Saturday, February 26, 2011

If Only...reflections of Mozambique

I would be remiss if I didn't include a video that I produced on my first venture to Africa. My mother spoke of traveling to Africa years ago through her poetry. I asked my mother to narrate the beginning of her poem and I narrated the last part.

The poem is entitled, "If Only", by Raycene Madden.

Joachim Chissano on democracy in Africa and Mozambique

As a conclusion of the African Democracy Project Mozambique at WSU, Joachim Chissano visited Wayne State and spoke on the history of democracy in both Africa and his own country Mozambique. I am including a link to a very interesting presentation on democratization of Mozambique.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Remembering Mozambique

I was trying to remember some of the most impressive times that I spent in Mozambique. Although we were treated very well by President Chissano (former President of Mozambique) and were privileged to interview him, it was a more simpler time that stood out for me. I was reading some of my classmates older blogs and was reminded of a trip to the Gaza province.

During our class we were split into research teams (culture/religion, education/language, health care and elections). My team was the education/language group and we were on a journey to visit Chibuto and Xai Xai in Gaza province, located outside the capital of Maputo. The scenery was breathtaking in its simplicity. There were snapshots of children selling cashews and fish on the road. This was not tourist country but a look into the everyday life of people. There were smiles and taunts as the children approached our van. The cashews were quite delicious too!

As part of our studies, we were curious about native languages and the official language, Portuguese. We looked at language in Mozambique and its impact on the judicial system. We had previously interviewed a University official that told us about how accessible translators were for those who did not speak Portuguese well and had legal problems. We were not necessarily convinced and while traveling, we stopped at a small municipality to ask if translators were available. The officer would not speak to us about it (we believe in fear of his position).

I am certain if finding suitable translators in the United States can be a problem, then a growing country such as Mozambique would have problems as well. Not only did we find that Languages posed a problem in the judicial system, but in education as well. The official number of languages is listed at 43 according to With this many different languages unless student are bi-linguagl at home they may be faced with learning their studies and a new language at the same time.

Online Class on the Continent of Africa

It's been a year since I've posted anything, but since I've visited the "Motherland", Africa is never too far away. I've started an online class at Wayne State University and this time it is studying the continent of Africa.

I'm fortunate to have some perspective from my visit to Mozambique. At least I can dispel some of my own stereotypes that were passed along to me as a young girl through the media, both television and history lessons in school.

One of our assignments was to create a blog for our class. I had created one and thought, "why throw the baby out with the bathwater?" This blog is valuable in its connections to my classmates perspectives of the country (see the links available). I also spent time studying about the country and would like to share what I did learn while studying democracy in the country.

So, here we go....back to Mozambique (via multimedia that is).

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Its been some weeks since I've posted, however memories of Mozambique are never far away. I've been working diligently on a website for elementary, middle and high school student to navigate on their own about the beautiful and mysterious country...Mozambique, Africa.

There are opportunities for teachers to download a PowerPoint presentation and lesson plans to edit for their students. Students can read on their own about the history, culture and view pictures that we took while in Maputo and surrounding provinces. There is even a currency conversion link to see how far your dollars would go in Meticals (Mozambican currency).

Visit the site often, as I will be adding links and changing pictures to the gallery...enjoy!!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Magnificent Mozambique for Students

