Archive for CULTURE

Reclaiming Our Names Reclaims Our Identify

Posted in Awareness, CULTURE, HISTORY, Spotlight with tags , , , on September 22, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

Some ask, “What’s in a name?” The answer is, “Our identity.” Names signify one’s origin. Most African names have meaning and were traditionally given with that in mind. African names were a reflection of the child’s personality, heritage, or birth.

Colonial names have replaced traditional African names since the 1700’s. Countries, rivers, natural wonders, and kingdoms of Africa were routinely renamed by European colonizers. Even school children of Africa were renamed with ‘Christian’, English, German, or Spanish sir-names by colony, missionary teachers or baptisms. As a result of the slave trade, people of the African Diaspora were given the names of plantation owner’s as a sign of his ‘ownership’. After 300 years of slavery, the people of the African Diaspora no longer knew their forefathers’ names. Heritage records, family trees, and often even birth records were not kept on enslaved people. Records of heritage were maintained better on horses and dogs.

Since the 1960’s people of African descent have been returning to names of their forefathers. Of course for people of the African Diaspora, these are not actual family names, yet they serve as a link to lost family ties. Independence of African countries won:

  • Independence
  • Renaming of the country
  • Renaming of  her children
  • Renaming of  her landmarks

Many people understand the need to return to our natural names. Others do not. Some think it is a dishonor to our parents who named us. Consider it a gift of honor to our parents.  Honor for all those before us that had no real choice in the lost of family names. Consider it honoring our parents with names that reflect pride in our identity. Consider it a way of saying “thank you” to all those who came before us. This is my gift:

  • A bridge to our forefathers
  • Pride in our identity
  • Independence  of the effects of slavery

My identity is not reflected in Deborah Mazon. My identity is in Mijiza Zeyzey. I am part of the African Diaspora. I am reclaiming my identity. I am giving the gift of independence, pride, and gratitude to my family.

Aboriginal Art

Posted in Awareness, CULTURE, Oceania with tags , , on June 11, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

Aboriginal art is filled with traditional content and meaning. Art represents the beliefs of the Aboriginal people. It symbolizes Dreaming and other concepts in the Aboriginal world. Dancing, singing, bodying decorations, sand drawing, and basket weaving are all a part of Dreaming. Aboriginal art takes on many forms such as rock paintings, ground drawings, body painting and decoration. Styles, methods, materials, and meanings vary.

Contemporary methods of producing art are seen throughout central and northern Australia. Acrylic painting on canvas and many other commercial methods are being used today. The paintings still hold the same classic elements of Aboriginal life and art.

Symbols such as circles, curved lines, and straight lines are used to represent camp sites, waterholes, or places of significance. Each symbol has its own meaning. “U” shapes may represent people and straight lines may represent a traveled path. Dotted motifs and designs are trademarks of contemporary Aboriginal Art.

The Changing Culture of Mozambique

Posted in HISTORY, Mother Africa with tags , , , on March 28, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

Conclusion

Restoration

Floods, elections, and time have brought the Mozambican culture to a process of restoring and rebuilding. Refugees from the civil war resettled and political stability enabled economic growth from reforms. Inflation was reduced and trade resumed as a profitable part of the economy.

With the stabilizing of the government, changes in laws that affect social and cultural development have also been created and continue to grow. These changes promote an acceptable balance in tradition and development.  One such law is the new Family Law of March 2005. Before this law women’s work loads were overwhelming with no opportunities for improvement without a man. The new Family Law provides; changes in marriage laws, changes in social status, and aid in adjusting. With the new law women are allowed equal rights and status of men.

The Changing Culture of Mozambique

Posted in HISTORY, Mother Africa with tags , , , on March 28, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

Part VI

Civil War

Civil war soon followed and lasted from 1977 to 1992. During that time the villages suffer from the quos that resulted from the divided focus. Mozambique becomes a target for more and more violent attacks. Communities become unsafe. Soldiers from both sides begin going through villages raping, killing, and kidnapping. The economy crumbles due to drought, floods, and the inability to trade.

In September 1984 FRELIMO changes the socialist policies to meet the criteria of IMF and the World Bank.  FRELIMO acknowledges the people’s desire for traditions to return. The Mozambicans’ greatest desire was for peace and a chance to enjoy life without forced labor, war, or the void of their traditions.

