The Bloodstain

It was hard for me to believe that a mosquito could have blood stained my pillow the size of a small coin. I refuted the mosquito theory and evoked the nose bleeding. It wouldn’t be the first… But when I removed the pillow, there it was: a large dark mosquito was lying dead on the white sheet. Paul remarked how lucky I was to have neutralized the mosquito before some of my contaminated blood had been injected back into my blood stream. I commented: “I just hope he burst with my blood.” And I took a picture because I was sure I would write about the stain, not as an incident but as an analogy.

Mosquitos are stupid or despairingly hungry or both. They insist in biting when a hand is ready to purée them. They suck our blood, even when we react and turn their enjoyable meal into a last supper. I believe that political leaders behave like mosquitos. They lack vision, independence and intelligence to foresee the backlashes of their political decisions.

In History classes I learned how for centuries the European countries trusted that growth and wellbeing were directly related with the stability in the continental borders. Regimes capable to implement peace and act as protecting shields against less friendly civilizations were regarded as fundamental. Now look how the European political leaders of today are incapable to put the interests of Europe first. Someone decided to destabilize the north of Africa and so on. Reasons or no reasons, a good leader must put the interest of his country first. What we have seen is the new political leadership, accountants apart, embarking on a crusade with malefic consequences for Europe.

Because Africans can no longer live in the countries where chaos has been created, they are trying to find ways to intrude into Europe in search of what they no longer have. There are many stories and the number is rising. The European political and economical stability is only possible if the buffer countries enjoy peace. This is a primary principle. The European leadership forgot it or just don’t know it? Don’t care? Are no longer equipped with the capacity to evaluate the consequences of their decisions? The analogy.

And look at this statement (I couldn’t find the English version). For a first it is a copy of another one issued before. Lately, they check if they are well tuned first. It is as if Europe had no longer its own mind, its own heart. All the terminology seams to be correct, but in fact they put in the same bag criminals that are killing innocent people and the ruling party, which receives and protects European citizens, interests and diplomatic personnel. I suppose the reasons are not very far from what moved politicians since the XVI century: exploring the richness of underdeveloped countries. This is another age. They should know it and move on. R-e-a-l-l-y!

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Anachronism

A little more than twenty years ago, Mr. Anachronism signed a peace agreement with the Mozambican government. Looking at it, I should have said that he received carte blanche from his mentors to sign it, as long as a few conditions were met.

Mr. Anachronism leads one of those African military organizations the world strongly condemns but some insist in regarding through a different prism. In another words, some military organizations are better than others. To be coherent with the norm, only a state can have a military organism to secure borders and the people living within those borders. Any other exception is a serious motive of worry.

Mr. Anachronism is a really bad ass. You think bad and he and his men cover all aspects of the meaning. For more than 20 years of disguise as a political organization, he never authorized a single congress, where members would discuss inside matters such as the political leadership of Mr. Anachronism himself. That’s the kind of democracy some Western countries support! The result has been internal fights and the formation of other political parties. Right now no one knows what Mr. Anachronism’s party is. In reality, there are three separated groups inside the same party: 1) The military – a bunch of dangerous bandits. 2) The parliamentary – those paid to seat inside the Parliament mainly to shout obscenities. 3) And those who somehow are against the ruling party and see with good eyes the idea of any kind of change (f..k the majority of the Mozambicans), adding to that the regionalists, a local breed pretty close to racists.

It’s time for Western countries to rethink their policy towards Mozambique and a few other African countries. If there’s peace and some work is being done, leave them alone. Forget the myriad of never-ending resources and riches handed by obedient governments. As this is done at war expenses (and many other of different kind), intervention only makes westerners (and all of us) poorer and poorer. We should have an active role in stopping it. The 16th century is over. Mozambicans have demonstrated that they are not just a herd of sheep. Why not admit that sometimes democracy doesn’t serve your interests and/or has tonalities other than those your mind conceives?

