On a construction site yesterday, I watched these broad-shouldered men carry planks of large steel and other various materials to build something that would take months to create, several metres high, stretching into the sky. As I watched it was a reminder that the goals we strive so hard for may seem unreachable or hard to imagine…but they are often just a matter of the will. A thing that looks a stretch of the imagination is only 16 weeks away from the end.
Take Mia Couto’s perspective on the identity of Mozambique: tortured by a history of colonialist impositions by Portugual, divisions of tribes and regions by the strains of political parties like Frelimo and Renamo all in the name of liberty … and so what is the country left with today? Languages that began from the founding FRELIMO members: Swahili, Makhuwa, Bantu, and/or English. Indeed, the irony is that Portuguese is the official language. How strange that the identity construction is one outside of the modern foundation of the independent Mozambique that is recognized today. This is a topic I will revisit later this month but I find fascinating in light of the way foreigners here view the identity of a country that puzzles them so.
It is lazy, it is strange, it is not as they imagined – we can reduce this concept to the people or the villages or the work we see but that would just oversimplify. Mia Couto, winner of the Noustadt International prize (only before the Nobel in literature) envisions Mozambique as a nation that is constructed by the way history, poets and others ‘write’ the narrative. You can find him on my february 21st entry here of the poetry catalog: http://wp.me/P4e2Bz-6U
If this is the case, these foreigners are a part of history too. Like these buildings I see reaching their arms towards the heavens, it is Mozambique that will become something, capitalist monster (U.S.A), wild card/alien (North Korea) or the new kid on the block (China). What should we expect next?
For now, we will wait in expectation as I do for my own question marks that poke and prod my reflections – only travel is what inspires me to recraft my identity. (Morocco below) So that must do for the moment.