately after birth.

In Burkina Faso, the campaign promoted by the BRAVO! programme has brought about the registration of 3.5 million people (almost a quarter of the population), and today BRAVO! is involved in establishing a system, by training the staff, supporting the local registration offices and spreading awareness campaigns throughout the country.

In Mozambique, BRAVO! is promoting the registration of the population in the province of Nampula, which, with its 4.2 million inhabitants, is the most populated in the country, and is training staff in the district. Two new registration centres have already been built in rural areas and other centres will be opened soon. In this way it will be easier to register children at birth, taking advantage of the fact that it is free.

Photo via BRAVO!

Photo via BRAVO!

EM: Le difficoltà sono soprattutto legate all'enorme diffusione del fenomeno della mancata registrazione. Su 150 milioni di bambini che nascono ogni anno, 51 milioni, più di un terzo del totale, non vengono registrati alla nascita. Fra i paesi in via di sviluppo, uno su quattro presenta un tasso di registrazione delle nascite inferiore al 50 per cento.

In Africa subsahariana si segnalano i tassi di registrazione delle nascite più bassi del mondo che vanno dal 55% al 67% di non registrati. In pratica si stima che due bambini su tre non siano registrati alla nascita.

È necessario che gli Stati investano risorse per garantire a tutti i cittadini la fruibilità dei sistemi di stato civile, ma è ancora più essenziale far comprendere l'importanza della registrazione per garantire i diritti umani, per promuovere il senso di cittadinanza e di partecipazione, perché gli individui si riconoscano non solo nell'identità familiare o clanica, ma anche nella più vasta comunità nazionale e si sentano cittadini partecipi di un destino comune.

EM: The difficulties are mainly linked to the fact that the non-registration phenomenon is widespread. Out of the 150 million children born each year, 51 million, more than a third, are not registered at birth. In developing countries, one in four has a birth registration rate of less than 50 percent.

In sub-Saharan Africa, the rates of birth registration are the lowest in the world, ranging from 55 percent to 67 percent of the total births not being registered. Basically, an estimated two out of three children are not registered at birth.

It is necessary that the governments invest in this area in order to guarantee the use of the registry systems to all citizens, but it is also essential that the citizens understand the the importance of registration to ensure human rights, to promote a sense of citizenship and participation, so that the individual will not only feel a sense of belonging to a family or a clan, but also to the wider national community and gain a sense of being citizens who share a common destiny.

GV: In what way is the crisis in many Western countries affecting the programme?

EM: La crisi economica incide molto pesantemente sugli aiuti internazionali e trovare fonti di finanziamento è sempre più complicato. Un punto di forza del programma è il fatto che la sostenibilità è assicurata poiché, dopo la fase iniziale di adeguamento del sistema alle esigenze della popolazione, sono gli Stati a sostenere gli oneri di spesa del sistema di registrazione. Inoltre, negli ultimi anni, nella comunità internazionale è cresciuta la consapevolezza dell'importanza dello stato civile come base della democrazia e come strumento per la pianificazione e la misurazione dei progressi in campo sanitario, sociale ed economico. Il Programma BRAVO! ha potuto beneficiare del sostegno della Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri in Italia e del Ministero degli Affari Esteri della Germania. I finanziamenti più significativi sono giunti però da sostenitori privati in Europa, da alcuni comuni italiani e da Kindermissionswerk, opera per l'infanzia della Chiesa Cattolica tedesca.

EM: The economic crisis has huge effects on international aid, and securing funding is becoming even more complicated. One of the strengths of the programme is that it is sustainable because, after the initial phase of the adapting system to the needs of the population, the government bears the burden of the expenses of the registration system.

Furthermore, in recent years, the international community has become ever more aware of the need for registration as the basis of democracy and as a tool for planning and measuring health, social and economic progress. The BRAVO! Programme has benefited from the support of the Italian prime minister and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Germany. The most significant funding, however, came from private supporters in Europe, some Italian municipalities and Kindermissionswerk, the German Catholic Church's children's charity.

GV: Is there anything else you would like to add for our readers?

