Maybe only a handful of Mozambicans has ever heard of Doctor Zhivago. However, it seems that they suffer from Zhivago’s syndrome – here called amantismo. Amantismo comes from the Portuguese word amante, which means the same than the French word amant. Amantismo means the excessive practice of having lovers. Interesting, isn’t it?


How is that so? I don’t know. Is that for real? Yes, it is seriously real. In Mozambique, it’s very rare a man or a woman without a respective lover. What can explain the phenomenon? I don’t know. I can only guess.


I’ll talk about a case I fleetingly know. She is a Mozambican mature woman, with a job, a house, three children and two unsuccessful marriages in her past. For Mozambican standards, she is a lucky one. In reality, she is “trouble free”. She doesn’t expect a lot from men, except sharing a good time together.


He is a married man. He has a job, a house, a wife and 3 or 4 children. He is the provider, an exemplar Mozambican for supporting his family. Most of them don’t stay long in a marriage. However, as a truly good Mozambican, he finds married life to be pretty boring. Conversations are all about money, children, family matters… A man likes to play. Mozambican men like to play a lot.


He could have any “dezasseiszinha” (young girl with 16) he wanted, but they mean trouble. They are expensive. They ask too much. He has seen too many marriages of friends ruined because of “dezasseiszinhas”.


So he meets that mature woman. She doesn’t ask anything, except for a little of his time, a little of his attention… The deal is a win-win situation. It just works. In the case I know, it has been working for five years. She calls him her boyfriend. I don’t know what he calls her, but girlfriend would be appropriate. They spend together the time they can: twice a week, an occasional weekend and once a year a week or so of holidays somewhere in Mozambique.


I was alerted to amantismo by the local media. The practice was discussed as a threatening situation to families and society. The explanation? A mystery.


Actually, I have an explanation for this specific fooling around. As you so well know, the situation of Aids in Mozambique is problematic. A married man would sleep with night girls, usually during the weekends. Because of Aids, a wise married man can’t do it any more. So he finds a safe solution in amantismo. In other words, amantismo seems to be a risk free substitute for the local restless married men.