Posted by: passedportsnyc | October 12, 2009

First Impressions: Mozambique

First Impressions
1. Are we in Brazil?  Mozambique has a strong Afro-Latino feel to it. The second we crossed the border we noticed a dramatic shift in culture. It is in the way people dress, the music, even people’s mannerisms.  If you had been air-dropped in and didn’t know where you were you might have thought you’d landed in Cuba (but for the language) or Brazil…
2. Nope, definitely still Africa.  …But all you have to do to be reminded that you are in fact still in Africa is travel on the roads for a few minutes.  Potholes so big that I could climb inside and lay down.  What should be a quick 50km turns into several hours in transit.  Our second day in Mozambique greeted us with a 20-hour-long bus ride in which I was sandwiched between Max and a guy with a chicken in a bag (alive and kicking). The guy directly behind us was very ill and very incontinent.  Oh the glamour of travel.
3. Most of the people here have experienced war, and it shows.  The people here seem hardened.  A quick glance at their history will explain why. Mozambicans began fighting for their independence in 1961.  The Portugese didn’t grant it until 1974, after 13 years of war.  Shortly thereafter began a “civil war,” which lasted another 17 years.  (Many people dispute the use of the term civil war, as the opposition force was largely a creation of South Africa’s aparthied government, intended to keep Mozambique in a perpetual state of instability, thereby preventing the ANC from using it as a base.) After more the 30 years of nearly continuous war, Mozambique finally acheived peace in 1994.  So virtually all adult Mozambicans lived their formative year in warfare. It is no surprise then that humor seems lost on them and even the most mundane topics carry a weighty gravity.1. Are we in Brazil?  Mozambique has a strong Afro-Latino feel to it. The second we crossed the border we noticed a dramatic shift in culture. It is in the way people dress, the music, even people’s mannerisms.  If you had been air-dropped in and didn’t know where you were you might have thought you’d landed in Cuba (but for the language) or Brazil…

Sept 28

1. Are we in Brazil? Mozambique has a strong Afro-Latino feel to it. The second we crossed the border we noticed a dramatic shift in culture. It is in the way people dress, the music, even people’s mannerisms.  If you had been air-dropped in and didn’t know where you were you might have thought you’d landed in Cuba (but for the language) or Brazil…

2. Nope, definitely still Africa.  …But all you have to do to be reminded that you are in fact still in Africa is travel on the roads for a few minutes.  Potholes so big that I could climb inside and lay down.  What should be a quick 50km turns into several hours in transit.  Our second day in Mozambique greeted us with a 20-hour-long bus ride in which I was sandwiched between Max and a guy with a chicken in a bag (alive and kicking). The guy directly behind us was very ill and very incontinent.  Oh the glamour of travel.

3. Most of the people here have experienced war, and it shows. The people here seem hardened.  A quick glance at their history will explain why. Mozambicans began fighting for their independence in 1961.  The Portugese didn’t grant it until 1974, after 13 years of war.  Shortly thereafter began a “civil war,” which lasted another 17 years.  (Many people dispute the use of the term civil war, as the opposition force was largely a creation of South Africa’s apartheid government, intended to keep Mozambique in a perpetual state of instability, thereby preventing the ANC from using it as a base.) After more the 30 years of nearly continuous war, Mozambique finally achieved peace in 1994.  So virtually all adult Mozambicans lived their formative year in warfare. It is no surprise then that humor seems lost on them and even the most mundane topics carry a weighty gravity.

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