EM: In questi anni, grazie a BRAVO!, abbiamo visto molti bambini ricominciare a studiare e molte famiglie sperimentare nuove opportunità. Madri che grazie al certificato di nascita hanno ottenuto la licenza di commercio, padri che hanno preso la patente. È molto bello vedere i primi frutti di questo lavoro e sapere che abbiamo contribuito a proteggere la vita di tanti bambini, molti dei quali forse non conosceremo mai di persona. È una protezione che li accompagnerà per tutta la vita.

EM: In recent years, thanks to BRAVO!, we have seen many children go back to studying and many families discover new opportunities. Mothers who, thanks to their birth certificate, have obtained a license to trade, fathers who have got their driving license. It is great to see the first fruits of this work and know that we helped to protect the life of so many children, many of whom we will never know in person. It is a form of protection that will accompany them throughout their lives.

September 29 2013

Mozambique women's basketball reaches new heights

Following a thrilling victory in the quarterfinals (see our coverage), last night the Mozambican women's basketball team won a place in the Afrobasket Finals tonight against reigning champions Angola. With yet another comeback-style victory over Cameroon in the semifinals, they are also guaranteed a place in the World Championships, and in the nation's sporting history.

September 28 2013

Mozambique Women's Basketball Thrills with Last-Second Win Over Nigeria

Mozambicans went wild yesterday for their national basketball team, the women “Samurais” as they are known, as they triumphed over Nigeria in the final seconds of the quarterfinals of the Afrobasket championship in Maputo.

The home crowd was delirious after the buzzer-beating comeback on September 27, 2013, in which the Samurais scored six points in 24 seconds, with two three-pointers – one by Leia Dongue with two seconds remaining. After squandering an early lead, the Mozambique team staged an unforgettable campaign, buoyed by the home advantage.

This video inside the overcrowded Maxaquene Gymnasium gives a feeling for the electric atmosphere and the drama of the last seconds:

@Verdade reader Sabado Tomucene wrote about the final moments on the newspaper's Facebook wall:

O ambiente euforico vivido nos ultimos 5 segundos finais em que aconteceu o triplo victorioso foi loucura. Ver aquele publico saltar, vibrar, gritar, chorar… ver aquelas pessoas transpiradas que 1 minuto antes estava todo pavilhap gelado porque ja nao se acreditava naquele final feliz, Ver nossa jogadora desmaiada (!!) pelo impacto emocianante do triplo victorioso quando poucas pessoas senao apenas a equipa tecnica e as jogadoras tentavam acomoda-la.
FOI UMA LOUCURA TOTAL

The euphoric atmosphere was crazy during the last five seconds when the last victorious three-pointer was scored. Seeing the crowd jump up and down, vibrate, shout and cry… seeing people sweating who only one minute before were totally frozen with the rest of the stadium no longer believing in a happy ending, seeing our player fainting with the emotional impact of the victorious three-pointer when few people from the support team and players tried to help her. IT WAS TOTAL CRAZINESS.

Photo by Leia Dongue shared on Flickr by @Verdade (CC BY 2.0)

Photo by Leia Dongue shared on Flickr by @Verdade (CC BY 2.0)

It is rare for any national team to generate such excitement in Mozambique, and like in many countries, women's sport is often overlooked. Not the case last night. @Verdade newspaper's wall, now with over 40,000 readers, was overflowing with comments and excitement. One photo, taken by Leia Dongue, was shared 136 times, received more than 840 likes and generated more than 350 ecstatic comments by @Verdade readers.

Reader Estevao Fanuel Tete commented:

O corte de energia k se deu na TVM nesses ultimos segundos do jogo deve me ter salvo a vida. Eu ja estava agonizando!!! Nunca antes uma partida de modalidade alguma tinha posto tao em causa a minha saude.

The power cut that happened at TVM [Mozambique's Television] in the last seconds of the game must have saved my life. I was suffering!!! Never before had a game every put my health at risk in such a way.

