War Without Enemy

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A journalist I know said today: “As if it weren’t enough the floods and the dry season, we now have to face a war without enemy.” In fact, what happened yesterday in Maputo was truly a war. Due to the hot weather and the humidity, the local military deposit situated 10km far from the centre of Maputo exploded. The blasts started around 3pm, local time, and the moment I write these words (8pm) they are still heard.

 

Inside our house, around 4pm, the sound was very similar to a thunderstorm. “Today we have to hurry or we are going to face bad weather,” I remember to have said. It was guarda George who told us that the storm was actually bombs exploding since 3pm.

 

First we went to the fish market, returned home and then to our daily walk in Miradouro. When we arrived at Miradouro the explosions were at full strength. I couldn’t hear clearly because of the tunes, but less then 10 steps walked and I saw Paul ducking into a defensive position. He told me it wasn’t only for the noise, he also had seen some missile or projectile passing over our heads. As you may guess, today’s walk was pretty short.

 

During our trip back home we could see people standing on the streets, most of them running scared of any possible effect of the explosions. At that time cell phones were out of service. Many parked cars were with the alarms on and some windows broke right in front of us due to the impacts.

 

Only later the television showed the devastating extend of 20 tons of ammunition exploding: mushroom type clouds on the sky, north horizon on fire, tens of thousand of people from 4 or 5 neighbourhoods wondering through the streets, wounded and dead arriving at the hospitals…

 

The present day had the sour taste of past. Years ago, when civil war was still ravaging Mozambique, a similar situation happened. The difference is that back then we were all convinced that Maputo was under attack. I had a friend at home and eight children. We took a telephone line and sought refuge under a bed from where we only left when the situation was cleared. War is a tragedy. Suddenly being forced to remember it is quite upsetting.

 

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