A Quick Glimpse of Mozambique

Sorry about this: I wrote this over a week go and thought I had published it. No: I just found it in the Drafts Dept. ‘Mozambique’ should be inserted between Madagascar and Durban. But now that I’m about to (finally) do my KRUGER post, it’s a great lead-in, since I passed through Mozambique quickly en route to the game park!

April 11, 2019, Maputo, Mozambique — While others on the ship spent a day in Mozambique’s capital, I was on a bus en route to Kruger National Park in South Africa, so I didn’t learn much about the city (5 million population) or the country (30 million population). Except that it is even poorer than Madagascar: Mozambique ranks as the world’s seventh poorest country, with a per capita income of only $1,215 per annum.

Agricultural exports include sugar, cotton and nuts, especially cashews.

On March 14, the city of Beira (population 530,000) in central Mozambique was hit by Category 3 Cyclone Idai, which also affected Zimbabwe and Malawi. We were landing way south of there, so it had no direct effect on the Sun. But Viking, being good citizens of the world, donated $50,000 in goods and supplies from the ship’s stores, plus donations from guests. Here’s the beginning of the lineup of parcels to be taken north to the stricken area:

Mozambican gleanings:

— The Portuguese landed in 1544, but didn’t fortify the city until 1787

— It still boasts colonial Portuguese architecture, plus Art Deco and even Bauhaus

— Dominant languages are Portuguese and Swahili

— In the mid-20th century, Maputo became a resort for South Africans and Rhodesians (now Zimbabweans)

— Their war for liberation from Portugal lasted from 1964-1975

— Followed by civil war from 1977-1992

— Twenty-five years of relative stability have brought investments, e.g.:

The Sun was berthed under this newish bridge — financed by China. Our buses, drivers and guides, who were with us for our three-day safari, had driven to Mozambique from Johannesburg — no doubt there were no other decent buses available here. Our bus guide said there has been much development in the country in the past two years. No doubt by the Chinese. She even said Mozambique is starting to become a ‘developed country.’

From the pier our bus went through the main part of downtown Maputo to get to the highway out of town, heading for northeastern South Africa. In the heart of Maputo, we passed the bronze-domed CFM Railway Station, ‘manufactured’ in South Africa and assembled here in 1910. It’s also noted for its wrought iron latticework and pillars:

Along the way, the roads gave new meaning to the term ‘street market.’

This man was buffing each shoe... how many times a day did he have to do that to keep up with the dust from the street?

A picture I wish I’d been ready to take: A young man walking, weaving through city traffic, holding on his shoulder a tall display of day-glo-colored hair combs.

Even apartments on upper floors have metal bars on the windows and balconies. Crime is a serious issue in Africa.

Once we’d left Maputo, we passed shantytowns like this one of houses made of mud and matting. Metal roofs are often held down with old tires. ​

Each town — or wide spot in the road — was filled with vendors.

​Note the mud houses on the hillside. A new enterprise is evidently ‘Coming Soon.’

Good luck to him, with that precarious load.

Walking home...

A man along the highway had set up a pen filled with live geese, for sale. Grass along the highway was being cut — with weed whackers. All you need to open a garden center is 20 potted plants under a tree. As we passed what was obviously a dump, the three dump workers waved at the bus.

Based on my experience in gun-toting Egypt last year, I knew to ask our guide if it was a good idea — or not — to take photos as we went through the passport controls. While leaving Mozambique, don’t. While entering South Africa, sure.

So I can’t show you a photo of the display in the Mozambique passport control building — four wall dispensers with free-for-the-taking strawberry-flavored condoms, banana-flavored condoms, ‘preservativo feminino,’ and ‘preservativo masculino.’ Which leads me to today’s reading, from a 2017 Condé Nast Traveler article about a group of 20 women, led by Gloria Steinem, involved with a school for girls in Zambia. Salient facts from the article, quoted verbatim, are:

‘80% of women in sub-Saharan Africa don’t get past grade school, and half are illiterate. With no job prospects, girls are often forced to marry as early as 14 to help support (or no longer burden) their families. In many cases, they marry men in their 40s who are under the false impression that a virgin serves as a prophylactic against HIV, despite widespread male philandering. [There’s a] popular belief that HIV comes from female prostitutes. Of course, it’s the young girls whose husbands refuse to wear condoms despite their multiple partners who are most at risk.’

End of sermon.

Note where her shirt is from...

I’m putting off my safari report until I’ve caught up on a few other ports of call. Stay tuned. #

©2018, 2019 Susan Nash/PassePartout
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