I heard while in Lichinga that the bars (or drinking shacks) were actually “parallel government” here. The idea that there exists a nocturnal government, sustained with beer and bar banter is quite powerful.

Another thing I heard is that in the end, that controversial debate in the Municipal Assembly about short skirts was caused by a topic from the national level, about traffic of children and child prostitution. But unfortunately, the part that seemed like bar banter was recorded. And even transmitted in the international media.

The short skirt – and the apparent ironic invasion by the “parallel government” – inspired a bit of reflection on the exercise of power here. I am not one to promote self-censorship, but the big-bellied of the world (and here I include myself in the metaphorical sense) we must know how to measure our words and when to simply shut up.

What we have to say is not always valuable. We have to seriously consider the way we occupy public spaces. I get quite irritated, in my current job, with the protagonism of the “technician”, the “educated”… It is an instinctual protagonism, that does not think explicitly to occupy the space of others. But they end up muffling the quieter voices. When I am feeling less generous, I see this as egotism.

I don’t know why, but I think of the kids running away from primary school that I saw repeatedly. One day, I saw a boy climbing the high back gate of the school. The second day, I saw two boys trying to squeeze under the gate, scraping their bellies in the red dirt of Lichinga – rising up, victorious and smiling to say “We did it!”. For me, these kids represent the opposite of that big-bellied egotism.