Reader Adriano Felix wrote on @Verdade's Facebook wall:

Num momento de crises diversas pelo país, estas campeãs fazem de tudo pra levantar a nossa autoestima e orgulho de ser daqui. Ainda vamos sentir o impacto disso na sociedade, na economia e na cultura nacionais, na reputação internacional. Quem, fora de Moz, não googlou sobre moz desde que o evento começou? Gerou curiosidade, ne. Quem nestes não vai trabalho ou escola cheio de si e da moçambicanidade adoirada pleas meninas? Já não se lamenta falta disto ou aquilo, comenta-se orgulhosamente as proezas das nossas representantes. Ainda há quem pense que não importa investir no desporto e na cultura! Quem negaria o título de heróinas nacionais as meninas?!

In a moment of various crises throughout the country, these champions did everything possible to raise our self-esteem and pride for being from here. We will continue to feel the impact of this in society, the economy and national culture, and in our national reputation. Who, outside of Mozambique, didn't Google Mozambique since the event began? It's generated curiosity. Who among us won't go to work or school full of ourselves and of the Mozambicanness so adored by these women? No more complaining about the lack of this or that, we'll comment proudly on the prowess of our representatives. Are there still those who would say it's not important to invest in sport and culture? Who would deny these women the title of national heroes?

The Samurais will face Cameroon in the semifinals today, and Mozambican readers joke that they will “grill” the Cameroonians – Cameroon in Portuguese is Camarões, the same word for shrimp. Grilled prawns and shrimp are delicacies in Mozambique. The other semifinal will be between reigning champions Angola and Senegal. A final between Angola and Mozambique would hold special excitement, as the countries are rivals in sport.

September 16 2013

A Positive Example of Community Farming in Mozambique

A positive example of a farming, savings and literacy community project in Mozambique was highlighted in the blog of the NGO Justiça Ambiental (Environmental Justice) following their visit to the community of Nacoma, about 83 km from the northern city of Nampula last July.

Justiça Ambiental learned about the association's good practices “for a more efficient agriculture on poor soils” and crop improvements, and also about how the group, mostly composed by women, “increased their income allowing it to improve their lives and their families”:

We were impressed by the organization, methodology and capacity of a group so small yet so effective in managing their own interests. A good example of community empowerment, with which all present were astonished. However, for us it was more than that. It was once again a confirmation of the power of the people of Mozambique and Mozambican women in particular, their ability, courage and perseverance in trying to resolve their difficulties and strive for a better future. For us it was a true life lesson!

Concerns about the future of good examples such as this one were raised by the NGO in the end of the blog post, referring to the controversial economic development plan ProSavana (reported by Global Voices) and the ‘land grabbing’ plans of the governments of Japan, Brazil and Mozambique.

September 11 2013

Hackathon Mozambique Offers Design Contest

Poster of the second hackathon, which focused on mobile apps in natural disaster management and flooding scenarios, frequent in the country.

Poster of the second hackathon last June, 2013, which focused on mobile apps in natural disaster management and flooding scenarios, frequent in the country.

Hackathon Mozambique launched a graphic design contest [pt] for the upcoming third civic hackathon, and the deadline for submissions is already near: September 14, 2013.

The event, sponsored by Mozambique's Ministry of Science and Technology with the support of Sweden and Finland, will take place in early December and is being organized in an open group on Facebook, Hackathon Mozambique, that gathers more than 300 enthusiasts of the “development of innovative technological solutions” in the country. The topic for December's hackathon, Tourism, was democratically decided in an open poll.

The winner of the top prize of the previous edition, DoEverythingIT, proposed an app for “sending data on rainfall and water levels, collected from the Zambezi River upstream, to authorities who are able to issue timely warnings to people living downstream from the river via mobile messaging”, #humanipo reported.

July 26 2013

PHOTOS: Every Mozambican is an Independent Electoral Observer

[Editor's note: The author of this post is working with @Verdade on this project]

Wider access to mobile technology throughout Mozambique is enabling a national network of citizen reporters to monitor the electoral process leading to the African country's municipal elections in November 2013.

Collaborations between advocacy and media organizations are providing online platforms for people to report problems as well as successes in the run-up to the fall vote. During the country's two-month-long voter registration coming to a close at the end of July 2013, Mozambicans grabbed their mobile phones to send stories and reports from throughout the vast territory.

