The resemblance in style with Che Guevara's famous portrait struck me from afar. In front of the faculty of sociology of the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane stands this sign with the portrait of Mondlane, the first leader of the Mozambican liberation movement Frelimo. Mystification of political figures one finds all over Africa. The heroes often have in common that their lives were cut short. Cynically one could argue that they died before they had the chance to renounce their revolutionary principles. But there's more to it. I am reading The Soccer War
again, and as always with Kapuściński
his insights bring me many an illuminating moment. He explains the hero-worship by pointing at Africa's robbed history: 'The awakened Africa needs great names. (...) For centuries the history of the continent has been anonymous. (...) Asia had Confucius and Buddha, Europe Shakespeare and Napoleon. No name that the world would know emerges from the African past. (...) And now almost every year the great march of Africa, as if making up for the irreversible delay, new names are inscribed in history'(more)
That socialism really is history becomes clear when a country's president teaches a lesson on capitalism on the front page of the government newspaper. The first paper I bought after arriving in Maputo quotes Mozambican president Guebuza's reaction to a request from farmers in Zambezia. They find themselves in a cutthroat competition with Malawi colleagues who are swamping the market with cheap tomatoes, ever since floods hit the area. The agricultural sector in this province is having a hard time recovering and is therefore asking for protectionist measures. But the president of the ruling - once marxist - Frelimo party said this was out of the question. He advised the Zambezia farmers to produce more crops in order to compete with Malawi. He did refer to the past as well though: many Mozambicans found refuge in Malawi during the years of war.
It might seem trivial, but to a writer hardly anything is more important than good notebooks. And it is not easy to please me in that sense: the lines should be exactly far enough apart, it should have a ring binder at its left side and the size can't be over 16,5 X 21 cm. For years I was carelessly happy with the grey notebooks I bought at the Dutch Hema store, that exactly fulfilled all my wishes. Until all of a sudden the grey ones were replaced by shiny blue and green ones. Desastrous, as this innovation also came with supposedly practical perforated lines in the margin in order to tear the pages out more easily, so easily in fact that they were coming off even while I was writing. A logistical nightmare for notes which are supposed to be kept for years. For over a year I've been looking for a proper replacement, finally finding it last Monday in an office stationer's at the Neude in my home town Utrecht. Notebooks from the French brand Clairefontaine: good quality paper, no perforations or other kinds of misery and a sturdy binder. So in an hour or so I'm getting on the plane to Mozambique with decent tools. Now I'm just praying that this collection will never be discontinued...
Only the fence top painted in the Rastafarian colors red, yellow and green remains as a proof of its existence. The building itself, a Rastafarian temple on the edge of London's Kennington Park
, has been torn down last year. I managed to stay in London for the first time in my life and not see any of the traditional tourist sites (as is always my goal). But I did spend a wonderful afternoon on a bench in this park in South London. Not just any park. In the revolutionary year 1848 for example, the site was a gathering place for the democratic Chartists. And the torn down temple on St Agnes Place, squatted since the seventies and supposedly visited by Bob Marley, used to be a headquarter of the UK's Rastafarian community. Last year in April though the police raided the temple
, saying it had been taken over by drug suppliers. 23 people were arrested, but no one was ever convicted and no evidence was ever offered of class A drugs being present. Two months ago the trial against the only five people who were actually charged collapsed
. Of course by then the building had already been demolished.