At start, Mozambique was one of the luckiest countries to have a great leader, with a profound sense of fairness and democracy. Mondlane was killed, probably with the blessing of some. The Mozambican ruling party is the legacy of a great man, means stability and, if you look at Beira city, where a different party has been ruling for a good number of years, not that worryingly anti-democratic. The man in charge of Beira is not anachronistic. He is civilized. He even divorced Mr. Anachronism because he was too civilized to be part of his organization.

So, here you have it: there’s a man thinking that all those who have been investing in Mozambique are going to take it for a very long time. He thinks (and a few others seem to think it too) that he is living in the eighties. He is time travelling. By now he is back to a couple of decades ago, still in the bush and attacking when less expected. He seems to be unaware of three key aspects: 1) The government is open to dialogue. 2) Votes have been telling the way people feel towards Mr. Anachronism. 3) Votes are a fruit of WORK, and Mr. Anachronism’s work is inexistent or inefficient. Or maybe he doesn’t even try because he knows the reality: people don’t trust him and they never will. For the majority of Mozambicans, he is a folkloric figure they have to tolerate in the name of imposed reasons and/or concepts.

But what surprises me the most is not Mr. Anachronism or his bandits. He has never shown political skills. He keeps menacing to set Mozambique on fire and kill his own compatriots. Now he is coherent with his bestial nature and role. I just don’t understand why I only hear individuals talking against him. Where are the religious groups, the humanitarian organizations and so many others, when it comes to vigorously condemning the killing and the violence? Is it political incorrect to attach to Mr. Anachronism and his bandidos the word criminals? Is “democracy” so damn important to explain non-dignifying silences and alliances?

Last week, for the first time, a group of voices raised to state that Mr. Anachronism should be judged by the International Criminal Court in The Hague. I just hope many others follow the example and stop the dismissive shrugging when the news is about an entire family having being slaughtered by Mr. Anachronism. I am not even Mozambican or into parties and politics, but I felt compelled to post where I stand regarding crime against civilians, bloody violence and extreme political blackmail. We should state clearly our positions. We are sending the wrong message to Mr. Anachronism and the world. Our silence is accomplice.

Straight to the Point

It is very rare that I feel like posting more than once a week, but we are living extraordinary times and extraordinary times demand extraordinary posts. The words are only mine and they reflect things I truly believe to be the facts or very close to the facts.

To my own surprise, just a few weeks ago I discovered that someone I know from a Western embassy, occupying a very high post, had a cell phone my guards would certainly reject. Instead of praising that someone because of his Spartan way of life, I feel truly suspicious. The appearance of wealth or no wealth can easily be fabricated, especially when it is about someone that visible. Let’s say that he or she didn’t convince me. “Normal people” want good things and, to a degree, they like to show them off. But then, we are at war because some people go to war thinking that we all should pay for the mistakes they make.

Something is changing in the world and this post is just to say that I know it. It’s clear that my vision is different from the vision of someone living in Europe, whose only concern must be how to pay the mortgage of his house. When we have such immediate needs, it’s difficult to have the larger vision necessary to see the world where we live.

I am not enjoying the “us” against “the rest of the world”. It is a new phase, slicker and a lot more dangerous for “the rest of the world”. If you think that I am talking in riddles, I’m getting straight to the point:

1. Interfering in the internal affaires of other countries is not okay, unless there’s a clear humanitarian situation and the intervention is approved by an impressive large number of countries.

2. Paying to “agitators”, or doing many other actions to create chaos and confusion in certain countries and regions of the world, is totally wrong. It failed before and it is going to fail again because the “agitators” that you are paying today are the ones turning against you sooner or later.

I was surprised to see such favorable breeze towards the BRICS countries. BRICS, for those who don’t know it yet, is a political and economical association of countries such as Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. You just have to take a closer look at the list to understand. See what is happening in Brazil? It was tried before, without success, with other members of BRICS, namely in Russia and China, countries where probably the state control is stronger and/or the minds/lives of people less vulnerable. I am not saying that people don’t have reasons to go to the streets. They have. At a certain stage, we all have. It’s just that I don’t believe in the spontaneity of such events. Many can be there with honest intentions, but many are there because they are paid to be active… very active. Those in the streets only see their immediate concerns. It is quite natural. I see a successful BRICS country launched in the chaos.

