Sussex alumnus helps to empower communities in Mozambique

Narciso Mahumana, traditional healer and University of Sussex alumnus

A University of Sussex alumnus is using education to empower communities in one of the poorest countries in the world. 

Narciso Mahumana worked as a ‘nyamusoro’, a type of traditional healer, in Mozambique before travelling to the UK to study for a Masters degree and then a Doctorate at Sussex.

After completing his studies he returned to the African country, where many people survive on less than two dollars a day, to launch a university aimed at driving local development.

Narciso, who graduates with a PhD on Friday (22 January), explains: “We started with very little money and we still don’t have enough, but since 2014 we have awarded 22 scholarships to local boys and girls.

“We now have 400 students, and we expect 100 more new students this coming February.”

The Higher Institute of Local Development Studies (ISEDEL) in Mozambique has been running since 2013 and offers courses in education, the environment, public administration and public health.

Narciso’s grandfather and grandmother were both traditional healers, and as a child his father was an ambulance driver who often brought him along on visits to hospitals.

When he grew older Narciso practised as a healer and eventually rose to become one of the leaders of PROMETRA, a pan-African network of organisations that promote traditional medicine.

He has always been fascinated with the differing worlds of his father and his grandparents, and as a student at Sussex he explored the relationship between indigenous medicine and state health care.

“Both indigenous medicine and biomedicine deliver health services in Mozambique, and patients establish multiple relationships with the available ‘healers’,” he says.

“Indigenous medicine has to be developed along with biomedicine because it is widely available in nearly all Mozambican communities, plays an integral part in our medical culture and heritage, and has an important role in shaping of local public health.”

While coming to the UK was not without its challenges, Narciso enjoyed studying at the University.

“I had a very good experience at Sussex and met very wonderful friends. I was challenged by the leap from teacher­‑led to self‑guided learning, the extremely low temperatures, and my English language skills…but I made it.”

Posted on behalf of: Global Studies
Last updated: Thursday, 21 January 2016