The True Spirits
Mistaela Correia was born in 1954 in Gorongosa. When he was 12 years old his grandfather died. As was customary, his family made a traditional ceremony to say goodbye, asking the spirits to receive him well. Traditional beer was brewed and traditional food was made as an offering to please. The entire family was invited and Mistaela was there. The ceremony began upon the setting of the sun, and all were gathered around the veranda, when two lions appeared. They slowly continued with the ceremony—putting the food out on a plate and a calabash of beer filled to the rim. Mistaela and the others clapped their cupped hands to show respect, and as tradition, each tasted a bit of the food and drink. Then the lions started to approach, and they all started to back up a bit—hesitant to run, so they stood, watching calmly as the lions gently approached that which was presented, and ate and drank, a bit—which in Mistaela's tradition signified the spirits' satisfaction with the offering and in turn, the good passing of his grandfather. Though tradition, they were all so surprised and happy that they clapped their cupped hands once again as the lions—the true spirits of their ancestors— turned and walked away into the bush.
It was just after the New Year, January 4, 1995, when Mistaela shared his story with me in his local language—Sena—a familiar story if one looks closely, just masked in the culture of his people.