1.02.2008

Kanimambo Moçambique


I came in full of pretension. There were hundreds of story lines detailing one hundred different expectations about how I should feel, and what I should think. I was instructed by genetic memory and the wisdom of those who thought they knew the dubiety of my motives. See I had only imagined what it was like to cross the Sahel. I had seen papaya and mango trees in photographs but never tasted the fruit which they bear. So I came in full of expectation for a reality I was assured would be sobering, conditions that would surely dampen my resolve and call to question my sanguine enthusiasm for all things Aithiopian. I was cautioned about the undercurrent of animosity for us lost children who abandoned the mother to the predators of this world. I was told how we were not seen as brothers to those who had been left behind. We, being the unwanted step children to unspeakable atrocities of the past. I came in with nostalgic ideas of endless inspiration to reinvigorate the Pan-African sentiment. Expecting pages and pages to be written about the experiences of a lost child who came to find all the answers and all the truths to the present assault upon people of African decent while in the homeland of freedom fighters like Steven and Samora, Mandela and Mondlane.

I came in with expectations. I observed, I talked, and I listened. I took in the surroundings for better and worse. I stared AIDS in the face and witnessed the orphans to be left in its aftermath. I saw progress and poverty, determination and despair, all on the same Chapa as it ran through red lights and busy intersections. I had hours long conversations about the ills of society. For a moment I thought I was discussing the black ghettoes of America until someone commented on the positive and negative impact of Afrikaners on Southern Africa. I listened to the surprise of natives that “Um Americano” would see fit to learn more about their country than many of their own countrymen and the reluctantly stated reality that whether I stay or go they will always have to face the good and the bad of this country. I arrived, I talked, and I listened. I took in my surroundings amongst the pretension, the speculation, the expectations…all the whispers in the background waiting intently for the crestfallen idealist to return to more pragmatic and less audacious ambitions.

I arrived with all of these things weighing on my conscious. I saw the partially clothed children on the streets in the middle of the night, blind women being led down the Avenida to beg for pennies. I saw trash in the streets garbage bins overflowing while motorist carelessly toss fast food containers out of their car windows. Children at mid day raising children in poorly built barrios walking through mosquito infested water logged muddy streets, why aren’t they in school? Women dressed like supermodels standing in queue next to those maimed by landmines or some other misfortune. I saw the deplorable conditions and the looming threats to this emerging African success story. But I also saw the smiles. The beaches packed on the weekends bumper to bumper for miles. No gunshots, no fights, no swarm of police standing by to break up the assembly. The children competing, swimming, racing, practicing martial arts, and playing futbol on makeshift fields. Someone proudly remarked you do not hear of suicide in this country. But I heard the Clubs packed with a rare mix of euro-house, zouk, hip-hop, and afro-latin discography predictably and effortlessly in sync like the ever present passada rhythm. I saw women asserting their position in society, actively participating in the progress of their country trying to fight back the tide of so many destructive developments of the past and present to create a better future. Women taking their place in society, not just running households but running the government. I spoke to those I encountered about my decades old dreams of witnessing the sun rise from the opposite end of the earth and my unrequited love for this place that made me seem so at ease in its surroundings. I listened to intelligent and open minded opinion about what was needed for us to progress the country. The expectations were not experienced, the pretension was not present. There were no awe inspiring epiphanies no volumes of commentary on the struggle just many hopes, many opportunities, many things that need to be done, and one realization: I have returned through the doors from which there was to be no return, and at last my heart is at home.



Hannibal Ad Portas!

Catalyst

2 comments:

fallen angel said...

the pictures didn't do the experience justice i'm sure! can't wait to talk to you in person about it!

fallen angel said...

we missed you this weekend...