Makhuwa, Nahara in Mozambique

Makhuwa, Nahara
Photo Source:  Steve Evans  Creative Commons  Used with permission
Map Source:  People Group location: IMB. Map geography: ESRI / GMI. Map design: Joshua Project.
People Name: Makhuwa, Nahara
Country: Mozambique
10/40 Window: No
Population: 503,000
World Population: 503,000
Primary Language: Makhuwa
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 0.02 %
Evangelicals: 0.02 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Bantu, Makua-Yao
Affinity Bloc: Sub-Saharan Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

There are several possibilities regarding the origin of the name "Nahara." The most likely origin stems from the Arabic word "nahar" which is the word for river in some Arabic dialects. A lot of trade was done between Arabs and then Makhuwas at river mouths. The Arabs could well have called these Makhhwa people "The river people" or "Nahar" people. They live in rural communities on the coast of Northern Mozambique. Catching fish is their main vocation. There are clear ethnic and cultural differences between the Nahara and Makhuwa people living further inland. The Nahara tend to be blunt by African standards and are extremely conservative and suspicious towards change of any kind. They are also dishonest and do not trust each other easily. They tend to keep to themselves and rarely form friendships with outsiders or other ethnic groups.

The cultural center of the Nahara is located on the Ilha de Mocambique, the island after which the country was named. The Ilha was at one time firmly in Arab hands. This century-old Arab influence has certainly contributed to what being Nahara means today.

The areas in which the Makhuwa Nahara live are among those with the lowest educational level in Mozambique. There are some elementary schools, and in a few centers there are even secondary schools. Nonetheless, most men and almost all women are illiterate. The Nahara see no value in education and thus often fail to take advantage of the educational programs in existence. They prefer a simple lifestyle and do not mind being dependent on others who are more educated and can solve their problems for them.

Where Are they Located?

On the coast of Mozambique, in Mossuril, Nacala-a-Velha, and Memba districts.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Nahara are deeply rooted in Islam, although many are unfamiliar with the details of Islamic doctrine. As in other regions of Africa, Islam and animist practices are closely intertwined. While Muslim leaders renounce spiritualism, associated practices still play a significant role in people's daily lives. Such practices include certain rituals after funerals or before building a house, ancestor worship, and divination.

Makhuwa churches do exist in the immediate vicinity of Nahara settlements, but most of these churches have not yet found a way to reach the hearts of the Nahara.

What Are Their Needs?

Traditionally, people work as fishermen or till their own fields, raising manioc - yuca. Today some work in trade, and a few are self-taught craftsmen. Parents need to see the importance of a good education for their children. Very low literacy levels inhibit progress on several fronts. Literacy rates for men are given as about 20%, and for women as about 5%.

Prayer Points

* Please pray for the availability of good schools for Nahara children, and that parents will send their children to school.
* Pray for spiritual release from the power of occultish practices.
* Pray the Lord will give spiritual understanding to the Nahara, and will give them saving faith in his son, Jesus Christ.
* Pray for teachers and pastors to be available to instruct new believers in the ways of the Lord, leading them to spiritual maturity and fruitfulness.

Text Source:   Joshua Project