There is an old picture of my father in the middle of a group of machamba (country farm) workers in Mozambique. I remember how that photo helped to shape the image of my father as a strong and powerful man.
In fact, for a little less than a decade, my father was a very rich man. Despite living far from Africa, those were wonderful years for my mother, my sister and I. I believe the reason of our happiness to be the bond between the three of us, not the money itself.
Today I understand that I never idolatrized my father the way my sister did, thus I didn’t had to deal with ulterior disappointments. I always stood for me, despite regretting not being able to do it more efficiently. Because maybe I didn’t had great expectations, through the years I have become more and more comprehensive towards failure.
But the photo has been always there, playing on the back of my mind. While a child I could only see my father, never the others. The faces of the men working on the cotton fields or collecting cashew from the threes, and the warehouse behind them, were only part of the frame.
Recently I had the opportunity to look at the same picture. There he was standing, my father, precisely the way I remembered him. To my own surprise, I could see the faces of the workers too, many of them merely young boys, children picking cotton and cashew in order to make us wealthy. This is a picture of the harsh colonial reality. Sadly, it is also the realization that my family is part of it.
Somehow and for the first time, I was glad that it didn’t last that long…