As mentioned in my October blog, I was able to share my enthusiasm about our project to Mozambique during their elections with Mr. Massucci’s students at East Hills Middle School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. I was excited at the level of interest and enthusiasm that these middle school students portrayed in our project. I began to think about how I could extend additional information to these and other students that may be interested in African countries. I decided that my individual project would provide students with information that we found during our stay in Mozambique using what students love best…technology.
I thought that creating a website would be useful for both teachers and students to explore different aspects of Mozambique. The website would be a living document, which could be continually updated with student blogs about what they’ve learned. It would also be used by teachers as a way to differentiate instruction by allowing students to work at their individual pace through the unit.
I thought about these students as I traveled from South Africa to travel to Maputo, Mozambique. It is absolutely inadequate to describe the vibrant colors and flurry of activity that we encountered. I then decided to add a photo gallery to capture the essence of what we observed. While reading about the election process, they can see pictures (and eventually) videos of people voting in Maputo and the surrounding areas.
As soon as we arrived in Maputo, we learned that we would meet and interview the former President of Mozambique, Joaquim Chissano! The interview process was phenomenal, he took at least an hour to answer questions about Mozambican health care, education and the provided insight into some history of languages in Mozambique. Students visiting the website will be able to see still photos of our meeting and do additional research on Chissano, Guebuza or any other political leaders from Mozambique.
As our larger project team split into our individual groups (health care, education, and culture) as well as our role to observe elections, I thought that students using the website will be able to see what we’ve discovered real-time. Our project teams could post the results of their interviews with religious leaders, medical leaders and see interviews from the University Eduardo Mondlane.
The African Democracy Project Mozambique provides students with a global perspective of democracy. Using web-based instruction methods, students will learn about Mozambican culture, political ideologies and health care concerns. To visit the website visit Remember to visit the site periodically as additional materials are continually being added.
There is an opportunity to blog about what you’ve learned, or provide suggestions for other materials. The site is currently geared toward high school students, but extensions to other grade levels are forthcoming!!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Jimmy and Johannesburg

As an African-American student, my thoughts about spending a few days in South Africa were mixed. Although Apartheid has been abolished, I am cognizant of how behaviors of a country tend to take decades to catch up to laws and policies enacted (think about the evolution of civil rights in the US, for example). Questions about how I would be treated swirled in my head. Will there be occasions where I may be treated differently than some of my classmates?? ?Will the distinction between races be extremely evident??
Flying to South Africa, I noticed that the majority of our crew members (except for the pilot) were African and not your standard American size 0 (another topic, another time). Landing in South Africa was not very different than landing in Detroit Metropolitan airport. The airport was modern with nice shops and easy access to transportation.
Since we were time constrained in terms of really experiencing South Africa, we were fortunate to have a tour guide to show us the good, the bad and the ugly in Johannesburg, South Africa. Without a doubt, the highlight of our tour was the tour guide himself, Jimmy, the CEO, Owner and operator of the tour company that we were fortunate to have.
I was lucky enough to be the front seat rider and recipient of the many comments and lessons about Johannesburg (except for the,
see can we miss the pedestrian
driving techniques that I never became accustomed to). According to Jimmy, he spoke about 18 different languages (we were privy to at least hearing at least 4 of them) and had traveled to most states in our very own country. One thing for sure, he knew enough about most topics to either have experienced them first-hand or possess a skill that most networking students would die for.
Jimmy promised us that we would see the
good, the bad and the ugly
of Johannesburg and Soweto and he didn't disappoint us. We could have gone on a typical tour that would not give you an indication of how most people live in the area. With Jimmy, we saw evidence of all walks of life. We saw shantytowns, but we also saw very nicely manicured brick homes. He took us to what he called Zulu-land, which reminded me of a small flea market. People in this area were of Zulu descent and spoke a few different languages based upon their region of origin. He introduced us to men with scarring on their faces and told us of rites of passage ceremonies. The spirit of entrepreneurialism was alive and well in this area.
One of the highlights of my time in South Africa was the visit to the Apartheid Museum. Although, it was both emotional and uplifting to see the progress South Africa has made as a result of abolishment of this tyranny, I couldn't help to think of the long lasting effect this type of oppression has on a people. I read a summary during my visit that described how students were not to be educated to the level of their white peers because they were only to be employed in subservient positions. I think this was more emotional for me than the room of nooses for some reason. The long-term effect of years and years of opportunities loss through the purposeful ?under-education? of a people based on race alone was too much for me to absorb. It made me sad on so many levels. On another note, Jimmy and I discussed the idea of opening a museum for the mine workers; his stories about them were intriguing.
The good news is that my initial fears about visiting South Africa did not come to fruition. Spending only a few days in this country, I did not personally see or experience any discrimination. I wonder if this would be true if I stayed for months.