Mozambicans who are planning to vote in the elections on November 20 had from May 25 to July 23 to get a new voter ID card. A reported 85 percent [pt] of the 3,598,003 eligible voters received theirs during that period, and turnout considerably increased in the last days throughout the more than 2,000 voter registration posts spread around the 53 municipalities that are going to the polls this year.

As expected, the first phase of the electoral process met quite a few technical, structural and human challenges. Hundreds if not thousands of reports were gathered in a liveblog Recenseamento ao Minuto (Registration up to the minute) [pt] on the website of newspaper @Verdade, the most read newspaper in the country.

In the last day of the electoral registration process, at the primary school of Alabazine in Maputo, the process is moving smoothly. Photo by Miguel Mangueze for @Verdade on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

“In the last day of the electoral registration process (July 23), at the primary school of Albazine in Maputo, the process is running smoothly”. Photo by Miguel Mangueze shared by @Verdade on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Reports, such as that of Nazarete Reginaldo, an observer in Beira, were included. Reginaldo took stock [pt] of the previous 60 days when the registration process finished:

primeiro os aspectos negativos constatados avaria constante das maquinas desde o momento inicial ate ao fim, isso em quase todos os postos observados.
O segundo aspecto, que também aconteceu em todos postos, foi a rejeição de outros documentos como Cédula Pessoal, antigos cartões de eleitor e presença das duas testemunhas.
A fraca afluência aos postos até a penúltima semana também é outra situação a lamentar.
Outra constatação é de vários postos onde muitos cidadãos não puderam recensear-se no ultimo dia, embora estivessem presentes até a hora prevista do fecho.
Aspectos positivos destaco o não registo de actos de vandalismo com excepção do ultimo dia, na EICB. (…)
Na EPC 12 de outubro os brigadistas sensibilizavam as pessoas de como se portarem no acto do processo. Registaram-se vários cortes constantes de energia que atrasaram o reecnseamento.

first, the negative aspects observed: constant failure of the machines [computers and printers] from the initial moment till the end, that in almost all stations observed.
The second aspect, which also happened in all stations, was the rejection [by the officials] of other [eligible registration] documents such as the Personal Certificate, old voter cards, and the presence of two witnesses.
The low turnout until the penultimate week is also another situation to regret.
Another finding is that there were several posts where many citizens could not register on the last day, although they were present until the expected time of closing.
I highlight the positive aspects of non-registration of acts of vandalism with the exception of the last day, the EICB. (…)
In the Primary School on October 12, officials sensitized people on how to behave in the act of the [registration] process. There were several and constant power cuts which delayed the registration.

Last day of the electoral registration in Nampula, APAE station. Photo shared by @Verdade on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Last day of the electoral registration in Nampula, APAE station, July 23. Photo shared by @Verdade on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The newspaper is using liveblogging platform Citizendesk, which was awarded by the African News Innovation Challenge in November 2012 and is being developed by Sourcefabric, a non-profit organization that develops open source tools for journalism. Citizendesk gathers different sources such as SMS's, posts from Facebook, tweets, photos, videos, and online content in general, allowing for “newsrooms to incorporate citizen reports into their news stream, to act as eyes and ears for the upcoming elections”, as Rebecca Chao from Personal Democracy's WeGov puts it on her article ”Journalists in Mozambique Have a New Way to Get Help Reporting on Elections”.

Messages left by passers-by in the People´s Wall of Maputo - an extensive outer wall of the building housing @Verdade Newspaper  - are transcribed to a blog and vice-versa: a selection of online messages is posted in print in the wall.

Bridging the digital gap: @Verdade posts a selection of citizen reports about the registration process in its weekly print and also in the outer wall of the building housing the newspaper. Passersby can leave their comments which will later be transcribed online.

@Verdade launched a joint newsroom in the beginning of the registration process, partnering with the Public Integrity Center and the Observatório Eleitoral (Electoral Observer) for broader access, outreach, and coverage of citizen stories from across the country. CIP has correspondents in the municipalities and has long experience covering Mozambican elections mainly through its Political Process Bulletin. Observatório Eleitoral is a watchdog from the civil society that counts on 265 observers spread around the country.

