Category Archives: History

A new start

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I have been away from my site for so long!! I moved countries then moved jobs and towns and all sorts of changes, including losing my passwords to my account. Old Age. So here I am starting again.

My life is very different to my Mozambique days and I really miss it. From the excitement and challenges of living in a very third world country where every day was different and interesting and vibrant, I now live in another third world country which is even more challenging but not so interesting and exciting.

In Zimbabwe we have the challenges of every day survival;  a currency which hardly exists on paper and the bit that does exist on paper is not even recognised anywhere else in the world. It is fought over and hoarded to such an extent that you hardly ever see it and yet it is essential to survival as most of the vending of every day goods has moved out of the shops and onto the streets. We have items in the shops, imported at great cost from outside the country, so we pay those extra costs. The man on the street cannot afford this so he shops on the street. Our methods of payments are varied and confusing. If you have USdollars cash you are definitely king and your note can be traded for other currencies with quite a hefty premium. The invisible monopoly money used in the Country is called Bond notes, if you use these to pay anywhere you are normally charged interest so something costing $1 you would pay $1.50. Then you get Ecocash, textacash, Mycash etc etc, various payment methods you can do through your phone, again you get charged interest so that item which was $1 could now be $2. Then you have RTGS or bank transfers, your $1 item now comes to you at $5. The banks are making a killing as they charge between $2 to $10 service charges on transactions, then if you buy that item from the street vendor who has his own swipe machine you pay him $5 extra for swiping plus you pay the bank service charges so the $1 item could now be $8.

We live like this, and we seem to accept it. Everyone complains but no-one protests, we just pay and move on waiting for a change to happen. That was another difference I still cant get used to, Mozambique is loud, vociferous and in your face but fair and happy and smiling. Zimbabwe is angry and surly and everyone is out to get everyone else. No happy bantering between the races here, the divide between black and white is a huge chasm which can become a raging fire at the flick of a switch.

So my new start has been a learning of new methods, new environments, new weather – I have ended up living in a place the total opposite of warm and sunny Mozambique. Times have moved on and I am learning to move on with them, the changes which need to be made must be made now, if I wait then the changes will be changed. My list of what is important has changed and I now try and be more mindful, I plan and think instead of just jumping in. Boring?

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Tribute and Tribulation

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Tribute and tribulation, two words so very similar in spelling and pronunciation but vastly different in meaning. The exact difference was brought home to me this past week when I experienced both in the space of twelve hours.
We paid tribute to a man who came into Mozambique at a time when the country was just emerging from a long and horrific civil war which had torn the country apart and brought it to the knees of poverty and deprivation. He came into the country from Zimbabwe, first on regular trips, trading foods and items from Zimbabwe, for prawns and seafood from the coast. The roads were practically nonexistent with the risk of mines or attacks from either of the warring parties along the way. He would tell stories for hours describing the trips and adventures and close shaves he, his family and his friends had in those early days.
The stories of setting up business in Mozambique at a time when legal administrative procedures were nonexistent and everything was done with bribery and corruption as par for the process were amazing. In Beira, at the time, there was no piped water or sanitation facilities, very rarely any electricity and no shops, fuel or basic living commodities. As he and his family were coming through to Beira so often and friends were starting to join them it was decided that a restaurant and camp ground should be built. This was started on a small-scale but its popularity became such that it expanded and grew into a sprawling, thatched roof venue renown for good food and the best view in Beira. That was twenty years ago, this man and his family certainly saw and experienced a lot of change in the slowly awakening country. When he passed away two weeks ago the restaurant was closed for the day in order to hold a memorial service for him. The Service was a tribute to his memory read out and spoken about by various longstanding members of the Beira community. Each of the members of the restaurant staff, some of whom had been with him from the beginning, took a handful of ashes from the box held by his son and threw them into the sea. A fitting tribute as he had loved the ocean.
Then came the tribulation. Half an hour after we locked up and went home we received a call to say the restaurant was on fire. His Restaurant. What an awful shock, what desolation, what bone crushing sadness. You can never prepare yourself for something like this and the ache inside my chest was so extreme at times I thought I would be ill.
Why did this happen? What was the reason? How did it happen? How are we going to survive?
A week later not many of the questions have been answered but I have theories. He loved the restaurant, it was his, maybe he wanted to take it with him. Maybe someone still living decided he should take it with him.
Whatever the reason, the tribulation of suddenly realising you have nothing left out of what was something huge pushed us to a level we did not realise we could reach. Out of adversity comes strength, strength you often do not realise you have. The Old Man built the restaurant through a lot of trial and tribulation on his part, maybe now it was our turn to rebuild and suffer a similar stress and tribulation in order to learn to appreciate what he went through.
In our tribute to him we had to experience the tribulation he had endured as he knew he had left that legacy of strength in his family and he knew they would get through and achieve what he had achieved and love it the same as he had.