The newly-founded monastery of St Pachomius of the Missionary Benedictines in N’nango near the town of Mocimboa in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado was attacked on 12 May by members of an Islamist terrorist militia. Four monks were able to escape into the bush and made their way through sparsely populated areas to the nearest parish of Imbuho, which is also looked after by Benedictines. There they are currently safe.
The new monastery building was only inaugurated in 2019 as a foundation of Ndanda Abbey in neighbouring Tanzania. It has been looted and outbuildings have been set on fire. More detailed information is not yet available.
The situation in northern Mozambique is determined by decades of neglect of the economic development of this remote area as a late consequence of the civil war in Mozambique. Smuggling of ivory, wood, heroin and rubies is rampant. The discovery of large natural gas deposits off the coast has now also aroused the interest of international players. In the midst of this confusing situation, a terrorist militia of radicalised Islamic youths has emerged over the last 1 ½ decades, which the central government has not yet been able to control and about whose backers not much is known. Experts compare this Mozambican terror militia with Boko-Haram in Nigeria.
The Missionary Benedictines came to this region in 2015 at the request of the Bishop of Pemba to build a Benedictine centre with a clinic, a school for craftsmen and other social projects. The attack on the monastery occurred during a government offensive against the terrorists in the immediate vicinity of the monastery. The attack is a setback. However, it will not stop the work of the Benedictines in this region in the long term.
Ndanda Abbey provides information about the foundation in Mozambique on its website: abbey.ndanda.org.
St Pachomius Monastery, N’nango, and Ndanda Abbey are monasteries of the Benedictine Congregation of Sankt Ottilien – www.ottilien.org.