Women and food security in Mozambique : introducing theologies of Okhala.
This study investigates the theological resources of poor and semi-literate women of the Union Baptist Church in Murrupula District, Nampula province, Mozambique in the context of food insecurity and poverty. It makes use of the Sustainable Livelihoods Framework as a tool to analyse the vulnerability context of Murrupula women in relation to the existing livelihood assets. It also uses the notion of survival theologies to analyse the theological resources that Murrupula women have and use in their struggle to survive within a context of food insecurity. The study aims to recover the theological resources of women in order to contribute to a relevant contextual theology for social transformation in Mozambique. It is a qualitative study based on interviews, field observation and personal experience. The data was collected through semi-structured interviews with ten women. The women interviewed were between the ages of eighteen to seventy years old relying on the practice of subsistence agriculture as their main source of livelihood. The findings reveal that women have theological resources they use in their response to food insecurity, poverty and illness. These include women’s faith, prayer and agricultural work, networking and fundraising groups. Women rely on God, through prayer, toprovide for all their needs. Their network functions as a safe social site and is an important resource for spiritual, physical and economic support. The study argues that the theological resources of these women are important for their own and their households’survival and well-being. The findings also reveal that Murrupula women do not only literally survive, but have a desire to live a full and quality life despite poverty and food insecurity. They do so through their use of agricultural work as a livelihood and survival strategy which is not only about producing food, but is also about a process of wellbeing. This study thus argues that the theological resources of Murrupula women indicate that they live by theologies of okhala. Okhala means life and well-being. Its usage describes the life conditions and well-being of people. In introducing theologies of okhala, the study proposes the need for further research into the full recovery of the notion of okhala and its theological significance for the Makhuwa Christian community.