Brazil is just a pale example of what we are going to see in the near future. Southern Africa is one of the targets and Mozambique can easily be a starting point. Afonso Dhlakama, the controversial opposition leader, is doing his best to set this country on fire. I am not that credulous to believe that he is doing it just because he woke up one good day and felt like guerrilla was the way to go. Of course that if he is starting civil war it’s because someone (and not an average someone) is giving him his blessings. Peace in Mozambique was so hard to reach and for that so precious! Is it the combination of China economical influence and gas so dangerous to justify breaking that peace, the only thing Mozambicans truly want? There are too many important focal points in Southern Africa (South Africa, Angola and Zimbabwe, no need to say more), why not an easy case like Mozambique and from here set fire to the region?

SADC is the Southern Africa regional organization. It should work to guarantee the peace and progress in the whole region, but the reality is quite different, and that is going to be the end of 3 or 4 current governments in Southern Africa. And do I care? Yes, if the idea is to remove unfriendly governments and substitute them for docile ones. I’ve never been favorable to sheep-like people, much less sheep-like governments.

I know how fragile and reproachable some African governments are. But I am not far from thinking like a sociologist I heard talking about political options in Angola. Nationalism is still very important. In general, African people like traditional leadership. According to him, the Angolan President is a lot more popular today than he was years ago and that is not specifically because he is ruling better than previously. It is because he is older now and people trust him more. A leader is a father. If you are young, you have to respect him. If you are old, he aged with you and you talk the same language. He is your father or your brother. Maybe now you are better equipped to understand why the chances of Mugabe at 90, to Western disbelieve and consternation, are stronger than never.

Is it so hard to respect differences? I lived in a 3km island where two opposite religions (Muslim and Catholic) have been coexisting since the Portuguese landed in these coasts: 500 years of evidence. I strongly recommend compulsive holidays in Ilha de Mozambique for most of the world leaders. I bet they would enjoy the stay and our chances of peace would improve tremendously.

When There’s a Reason

Sometimes I am political not because I am political by nature or enjoy being political. I put it in a very simple way: I am political when I am forced to be political. Some kind of problem is happening and we (those living in Maputo) are right in the middle of it.

There’s only one place where we can buy things like organic eggs, quality veggies, selected fruits and so on. That South African brand took charge of the shops in Maputo, previously managed by a local businessman. For a couple of weeks the prices went down and those shops flourished with products and clientele. We sighed with relief, but that was before it got really bad. Now the shops are empty and the clientele confused.

I heard three stories: 1) The truck strike and the lack of petrol in SA (already affecting Mozambique too), which I don’t buy because clients are told to wait precisely two weeks for the situation to be solved and such precision is not frequent in case of strikes or petrol supply. 2) There’s also the explanation I heard about the import papers being in the name of the previous management, a bureaucratic question easily solved, but certain “guys” have the tendency of pestering and blackmailing instead of putting the interest of other people first. 3) According to a third version, there’s a battle between that brand and one of the strongholds of corruption in Mozambique: Alfândegas or Customs. The products have been rotting inside the Alfândega facilities just because (rightfully) they refuse to bribe those corrupt officers.

Right now the fresh products are suspended until the situation is solved – if someone cares enough to do something about it. I suppose I don’t have to tell you (again) how they are right about this. By paying the bribe, they would not only commit a crime but steal from the consumers who, in the last instance, have to pay for it. If that is the case, can you only imagine how much the government is losing just because of those corrupt officers?

Anyway, this post proves (again) that when there’s a reason and we don’t know it… we buy all the reasons on sale.

The Not So Evident Reason

At some stage of my life I had a fantastic History teacher. He was a poet and a sharp political analyst. Unfortunately, he was my teacher for a very short period. Even so I believe the impact of a short period with a good teacher is far greater than years of mediocre school.

Something I got from him that I shall never forget is the importance of explaining historical events through reasons. History, as he presented, was a sort of crime intrigue and we, as students, had the fascinating job of unveiling the reasons explaining each fact, a sort of historical “cherchez la femme”. He also insisted that several reasons were always at steak, some more evident than others. For instance, discovering Brazil was a geographical mistake. The decision of colonizing (fact) was taken due to several reasons, being the economical and religious the main ones. The religious was the up-front reason, the evident one. The economical aspect was the unspeakable reason. People were seduced to the colonial saga by the idea of “teaching religion and civilization to the savage.”

