Friday, July 28, 2006

Rockin with a Message

This past Monday my colleague Narcisso and I got the opportunity to visit Male Yeru (pron. Maalee Yayroo), one of our closest partners here with MMF-MEDA, in the Southern Mozambican town of Bela Vista. The town was hosting a huge celebration in honour of the provincial district of Matatuine, appropriately named “Dia de Matatuine.” The celebrations were actually a three day affair, culminating with the huge party on Monday. Nearly every man, woman and child in the entire district made it out to Bela Vista for the festivities and we were certainly glad we made the hour and a half trip from Maputo.

The reason that we were invited specifically was because Male Yeru was organizing a huge presentation on their HIV/AIDS and Microfinance project and they wanted to give MMF-MEDA full credit for assisting them in this initiative. They were instrumental in organizing the large stage and sound system from which they told stories of their clients, allowed local HIV/AIDS activists to preach their fiery messages of prevention (check out the old lady above!!) and provided a back drop for local drama groups to perform their comical yet poignant skits about sexual responsibility and caring for people living with HIV/AIDS in the community. I was quite impressed with the positive response from the crowd and the amount of respect and praise showered upon Male Yeru by the people of Matatuine. This clearly is an organization that personifies the optimism and integrity of a community committed to social development and a better future for generations to come.

The climax of the afternoon was the boisterous and energetic rock concert featuring the music of the JZ Band from Maputo led by the flamboyant stylings and slick vocals of lead singer Jeremias Nguena. Jeremias is hugely popular here in Mozambique and the people of Matatuine were ecstatic that he came to play a concert in their remote Bela Vista. The show was extremely tight and featured some amazing choreography from the male dancers and back up singers, all dressed in funky army fatigues. I couldn’t help but snap numerous photos of the band before their manager approached me and yelled at me for taking unauthorized pictures. Despite me pleas of blissful ignorance at the time, I was forced to delete the majority of the pictures from my camera. I actually got the chance to sit down for a meal with the band afterwards and we ended up having a good laugh about the whole situation.

The afternoon was wonderful, meeting tons of locals, talking about our project with Male Yeru and soaking in the atmosphere of an African small town festival. It was an absolutely perfect way for Male Yeru to showcase their work with HIV/AIDS and I was honoured to be invited to share in the experience. I loved how the event got the whole community singing and dancing, once again from the fresh faced children barely able to walk to the shriveled, toothless old ladies in their colourful capulanas. As one Male Yeru client told me, such celebrating is essential in Mozambican culture as it reminds us to “stay happy and keep our souls alive.” Amen to that my friend!!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can I just backpack onto you and live vicariously through your super exciting life? I'm loving all the pictures!
Jolene R.

1:24 p.m.  

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