Church, State and People in Mozambique : An Historical Study with Special Emphasis on Methodist Developments in the Inhambane Region

University dissertation from Uppsala : Swedish Institute of Missionary Research, Uppsala

Abstract: King Ngungunyana was the lord of the mighty Gaza Empire, covering most of the interior Mozambique south of the Zambezi and parts of present Zimbabwe, when the Portuguese in 1885 were requested by the Berlin Congress to accelerate their colonization. The small enclaves around certain port towns were no longer sufficient, in order to claim the territory as one's colony. "Effective occupation" was the new precept, leading very soon to conflict with King Ngungunyana and, in 1895, the defeat of the Gaza Empire. Thus began Portugal's factual colonization of Mozambique.A few years earlier, Protestant missionaries of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Mission bad attempted to begin mission work within the Gaza Empire. Although invited by the King, the effort failed and the missionaries settled near the town of Inhambane, within the Portuguese realm.Catholic Missions, which had been successful during the previous centuries, had ceased to function in all Mozambique, as Religious Orders bad been prohibited since 1834. Seemingly, the arrival of Protestants to Inhambane and also to Lourenço Marques, however, stimulated the Catholic Church into action, and around 1890 new Missions were established "to combat the Protestant propaganda". Meanwhile, the American Board missionaries withdrew, and from 1893 we find American Methodists working in their stead.Part Two of the dissertation deals with the time of the Republic in Portugal, from 1910. Strongly anti-clerical, the Republicans enforced the separation of the Church from the State. This led to difficult times for the Catholic Missions in Mozambique, while it facilitated, somewhat, the task of the Protestants. However, the urge to "civilize the natives" gradually made the Republicans accept the Catholic Missions as "civilizing factors". The spirit of this period allowed for the development of the first Independent African Churches in Mozambique, as well as a first African attempt at political independence.Part Three, 1926-1960, pictures the firmer political grip of "0 Estado Novo", under dictator Antonio Salazar. Forced labour and oppression were the lot of the people, and the Portuguese Catholic Church became the "spiritual arm of the State". "Portugalization" was the new formula. This placed all education of the Africans into the bands of the Catholic Missions, simultaneously closing all Protestant village schools. The period is characterized by a "tug-of-war" between Catholics and the Protestants, who survived by experimentation with new methods and, paradoxically, grew in numbers.The final part of this dissertation, 1961-1974, deals with the Liberation Struggle of FRELIMO, and the Portuguese response. The Portuguese Catholic Church was still, unfailingly, supporting the political regime and its war efforts. Gradually, a growing force of opposition within the Church became courageously active. Meanwhile, Protestant Missions prepared for the future by "africanizing" their structures, and some were made to suffer for alleged subversion, before the "Carnation Revolution" in 1974 put a sudden end to war activities.I suggest that several elements within the Church history of Mozambique contributed to the negative attitude towards religion, which was displayed by FRELIMO during the first years of independence.

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