April 7 is the anniversary of the death of Josina Michel, the wife of the first Mozambican president Samora Michel, and herself a heroine in the Civil War. So on this day, Mozambicans celebrate their women. As on Heroes’ Day, everyone in Estaquinha paraded down to the town administrative building to lay a wreath at the base of our flagpole. I, my female colleagues, the wives of some of the male teachers, and some of the local women, all bought matching capulanas to wear for the parade, and we prepared some dances and songs to perform in front of the whole community. Later in the day, we had women’s football and volleyball games, with more local women and some female students. I think it’s been about five years since I played soccer and at least eight since I played volleyball, but it was a lot of fun anyway. At night, our same group threw ourselves a party at Etelvina’s house, with cookies and cake we had baked the day before and more dancing. I love how everyone loves to dance here, with a refreshing lack of self-consciousness. Even some of my older, more serious colleagues with school-aged children know how to break it down on the dance floor.
Mozambican Women’s Day was also a great opportunity to get to know my female colleagues better, as we prepared our performance and baked our treats. There are ten of us out of a faculty of about forty, which is a lot and uncommon among female Peace Corps volunteers. It is fun and empowering to feel part of a community of strong and inspiring women here. I appreciated how included they made me feel and how conscious many of them were about reaching out the Ndau women outside of the school and mission community.