A lot of people in Mozambique believe in ghosts. They are convinced that we are being guided by seen and unseen forces.
And ghosts have played a singular role in events of the recent past: During the civil war between 1977 to 1993, a million people were killed in Mozambique. The line between friend and foe was not clear and many families had members fighting on both sides. But there was a purification ritual, part of the traditional religion here, that helped locals to deal with the crimes committed during this time.
Men who may have taken part in war crimes returned to their villages. It was believed that when they did these terrible things, the men were not themselves: They had been possessed by ghosts. The spirits were driven out of the humans and community life could go on. On a local scale, this purification ritual really worked in the villages because people believed in it. But we still need to find something similarly useful at the national level. I believe that literature can also help with this; Through our stories we invite people to deal consciously with those traumatic times.
The poignant debut novel by Anuk Arudpragasam recalls the turmoil of civil war in Sri Lanka. more
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