dia da independencia – nation building
We arrived in Maputo the morning before the anniversary of 40 years or independence. That left us just enough time to complete all the formalities before all offices closed for 4 days (and I’m not kidding, we got our visa at approx. 5:30pm). The next morning we take a chapa (minibus) to the stadium, where the big parade will be. Soon the roads are completely blocked and a long convoy of important looking diplomatic cars passes us in the middle of the street. We get out and start walking. Everywhere people have put up little stalls with refreshments, music is blasting and people are dancing on the street. The stadium is packed with people and we stand in the last row. First different divisions of the army enter the stadium and stand in the middle. Then the president enters in an open car. A huge roar goes through the crowd. He has been in office only for half a year and is seen as the president of change, for a new Mozambique, with less corruption. They cheer him and wave little flags. It is the first time, they have such a big celebration for Independence Day. I first thought the president saw a possibility for celebrating himself. But it is much more likely to be an important part of nation building. After the president inspects the troops he takes his seat in the vip area and the program starts, with traditional dances, singing, representation of all the different tribes, children with balloons, fighter jets roaring dangerously low over the stadium, parachutes landing in the stadium and of course speeches, speeches, speeches. That’s when we decide to leave. Outside people are gathering at the many stalls, eating, drinking and mainly having a good time. We sit down at a table with some mozambiquans and have a blast. They really are very nice. In the end they even drove us home.
I am quite impressed by Maputo. After 3 weeks in Madagascar, we are surprised to find such a modern city in the heart of Africa. The roads are wide and well maintained, there are parks and sidewalk cafes and everywhere you can see a lot of developing going on. The people are well dressed and an astonishing large portion of them speaks well English. And they are extremely nice. It is very easy to communicate with them, because they seem to have a quite similar mentality as us and they are extremely open and welcoming.
One evening we meet Manuel, while we are having a beer at a street stall. He is from the island of Inhaca outside of Maputo. He is only in town to do some business and will take the ferry back to inhaca early the next morning. Spontaneously we decide to go with him and spend a couple days in the real Mozambique. On the ferry he invites us, to sleep in a tent on his porch, which we gladly accept. Again we are so lucky to catch a glimpse of the real life. Inhaca is quite different to Maputo. First of all they barely have traffic. All roads consist only of fine white sand, which makes walking quite difficult. Here the clock still ticks the traditional way. People have time and we enjoy the laid back culture. On the other hand people are quite poor. There are a couple of hotels on the island but no other real opportunities for making good money.