First of all I would like to thank Mario Giro, the chairperson of this very rich panel. Furthermore thanks to all of you who came to this panel. What I will share today is basically a testimony of what Mozambique, my homeland, and its people experience a peaceful life after a long period of struggle.
Our experience as a country is that, one might always find personal reason to start a conflict or at least to persuade it. But the reasons and the willing of living in peace are always greater than personal motivations to war, because peace is as valued as life. War is never an alternative to peace. Peace is always better than war. I personally know and remember how terrible the war was during those dark years in Mozambique. I can’t forget the horrible images of deaths, starvation. There were no schools, no hospitals and no freedom. My parents were separated from each due to obligatory military services. I and my sister stayed abandoned when she was 4 and I was 2 years old. War separates families. I remember very well my mother after 3 years in forced war, she escaped from the army and in order not to be identified, she had to change her personal identification, names and provenience because she didn’t want to fight. I came to see my father only after 14 years. These memories make me today be an artesian of peace in all senses. Being part of San’Egidio, the promoter of peace in my country constitutes a great gratitude.
Peace achievement is still the greatest success that the Mozambicans celebrate, despite the problems prevailing in the country.
I received the good news about the peace agreement on 4th October 1992 when I was 8. It was a moment characterized of joy in my entire village. People at all age were celebrating, dancing traditional songs, praising the Lord for peace. We were all close to the radio for further information. From there on, I and other children started going to primary school for the first time.
The war has killed over a million of brothers and sisters and had completely destroyed our country. War never again.
Mozambique today has nearly 30 million inhabitants and almost half of it were born after the Rome Peace Agreement signed after more than a two-years peace negotiations held by the Community of Sant'Egídio. It means that a new generation in Mozambique knows nothing about war. It is a generation of peace. Here is the sense: the peace has created a new identity of the entire generation. The youth generation of peace is the pride of entire country, and it is a guarantee of the present and as well as the future of peace.
Nevertheless, Mozambicans know that peace building is an issue of everyday.
In the recent visit of Pope Francis, he personally met thousands of young boys and girls. The Pope in the meeting said "you are the joy of today and the hope of tomorrow". Mozambicans, despite various and enormous problems today, are proud of being a people who through reconciliation defeated the war and chose peace. The peace agreement of 1992 wasn't only a political agreement, it was indeed the inauguration of a new culture that would later on guide and govern a society which had lost its identity, under pressure of humiliation, exploration and colonization. In the 60’s Kapuscinsky described Mozambique as “for 500 years Mozambique has been looted of its best workers, of its best youth. It is a country of a broken backbone, looted and explored for centuries”. Today I can proudly say completely different. Mozambique is a new country with peace. It is brilliant with it diversities in culture, religions and politics. As we all know, up to 1992 Mozambique was the poorest country throughout the world, and today after recovering its identity and pride of peace, comes to be one of the most economic prominent country in Africa.
Peace today is our treasure. The role of Sant'Egídio in Mozambique continues of keep the memory of peace alive. I remember the 4th October came to be considered a national holiday only in 2002, ten years later, but the Community of Sant’Egidio in Mozambique always celebrated it through different initiatives. President Nyusi visiting Sant'Egídio for the first time in September last year in Rome said that it was an historical place for peace, and at the end of his visit remarked: "Sant'Egídio is a house of peace".
Our challenge today is not to lose the enthusiasm of living in peace with all, and continue working for peace, daily. Problems will always be there, but dialogue and reconciliation are the unique safe and fair paths to peace. Fortunately, today the Mozambican politicians recognize that the dialogue and reconciliation are the accepted and convincing methods for a long lasting peace.
Dear sisters and brothers, I think it is fair to congratulate all those who have worked hard during a very difficult period of the civil war, for the courage and faith to adventure in a so distant country to save the whole nation. Special thanks to Andrea Riccardi and Matteo Zuppi for their direct involvement on the negotiations. They teach us to be really actors on seeking the well-being of others. They were free to simply be spectators of our suffering and daily deaths, however, they preferred to do different on behalf of Sant’Egidio and in the name of God.