Damn plumbers! As useless as hairdressers! by Fortunato

My sincere apologies to those white ravens who do have a sense of style -who for example don’t drive a hairdresser’s car- and are capable of actually matching their idea of a haircut to the features and personality of a given customer: Continue reading»

4th Wife Flies for Free by Fortunato

“S. African free ‘polygamous’ flight offer as Zuma weds again”


“Conservationists are Africa’s most important people” by Inocência

From “How to Write About Africa” by Binyavanga Wainaina
After celebrity activists and aid workers, conservationists are Africa’s most important people. Do not offend them. You need them to invite you to their 30,000-acre game ranch or ‘conservation area’, and this is the only way you will get to interview the celebrity activist. Often a book cover with a heroic-looking conservationist on it works magic for sales. Anybody white, tanned and wearing khaki who once had a pet antelope or a farm is a conservationist, one who is preserving Africa’s rich heritage. Continue reading»

Postcards to a migration official’s heart by Inocência

Dealing with migration in Mozambique – like in many countries – is a tedious experience.  Here, long delays in issuing residency visas, unclear instructions about what documents one needs to submit and the high cost (annual residency for foreigners now costs c. $750 instead of the previous $60) all add to the potential to extract bribes from people.  There are many frustrating stories I could share, from personal experience.  But instead, a friend – let’s call her Brenda – has a far cheerier tale to tell. Continue reading»

Moz banks: We rob YOU! by Fortunato

***WARNING: rabid expat rant***
One of my partner’s colleagues, a Mozambican, takes her salary out of the bank as fast as she can, every month, ‘because the bank might steal it’. A year and a half ago, we thought this was weird.
Continue reading»

Come back in an hour maybe? by Fortunato

That is what they told me on Thursday. It was already my third visit in five weeks to the shop where they frame pictures.

First visit was to drop of the photos: it might take a bit longer than normal because the material had to arrive from South-Africa, they said.
On my second visit 2 of the staff started rapidly talking in Tsonga (I guess) for several minutes before one of them came to attend to me: the backing material will arrive tomorrow! Waw, isn’t that amazing, after three weeks I just happen to arrive one day early.
On visit three no hasty deliberation about what they would tell me. Instead, a searching frenzy in the workshop which ended with one of the guys producing with much relief one sheet of the backing material. Great!! But, er, they still had to start cutting and glueing, so, could I come back in hour?
You won’t get me again!, I thought, and so I gave them 4 full working days to get things done.

Visit number 4. Upon my arrival the guy promptly shows me 3 photos. On inspection they seem only half glued to the backing. Sure he says, they need to be mechanically pressed for the glue to dry, if I can come back?
Once again?!!, is my spontaneous, exasperated reply.
No, no, no, says the man with full reassurance: Come back in an hour maybe?

One week later, visit number 5. The photos look exactly as on visit number 4, but the explanation changed, no more optimism: ‘the paper is too thick’. Unfortunately this kinda ends my appreciation for their time warping capabilites and their sense of the surreal. After six weeks I end up with 3 undulated photos on warped backings and a lack of faith in 50% of the city’s framers.

Any truth to the Radisson rumours? by Inocência

An unfinished eyesore on Maputo’s beachfront.  The developers clearly have a liquidity crisis-  but is this drugs or global crisis related?

Maputo unfinished Radisson

Radisson have been building this huge hotel on Maputo’s ‘marginal’ or sea road for the last couple of years. It is not ugly per se but horribly out of place and ruins the skyline.  Construction was progressing fast and according to a South African couple we met in May or so last year, they and everybody else were working 18 hour days to make sure it was open in time for the African games (Sep 2011).  Little has happened since before the games and the hotel stands unfinished.   One rumour around town is that it is being financed by drug money, and that a large drugs haul in South Africa last year upset the cash flow. Continue reading»

Boss is boss by Fortunato

Here’s how to maintain your grip on the electorate: keep them drunk with low alcohol taxes, hand out building permits for churches that preach to stay away from politics, and gain control over the music scene to silence any popular sound of dissent.
The alcohol is very obvious: an imported 5cl whisky shot in a plastic sachet goes on the street for 75 US dollarcent, less than a beer. The easy life of the happy clappy churches is a guess, I mean, they do get some nice building spots. So here comes a rant about the numbing of the music scene. Continue reading»

Message from above by Fortunato

50 years united in the struggle against poverty

50 years united in the struggle against poverty. 10th congress. Frelimo force of change.

Finding some 30 leaflets in one’s garden is a bit worrying, especially when they’ve come from a plane. Somehow, throwing leaflets out of plane seems a rather desperate way of communicating. These days it makes mainly sense in conflict situations where the area is either remote and/or in the hands of unfriendly forces. In simple terms: war propaganda. Truths, half truths and complete lies to convince people to side with you or at least not fight you. Continue reading»

Free education and all that by Inocência

Mozambique has made good progress in getting kids into school over the last few years and most children now at least start primary school.*  This week the government announced that there was no shortage of places for kids to enroll in school in Maputo and that ‘everything will go well in the enrollment period’.**   Each year parents across the country have to enroll their children that are entering classes 1,6,8 and 11; they pass automatically into the other classes.   This week our night guard also came to me to ask to borrow about $40 because he needed to make sure that his two children got into their respective grades 1 and 6 in primary school.  He said that the school places had all but run out and that the only way he would get one of the remaining ones was to pay nearly $20 for each of his children as a ‘refresco’ for the teachers. Continue reading»