The Changing Culture of Mozambique

Posted in HISTORY, Mother Africa with tags , , , on March 26, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

Part IV

Socialism

In 1974, colonial wars in Mozambique, Angola, and Guinea Bissau weaken the fascist regimes. On September 7, 1974, FRELIMO’s president Samora Machel and the Portuguese minister of foreign affairs agree to a cease-fire and the independence of Mozambique. FRELIMO headed the transitional government and in 1975 and the country’s name changed to the People’s Republic of Mozambique.

To help decide on and facilitate the changes committees are formed throughout the country. Most of the white settlers had left the country at this point. Restarting industry and farming was essential to aid in solving the problems that existed throughout society. Hospitals and schools that were once private were made public.  In order to benefit the all within the community banks and companies were nationalized.

In March of 1976 the borders were closed to Rhodesia which still had colonization though a white minority regime. Support was given to ZANU, Zimbabwean African National Union.

The Portuguese language continued to be spoken by the majority. Bantu languages Yao and Makua are spoken in the north with Swahili being the chosen language along the northern coast. In the south Tsoga is spoken and in the Zambezi Valley Nyanja is spoken. English is occasionally used when dealing with tourists or former British colonies.

The Mozambicans were originally Animism. Animism is the belief that souls exists in all living things such as plants, animals, rivers, and even in natural phenomena such as thunder or lightening. When the Arabians arrived they introduced Islam and when the Portuguese ruled, they introduced Christianity. After the demise of colonialism, religious freedom became a part of the constitution although ill feelings lingered towards Roman Catholicism. It was seen as a tool of the oppression brought by colonialism.

The Changing Culture of Mozambique

Posted in HISTORY, Mother Africa with tags , , , on March 25, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

Part III

Resistance

In 1959, a group of African farmers broke from the Portuguese control and form co-operatives. By 1960, the leaders of this movement were in prison, but the movement carried progressed. On June 16, 1960 more than 500 Africans were killed in a peaceful demonstration now known as the Mueda Massacre. The massacre inspired the Swahili to continue to resist the oppression they lived in. Other African nations were also winning their independence during that time. Tanzania, Rhodesia, and Malawi were also fighting the ruling governments in their land.

In 1961, the government ended forced labor. After Tanzania won their independence in 1962, the newly elected president forms FRELIMO (Front for the Liberation of Mozambique) to support Mozambican resistance. On September 25, 1964 the first shots were fired by the Mozambicans against the Portuguese rule.

With the support of Frelimo, farmers were able to take back provinces and weaken the Portuguese control by 1966. In 1969 the Portugal’s secret police, PIDE, assassinated FRELIMO’s president and increased soldiers in Mozambique. NATO sent weapons in support of the colonization of Mozambique and South Africa. NATO considered their colonizers as “friends during the cold war” and the Swahili fight for independence as guerrilla warfare.

The Changing Culture of Mozambique

Posted in HISTORY, Mother Africa with tags , , , on March 24, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

Part II

Colonization

In 1498, Portuguese explorers arrived. Upon seeing the thriving economy he returned with arms and Mozambique became a colony of Portugal by 1505. By 1510, Portugal had taken control of the trading and by 1515 had expanded their colonization to include gold mining in their conquest. Overtaking the people, their rights, and culture was also part of the Portuguese conquest. The Swahili were forced to work the farms and mines. A class system developed placing Portuguese land owners called prazeiros in control. The Mestizos were mixed with African and Portuguese descent and were next in line in the social structure. The Swahilis were last and the poorest of the population. In the late 1700’s Portugal included enslavement of Africans as part of their trade commodities.

During this time the existing culture of the Swahili suffered. This was a time of loss; a loss of independence, a loss of freedom, a loss of economy, and a loss of family.

In 1926, Portugal’s government was overturned by a fascist coup. The ensuing military dictatorship formed harsher and more violent conditions in the colonies for the Swahili.  The new government ruled by Antonio Oliveira Salazar, had alliances with the governments that ruled the colonies in neighboring Rhodesia and South Africa. Roads and railways were built to make it convenient to Rhodesia and South Africa to benefit also from the looting of Mozambique.

In 1932 all contracts with neighboring countries ended and poor Portuguese citizens were encouraged to move to Mozambique. With the new immigrants came a flood of social problems. Salazar ruled with a system similar to apartheid. Schools and other social benefits were for whites only. An estimated 93% of native Mozambicans were illiterate.

Missions of the Catholic Church were the only source of basic education, aid, and essentials such as food that was available to native Mozambicans. This came with a price; to receive basic education and needs they were required to deny their own beliefs, language, and culture. This furthered the loss to Mozambican culture (the Swahili culture). According to the national census about 40% of the population converted to Christianity, 40% remained with traditional beliefs, and only 20% remained with Muslin beliefs.