It looks always like someone above us has the power to decide who the heroes are. My impression is that we are all potential heroes and sometimes the real heroes never are discovered at all.
When we live in a country like Mozambique we are confronted with amazing stories of sacrifice, abnegation and perseverance, stories of true heroism. I am speaking of what we can call “little heroes”, heroic people from the anonymous crowd.
Take for instance Alfredo. Ten years ago he was a boy attending a rural school. Though he was a good student, his family was in deep trouble. His mother and father were poor farmers and had ten children to take care. One day they called a family meeting and pointed out the difficulties they were facing and the solution found: the eldest daughter was going to marry and leave for her husband house; the second daughter was already married to a magaíça (name given to someone working in the South African mines) and, as it’s traditional, she had to stay with her in-laws; the third daughter had to remain at home because she was her mother’s right hand: the eldest boy was supposed to go to town looking for a job in order to pay for one of his younger brothers’ studies; the second boy (Alfredo) had to do the same, while the three youngest stayed at home.
After that decision, Alfredo came to the big city looking for a job. He liked very much the idea of studying but he knew that with a job and a brother to support it would be very difficult to continue. With the help of friends he found work, called his younger brother and started a new life. He was 17 years old and his brother 12.
Six years went by and his life has been always the same, working and supporting his brother that is now finishing high school. He couldn’t even dream of having a girlfriend but one day he received a wife as a “present”.
It was like that: he liked to talk with a young girl who used to stop by his workplace after school. They were good friends, nothing else. Even though he liked her, he couldn’t even dare to have those forbidden dreams to someone with such poor income and a brother to take care.
However, the girl’s father was already a number in the statistics of the dying with one of the illnesses devastating Africa. He was slowly dying and his concerns were the destiny of his three daughters. One was kind of married to a magaiça – case solved. The second was employed and could help her mother when he was gone. He called the third girl just before dying and asked: “Have you got a boyfriend?”
At first she was afraid to talk but after some pressure she disclosed Alfredo’s name. That’s why, one day, Alfredo arrived at his humble place to find the wife he couldn’t dream about already settled in. There is something curious about the money of the poor: it seems to be elastic and only this explains how Alfredo could feed and give shelter to another unfortunate soul.
Two years are now gone and the three survived the worst. When things seemed a little better, the unexpected happened. When Alfredo’s wife was walking at night near home, she couldn’t see the end of a cane and her eye was so badly hurt that she lost her sight. She is now 15 years old, and she was only 13 when her father “offered” her to Alfredo, right before dying. In the middle of all this misfortune, Alfredo, also a very young man, is behaving like a very responsible person, a truly little hero.
Mozambique has recently celebrated the National Heroes Day. There was a lot of discussion on the media about criterion. Maybe people feel the same I feel: in a country with corruption, incompetence and lack of authority, the common citizen is a true hero.