The Archbishop of Canterbury visited Pemba in North Mozambique yesterday to meet with people who’ve been traumatised by conflict, as part of his five-day visit to the country.
Yesterday the Archbishop met two women whose children had been violently killed by insurgents. One of them witnessed the murder of her baby daughter who was just a few months old. The other’s son, her only child, was abducted and killed.
Together with his wife, Caroline, Archbishop Justin Welby also met with Fatima, the mother of 7 month-old twins who’s displaced because of conflict in her home of Ancuabe, a district in Cabo Delgado Province. She is now living with a host family in Pemba who have given her and her children a place to stay.
Speaking of his visit to Pemba, the Archbishop said: “I was greatly moved when I heard about the violence and displacement in Cabo Delgado. In a region that has already suffered so much, the people there carry heavy burdens. Yet they are not crushed. Many in the Church and other faith groups are working tirelessly to bring communities together through dialogue, to heal the wounds of history and to change future prospects. I wanted to visit Pemba personally to stand alongside those who have fled their homes and those showing remarkably generous hospitality to them.”
Preaching during a special Eucharist yesterday at St Mary Magdalene Church to mark his visit the Archbishop said, “I came here to Pemba because I remember you each day in prayer, and I long for the world to support you and to help you. Your journey in these difficult times is an example to the world: a testimony of the love of God and of your faithfulness.”
“And we will speak about you not just as an example, but calling for people to support and help you.”
He particularly focused on women and young people at the service saying after the Eucharist, “Jesus Christ seeks the youth to be warriors of peace and the women to be foundations of peace. Your participation in reconciliation is essential. So my prayers are for all, but especially the youth and women.”
During his time in Pemba the Archbishop met government leaders and Catholic leaders. He also met members of “peace clubs” which were created in 2015 and to bring together young Muslim and Christian leaders. He listened as they described their reconciliation efforts and how the people they help are traumatised and tired by the insurgency in Cabo Delgado Province. He heard how availability of humanitarian aid was sparse, and how people are exhausted and desperate to know when they can go back to their own homes.
The Archbishop’s five day long pastoral visit to Mozambique has focused on solidarity, peace and reconciliation. Today the Archbishop is back in the capital city of Maputo to round up his visit. In Maputo he will talk to young people about their faith, and members of Mothers’ Union and Bernard Mizeki’s Guild.