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Thursday 5 September 2019

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Pope Francis waves to wellwishers as he leaves after a meeting at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in the capital Maputo, Mozambique, Sept. 5, 2019.

Hope, peace, and reconciliation were the three main pillars of Pope Francis’s message to lawmakers and youth Thursday during his first papal visit to Mozambique.

Thousands of young Catholics packed a Maputo stadium to hear that message in a nation that, for decades, has struggled with conflict.

The pontiff was greeted Wednesday night by President Filipe Nyusi, who is running for re-election in October in a contentious poll in which rival parties have already begun to sling mud at each other.

Pope Francis waves to wellwishers as he leaves after a meeting at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in the capital Maputo, Mozambique Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019.

But on Thursday, the Pope did not pander to Mozambique’s leadership when pointing out their higher responsibility to honor a recent peace deal. Both sides in the peace talks have recently accused the other of violating the fragile deal, signed in August.

“As we know, peace is not merely absence of war but a tireless commitment — especially on the part of those of us charged with greater responsibility — to recognize, protect and concretely restore the dignity, so often overlooked or ignored, of our brothers and sisters, so that they can see themselves as the principal protagonists of the destiny of their nation,” Francis said.

Papal visits always come with plenty of pomp. The pope was greeted throughout with dancing, music, red carpets, bands and even some plentifully plumed peacocks at the presidential palace.But those who came to hear him say they took deep meaning from his words. Thirty-four-year-old civil society campaigner Brenda Campos says she took to heart his entreaties for Mozambicans to look beyond their differences.

Nuns take photos as Pope Francis presides over a meeting at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, in Maputo, Mozambique, Sept. 5, 2019.

“His key message is that diversity is important, that you need to be united, even though we have diversity in our country,” she told VOA. “It doesn’t matter. We have to have unity if we want to reconcile, if we want peace, if we want to view the better Mozambique.”

The pope will leave for Madagascar on Friday, and from there, to Mauritius. But Mozambicans say his message will linger here for a long time.

Maputo resident and seminary student DeClerk Nazare, 24, says the pontiff gave him a lot of material on which to reflect, spiritually and academically. But, he said, on this colorful, triumphant day, it all came down to one thing.

“Everyone is happy with the visit of the Holy Father in Mozambique,” he said.

FILE: Pedestrians pass burnt out cars on the side of a street on the outskirts of Johannesburg, Monday Sept. 2, 2019.

A 45-year old Zimbabwean commercial truck driver, Emmanual Manyere, has lost all his belongings and now wants to go back home after the place he was renting in Jeppestown near Johannesburg was attacked by a suspected South African gang, claiming that foreigners are grabbing all jobs and selling dangerous drugs to locals.

In an interview, Manyere said the assailants, believed to be an anti-immigrants gang known as Mzansi Wethu (Our South Africa), invaded his place two days ago, burnt his clothes, bed, and other belongings while he was at work.

“… They attacked Jeppestown where I’m staying. They managed to break into the house and they took whatever they wanted and they burnt everything, things like (my) refrigerator, radio, tv (television) and when I came from work I found nothing. Right now I’m left with the clothes I was putting on that day. At the moment I haven’t gone back to work because I don’t even have (decent) clothes.

“… As I’m talking to you right now I haven’t been going to work for one week and here is South Africa as a foreigner if you don’t go to work you don’t get paid and you can’t go to work with rubbish clothes. So, I need to raise some money to buy some (the company) uniform that was burnt. My situation is really, really bad … And I really don’t know, I really don’t know what I will do next. It’s really bad.”

He now lives at a friend’s place in Olivine near Johannesburg.

Manyere, a father of five, said his family wants him to come back home as his life is now in danger in South Africa.

“All of them are saying come back home father, come back baba, come back but as Africans you can’t get back home without something (for your family). If I can raise some money, I’m thinking of going back home. I’m so traumatized.”

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