10 Days In Mozambique!
“One writes out of a need to communicate and to commune with others, to denounce that which gives pain and to share that which gives happiness.” Eduardo Galeano
My journey began in Mozambique where I spent nearly two weeks. Mozambique is located in the southeastern region of the continent and home to the Bantu people who are spread throughout the region. The major ethnic groups in the country are Shangaan, Shona and Sena. Mozambique is a long country, to the north it borders Tanzania and southerns part of the country shares a border with South Africa and in between on its western border you have Malawi, Zimbabwe and Zambia. I spent most of my time in northern part of the country and in Maputo, the capital city.
I maybe one of the few people who love crowded, busy, chaotic African capital cities. I am overjoyed by the functional chaos. As an outsider, so much of it might seem out of place, but attentively watching, you will slowly start to uncover the order underneath the chaos, the cultural norms, the unwritten street signs. It is a true market ran by women — where real buying and selling of commodities happen unlike the air-conditioned-testosterone-filled trading floors in the West where algorithms drive buying and selling of commodities which the sellers and buyers have never touched.
Maputo, Mozambique’s capital city, is a vibrant multicultural and multinational city. Walking around the city, you cannot avoid the country’s communist history and struggle for independence. There are monuments of freedom fighters in public squares and commercial stores and offices at the intersection of Karl Marx Avenue and Ho Chi Min Avenue. Around the corner you will find Ahmed Sekou Toure Avenue — named after my native Guinea’s independence hero and first president. The city is where the well-off, the middle class, the poor, the muslims and christians all claim as their own. In the early evenings, you will find young people strolling downtown hand in hand with their lovers on the waterfront, stealing kisses when no-one is looking. In Wi-fi equipped cafes and restaurants, Trace African Music videos channel is usually on while customers munch on grilled chicken, cheese burgers, Samosas which they wash down with 2M or Mac-Mahon (national beers). At the other end of the restaurant, Rihanna ringtones interrupts loud conversations in Portuguese, reminding you of the colonial history of the country and American cultural imperialism.
The most cost efficient way to get around Maputo is through what they call “Chappas”, which is Brooklyn’s version of “dollar vans”. Tracy Chapman appears to be popular in Maputo — “Fast Car” was background music at a municipal market. At the taxi station, waiting for my mini bus to Swaziland, it was “Talkin’ Bout revolution”. The city is not without it’s challenges. Just over the Maputo Bay lies Catembe, densely populated and without basic infrastructure.
After arriving in Pemba, in Northern Mozambique, I was surprise to spot a store baring my last name — pictured above. This local shop is steps away from the airport in Pemba. No relations to me, but I had been told that there are a number of Guineans in Mozambique, but I expect most them to be mostly in Maputo. I was pleasantly surprised at the site a shop bearing my name.
Driving through the north, you get a glimpse of the persistent economic challenges — a global phenomenal of economically depressed towns and villages which has lost commercial activities to the big cities. In some towns, the poverty is persistent and the pain of the people is visible.
From Pemba, I ventured out to an Island off the mainland called Ibo Island. Ibo is a predominantly muslim Island, with humble people and curious children. The people speak Kimwani — a language that is close to KiSwahili and I was told that two are mutually intelligible. This remote island of nearly 7,000 inhabitants is a peaceful sleepy town that is rapidly becoming a tourist haven.
Fishing is the main industry on the island. Life for the residents (and tourists) revolve around the tides of the ocean.
During the day, you can walk for nearly two hours on the ocean when the water recedes for miles. I have never seen anything like it, walking on the ocean bed, with no water, just you, the sand, and what would normally be underwater plants, algae and other creatures (crabs, fish in little pools of water, etc...)
Getting to Island, I was welcomed by enthusiastic kids who are eager to give me a tour of the island.
For a week, this was village and the surrounding islands was my life! Despite of how hard it is to get to the islands, Mozambique is truly a magical place.
Walking around Ibo, you can feel the change that is comming. In 5 years, this place will be prime destination for Rest and Relaxation for people around the world. Let’s hope the local population maintain some control of the land and benefit from its use!
So Long Mozambique — Next Stop, Manzini, Swaziland. My mini bus & land cross adventures begin. No more flights until Lusaka, Zambia. (Swaziland and South Africa Blog coming soon!)