A mosque on the island of Mozambique

The South African nation, Mozambique, gives its people the full right to practice the religion of their choice. However, there are no official religious holidays, but it allows its people to take time off on their respective religious days. In this regard, it would be interesting to explore religious beliefs in Mozambique.

Christianity – Majority Religion

Portugal colonized Mozambique in the middle of the 18th century. Previously, the Arabs ruled it. The Portuguese introduced Mozambicans to Christianity in the 16th century. Thus, it was after colonization that religion became popular in the country. Millions of people not only adopted the Portuguese way of dressing, but also embraced their religion during the long colonial rule of more than two hundred years. Currently, about 28.4% of the country’s inhabitants practice Roman Catholic Christianity.

About 10.9% of people in Mozambique practice a deviation from Roman Catholic Christianity. They are the followers of evangelical Protestant Christianity. Similarly, 15.5% of the population practices Zionist Protestant Christianity and a measly 1.3% follows Anglican Protestant Christianity with their own interpretation of the religion.

Many traditional beliefs of the local people have been incorporated into Christian practices. Another interesting aspect of religion in Mozambique is that an astonishing 18.7% strongly believe that there is no God. They are atheists or agnostics and refrain from engaging in religious practices.

Islam

Mozambicans became acquainted with Islam via Arab traders long before the arrival of the Portuguese, i.e. in the 8th century. They built mosques along the coasts of the country, which they frequented for commercial purposes. Gradually they came into contact with African chiefs and people in the hinterland. However, the people of the coasts embraced Islam more than the rest of the country, but it was never by force as in the case of other parts of the world. Even now, 17.9% of the population follows Islam and is predominantly Sunni. They are indigenous Mozambicans, people of South Asian descent, North Africans and immigrants from the Middle East. Traditional cultural beliefs like giving importance to ancestors and witchcraft coexist with Islamic beliefs. Even the Swahili language spoken by a large portion of the population has an abundance of Arabic words in its vocabulary.

Traditional beliefs

Traditional animal beliefs are widespread in Mozambique. They believe that the ancestors of spirits have profound power to influence the fate of living people. Thus, they worship their ancestors and remember them at every important ceremony held within the family such as birthdays, marriage and death. They even believe that forests, mountains and lakes play a major role in the life of local communities. They offer frequent prayers to the spirits of animate and inanimate objects of nature instead of offering the same to the gods.

Religious beliefs in Mozambique

Rank Self-identified belief system Share of Mozambican population
1 Roman Catholic Christianity 28.4%
2 Atheist or Agnostic 18.7%
3 Islam (mainly Sunni) 17.9%
4 Zionist Protestant Christianity 15.5%
5 Evangelical Protestant Christianity 10.9%
6 Other beliefs 7.3%
7 Anglican Protestant Christianity 1.3%