History should be very different today, don’t you think? Still, I wonder if it’s that different. We have the case of Libya. I am not a fan of Muammar Gaddafi. I have an image of a show off-man, an authoritarian politician. Despite that, I also have some information of his generosity and his enthusiasm towards the construction of a strong, united Africa. And, over the last years, those ideas finally started to be regarded as desirable and possible.

Either pro or against the intervention in Libya, you probably accept as evident reason for that the petroleum resources of that country. And so do I. Yet, I had forgotten my History lessons until recently. Now it is clear to me that there are other reasons for what is happening in Libya today, and they are not entirely evident.

The thought of a united continent, especially economically united, must be remarkably worrying to some Western countries. Those worries have nuances I don’t even dare to touch right now. Let’s just say that Africa united from Cape to Cairo is something unpredictable, escaping any political forecasts. Besides, the actual trend is not unite but divide: divide to better control.

So if Africa is going to be strong and united one day, it has to be the Western way. And South Africa, the country regarded as capable of leading the unification and development process in Africa, is now opening the doors to the patterned development of other continents by, for instance, selling 4 major stores, representing nearly 50% of the retail business in Southern Africa, to Walmart. People who have been relying on quality, betting on the African way, cannot be indifferent to the current business trend in this region. And what we truly suspect is that one foot in South Africa means two feet in this continent. Yes, we shall have Walmart stores in Mozambique pretty soon

Two Questions on Education

Education in Mozambique means a daily invasion of the city by children coming from the poor suburban areas. Children have to pay for transportation or walk miles and miles. Or both… Wouldn’t it be less penalizing, for them and their families, to have neighborhood schools? Too expensive for the state budget? I really don’t get it!

The mirage of a good carrier keeps families paying school to children with no particular inclination to studies. I know cases of very poor people who paid 12 years of school to a young man currently working as a delivery boy. And he is one of the lucky ones, since all his colleagues are pretty unemployed.

The school quest here is somehow related with the idea of working less. It’s becoming harder and harder to find good working people like gardeners, electricians, plumbers and so on. How can overcrowded schools recognize talented students and give them all the support they need? And I just don’t understand why children less inclined to study are not learning other valuable skills? I simply don’t get it!

The Reasons

Some time ago I wrote about not being religious. To explain it in just two words, I couldn’t accept why reading some books was a sin. Being punished because of the books I was caught reading is still a bitter memory. John Steinbeck, for instance, a dangerous author! This appetence to read and consequent punishments happened ages 13 and 14.

Before that I was profoundly religious. Everything that I wrote until 12 shows a deep religiousness. And because of that I recently asked myself if it was only the books. Of course not! Reading my diary I found another reason making me rethink religion: confession!

From 11 to 12, now and then, it’s there: I was afraid of confession. I ran away from the confessionary! And why was that? Even today it’s not difficult for me to evoke the shadowy, silent chapel where I had to knee facing the little holes on those wood boxes. I knew that on the other side was a very old priest, 70 or more (he looked to me like 250 years old), insinuating questions. A tone I don’t like or want to remember. Eventually babbling.

“Did you behave today?” (Behave? How could I not behave if I wasn’t alone for a second?)

“How many times you had shameful thoughts today?” (What the heck of a question was that? My constant thought was missing my father and mother!)

I don’t think I could take it the third time. It was really disgusting and disturbing. Planting sins where they don’t belong doesn’t look to me like a good policy. Pushing people into talking about things they don’t want to talk either.

I am not sure how is confession today, but I sincerely hope that priests just lend their ears to people who want to talk about whatever they feel like talking.

(I know Catholic priests are under scrutiny, maybe because things didn’t change that much. They are accused of this and that. Here I accuse too. But at the same time I know for sure that Catholics don’t have the exclusivity of perverts. Somehow I know this is not about religion too. It’s just twisted minds.)