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The Dawn In Mozambique


“We live in such a safe environment that we get disconnected from nature, and people don’t appreciate how most of the world lives,” says Michael Core, a member of the Thomas Aquinas College President’s Council from Thousand Oaks, California. “I wanted to give an experience to a TAC graduate that would take them way out of their normal element.” 

In August, he did just that: thanks to Mr. Core’s generosity, new graduate Marius Covington (’23) spent a month living, working, and hunting in Mozambique. 

“I’ve been to Africa 28 times in 28 years,” Mr. Core explains. “It’s a different world, and opened my eyes the first time I went. I wanted to repeat that for other people.” He hopes to establish a nonprofit organization to give students the opportunity to experience Africa for years to come. “The idea is to take a TAC student who is sincerely thinking about a religious vocation and give him or her a real adventure, to get a different perspective on life which will hopefully resonate in his decision.” 

Mr. Covington certainly returned with a different perspective, described in the letter below. 


“The Freedom of Africa”

by Marius Covington (CA’23)


This fall I had the opportunity to spend one month living in the African bush. My sponsor, who is a Thomas Aquinas College benefactor, wanted to send a TAC graduate on an unexpected adventure to Africa. I spent my time at a wildlife reserve of roughly 1 million acres in northwest Mozambique, living in an open-air tent. I accompanied anti-poaching units, learned from the professional hunters, shot and skinned my first impala, and immersed myself in the diverse African ecosystem of wildlife living in the veldt

Marius skins his first Impala

I learned a lot during my time in Mozambique. As many do, I learned to fear and respect nature. At night I would be awakened by lions wandering through my camp. The first time I heard them, they were probably five yards from my tent, and I did not dare even blink an eye. Solely from their grunts I was able to get a feel of their size and strength. Over the course of the month, I grew accustomed to the lions — but the fear never quite left me. 

I have a new perspective on life and a stronger sense of responsibility to use the freedom with which I have been blessed. My time in the bush reminded me of the Old Testament. The struggle for life among the animals and the humans was very tangible. In the bush, you can feel the absence of peace — nature is out to get you, and you have to cheat death to survive. Even the sunsets felt stark, rough, but still beautiful. 

Life there is very fragile. One experience highlighting this fact occurred on the Zambezi river, which flows through the city of Tete. I watched a young man, his wife, and his child leave a small island in a little canoe, heading for the shore. Just moments earlier I had seen crocodiles and hippos swimming through that area. With bad luck, the young man could have encountered these animals, and would have been guaranteed death. Yet his canoe eventually made it to the other shore, and this experience will be a reminder for me for the rest of my life.

The poverty and simplicity of the people struck me. Most Mozambicans have only one set of clothes, and their diet consists mainly of maize and vegetables — and occasionally some meat, if they can afford it. Life in the bush is not complicated. Mozambicans generally do not plan ahead, but rather solve problems as they arise. They are known for saying, “Let’s make a plan.” They are extremely resourceful. My cook was able to sew the soles of my boots using only a piece of wire and some thread. 

And I have not yet mentioned the most common African characteristic: laughter and generous hospitality. Of all the people I have met, Mozambicans seem to be the happiest, despite their general poverty. I never heard them complain; the only feeling that I got from them was gratitude for their jobs and the few things they owned. The Mozambicans I met were living a hard but good life.

This is the invaluable lesson I took from my trip: to be more grateful for the many blessings that I have and to make a greater effort to use these blessings correctly. This is a cliché — most people who have spent some time in Africa share this feeing with me. However, I left Africa not only with this feeling of gratitude and this heightened perspective, but also with a resolution to be a better steward of the freedom that I have been blessed with in America. The most important aspect of this life of freedom is to know, love, and serve our Lord, which we can do in peace thanks to the leisure we enjoy in the West. 

As an American, I have the opportunity to read a book in my free time; to spend time with friends and talk about philosophy, theology, politics, or sports; to self-govern. Most of these goods are not very accessible to the men and women I met in Mozambique because of their living conditions, and yet they still laugh and smile. They are more content with their life situation than most Americans are. To be a better steward of our freedom means not to abuse it. True freedom dictates a certain way of life, and it affirms that there are certain truths that we ought to conform ourselves to. Hence my resolution is to be a stronger defender and promoter of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the only thing that makes us truly free.


I saw something of that true freedom when I joined some fellow Americans to bring supplies and meat to a local school in Mozambique. The two things that put the biggest smile on the faces of the children were a big chunk of raw meat and a new soccer ball. These children are just happy to be alive: they love life, even if it is a little rough and dirty.

The joy, silence, and stark beauty of Africa helped me discern in what way God is calling me to love. The experience removed certain distractions, which in my case were desires both for the religious life and the married life. My desire for both vocations was possible at TAC, where I witnessed each lived out beautifully. Once this witness was removed, I have been better able to articulate the way I am being called to love. I went to Mozambique considering a religious vocation; now I know God is calling me elsewhere: a realization for which I am grateful to that silence and that stark beauty.

There are probably many different ways to explain the joy of the African peoples. Perhaps they are happy not despite, but because of their difficult living conditions. I think that we Catholics in the West can learn from the joy with which the Africans carry their tough cross. On account of that genuine joy, I believe that the Holy Spirit is active there in some mysterious way. Africa will always be Africa — stark, but also moved by the Holy Spirit.