The province has been known to go without “refrescos” (Coke, Sprite and Fanta) for extended periods due to logistical delays and cost of transport. However, Niassa can rely on the natural “refresco”. July is sugarcane munching season – it’s like the original softdrink – a soft of sugar into your veins. Peel its pink-purplish husk using your side teeth and molars. If you are a child and don’t have sufficient molars, smash it in to gnawable pieces.

The phrase which is translated from Yao and Makua to Portuguese as “é do dono” or in English “it belongs to the owner” seems kind of redundant. But it is an expression of the way things are, a sort of special respectful resignation. It is about power relations and the way power operates here. From what I understand, it cuts both ways, in the sense that if you are aware of the way things work, you can get what you want. But if you are impatient, or attempt to disturb the order of things in an imprudent way, you are doomed.


Where you see clumps of trees sticking out of the grasslands, do not trespass. They are cemeteries. Groupings of native trees are associated with the taboo and with the sacred. In participatory mapping exercises, people seem to remember cemeteries right after the basics: roads, paths, fields and rivers.

N.b. I write with the least authority. Please correct me by leaving a comment.