Archives for category: English

This has been a pet peeve of mine for a while: the laziness of the international media in relation to the (post-) colonial tower of babel. Articles in English about “Africa” suffer from the “Africa is a Country” lens, but I would go further and say it’s “Africa is a Country That Speaks English” lens.

The tech scene itself is guilty of this! (Ironic because the language of code, one would think, would break down barriers.) We hear about great projects in Nairobi, Capetown, Kampala, Accra, but we hear very little noise about some great smaller projects in DRC, Cameroon and Mozambique. (What happens in these countries is inevitably smaller due to structural and historical differences.) I was heartened by the recent initiative to map African tech hubs – but much more is to be done to highlight and nurture smaller-scale innovation.

CNN’s recent post on “Top 10 African Tech Leaders” seems to have at least provoked a reaction. Perhaps those who want a “top 10” are too busy to hear about what is bubbling up in unexpected places, but Jean Patrick Ehouman’s post cataloguing francophone tech leaders is more than necessary.

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Well well well. An idea I casually seeded in my brief time in Maputo has taken on a fantastic life of its own. This wall, which is the outer wall of the @ Verdade newspaper, has been turned into the “Wall of the People”. (The original inspiration came from Candy Chang’s “Before I Die…” project in New Orleans.)


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Trying to write this without resorting to almost ingrained clichés will be difficult. This is not about leaving “Africa” and arriving in “Europe” in winter. It is about my subjective experience as one person living for two intense months in Maputo, at the beginning of a period of self-imposed homelessness.

I wanted to capture the sensory experience – the emptiness of the city on a Sunday – the stifling heat, entering the terminal of the airport, its openness and not-too-cold airconditioning, and realizing that I had “left” Mozambique. The air I would breathe from then on would be airport air. The last rays of sun I would feel would be through massive glass windows. Leaving is always anticlimactic. Unknowingly you often leave before even having stepped on a plane, or crammed the trunk of the car.

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Por incrível que pareça, eis uma imagem duma eleição municipal. Tirada hoje de manhã nos arredores da “cidade” de Cuamba pelo reporter de @ Verdade, Helder Shirangano. Estas pessoas chegaram ao posto de votação às 5h.

As incredible as it seems, this image is of a municipal election! It was taken this morning on the outskirts of the “city” of Cuamba, the second city of Niassa by @ Verdade newspaper reporter Helder Shirangano. These voters arrived at 5am to the polls.

I brought a Philip K Dick anthology with me. I have never used hallucinatory drugs, I never felt I needed them. Just good fiction. Instinctively I knew I would need this.

Hitting the six week mark in Maputo, I picked up the volume and began to read “The Man in the High Castle“, a speculative novel about what the world would have been like if the axis had won what Americans call World War Two. In his world, everything is familiar but dislocated, turned inside out or subverted.

Not long after I had plunged headlong into his Pacific world, my mind started sliding off into a tangent. I recalled a number of conversations I have had here, mostly up north, at bars and in the back of pick-up trucks. In a sense, these conversations were the ultimate “speculative” moments.

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From the sleepy “city” in my dear Niassa province, Mozambique, this has to be the most absurd name for a street. Ever. “Rua Sem Nome 2” which translates as “Street with No Name 2”.

As though “Street with No Name” was not bad enough, the city hall of Cuamba has started a series.

Wondering how many numbers are in the series. Can’t be too many because the place feels like a wild west frontier town.

A one horse town – a horse with no name.

Credit goes to @Verdade newspaper reporter @Shirangano for this provincial gem.

Her red suede sandals, fringed, like tropical moccasins. Her feet in front of mine, in a hurry – what did they remind me of? Her feet were acacias petals.

(I looked down at my feet, not as delicate, in red skater shoes. My feet were also acacia red.)

Later, dangling from a street corner tree branch, a bundle of tied-together shiny plastic and red simcard pouches. Two boys minding it.

This city is indifferent to its relentless red blooms, it sweeps fallen petals out of habit, leaving them in heaps on the curb, heaps in the broken asphalt.

I would like to thank the commander of the Mozambican police who taught me the meaning of a new phrase “Vou te chamboquear!

He taught me yesterday at 11am in the burning sun on the side of the road, here on the opposite side of Maputo’s international airport

It all started when we were stopped by the police in our tuk-tuk at an all too routine traffic control stop, returning from a morning of distributing Mozambique’s free newspaper in the outlying neighborhood of Benfica. The other distributors had already gotten off, in their neighborhoods and it was just Driver and I returning to the city center.

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Urban women “amarrar” (literally “tie on”) capulanas the beautiful print fabrics for special occasions. This image is from a party this weekend for my friend who is about to get married.

I remember seeing an interview with Angolan musician Paulo Flores some time ago in which he described with his solemn poetry life in urban Angola – lots of people with their feet in the mud but tuning in to satellite TV.

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