After three days trying to get her voter card, Celina Simão, from Nampula, was happy when she finally managed to get it, at the primary school of Barragem, on June 5. Celestino Armando, from Pemba, got his at the secondary school of Cabo Delgado´s capital. Click the image to see @Verdade´s photo albuns on Flickr.

After three days trying to get her voter card, Celina Simão from Nampula was happy when she finally managed to get it at the primary school of Barragem on June 5. Celestino Armando from Pemba got his at the secondary school of Cabo Delgado's capital. Click the image to see @Verdade´s photo albums on Flickr.

The challenge is to create and strengthen a national network of citizen reporters who make use of their mobile phones to share spontaneous reports of what they observe. Jessica Weiss from IJNet explains how @Verdade and partners are building community:

(…) visiting municipalities and polling stations and trying to engage community correspondents. They are also reaching out to local civic networks, community radio stations, international election monitors, taxi drivers and more to help form a web of reliable information about how the registration process is working.

Citizens are helping to answer questions such as: Are polling places open? Are officials present and voters free of intimidation? Is the equipment functioning correctly?

Last day in Maputo. Photo shared by @Verdade on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Last day in Maputo. Photo shared by @Verdade on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Citizen reporters can submit photos and videos via Twitter — the hashtag #autarquicas2013 has been widely used and the handle @DemocraciaMZ is tracking democracy related tweets — or send them by email directly to @Verdade's Flickr and YouTube channel.

So did André Salmone from the northern city of Nampula, who denounced in a video on July 22 that officials from the registration post in the city's Sports Pavilion were allegedly taking bribes from people who didn't want to wait in queue for their turn to be registered:

Citizens also reported on the civic awareness campaign which was carried out throughout the country by more than 2,000 agents trained by the government's Technical Secretariat for Electoral Administration (STAE). Some criticized the campaign for not being visible, effective, or with enough quality, such as a citizen who reported a photo of STAE's poster in the municipality of Marrupa, which wasn't more than a lousy and torn handwritten paper on the wall.

Civic education agents for the electoral registration in the municipality of Catandica on June6. Photo shared by @Verdade on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Civic education agents for the electoral registration in the municipality of Catandica on June 6. Photo shared by @Verdade on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

@Verdade's side website euVoto (I Vote) [pt] gives support to those who want to participate in the “We Are All Observers” campaign by sharing tips, manuals for observers, and laws related to the elections. It also serves as a portal for those who just want to be better informed about the elections. CIP's Political Process Bulletin is there available in the shape of a blog instead of the usual .pdfs.

Primary school Mavalane "A", municipality of Maputo, June 1. Photo shared by @Verdade on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Primary school of Mavalane “A”, Maputo, June 1. Photo shared by @Verdade on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The next phase [pt] of 2013′s electoral process in Mozambique, consists of the registration of political parties, coalitions of parties or groups of citizens who want to run for elections (ongoing until August 6). At the same time, the lists of voters who registered in the 53 municipalities will be available for verification and complaints should there be any irregularity, also until August 6. More and more, Mozambican citizens are showing how to keep the process accountable.

July 09 2013

Mozambique: Tax Justice Campaign

Tax Justice campaign video, by Action Aid

Tax Justice campaign video, by Action Aid

Between 2003 and 2011, tax incentives given by the Mozambican government to mega-projects in the country have cost around 163,701,400 US dollars each year to the public coffers, Action Aid Mozambique reports on its recently launched Tax Justice campaign [pt].
(more…)

June 25 2013

Mozambique's first civic hackathons

Mozambique's Ministry of Science and Technology is sponsoring the country's first civic hackathons, with the support of Sweden and Finland. The second, slated for the end of June, will focus on mobile apps in natural disaster management and flooding scenarios, frequent in the country. First prize is worth €2000.

June 16 2013

Mozambique: Medical professionals end unsuccessful strike

After striking for 27 days, Mozambique's medical professionals announced the end of their collective protest over inadequate compensation, without any concession from government. The strikers claimed they wanted to end the suffering of the nation's people. On @Verdade's Facebook page, readers expressed their frustration with the situation, speculating about how services will be affected by low morale. (more…)

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