His black and white pictures of Maputo's red-light district were my first preparation for the chapter on the Mozambican capital in my next book
on city life in Africa. The melancholic images
that photographer Ricardo Rangel
took of night life in the harbour in the sixties, haven't lost their appeal. Sailors looking for a lady for the night, a sad eyed woman in a high whig and couples dancing in clubs like Texas Bar
and Noite e Dia
. Rangel was the nestor of photograpy in the Southern African country, an example and master to many young Mozambican photographers such as Mauro Pinto
, with whom I worked at Machangulo for M, the monthly magazine of Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad. Last week Rangel died at the age of 84. His other passion was jazz music. Yesterday at his funeral on Langhuene's cemetery saxophones and trumpets sounded in honour of the deceased and a local Mozambican radio played jazz for 24 hours.
'This is the worst fighting I have ever seen. I have been trapped in my home for two days, with no food to eat. Can you hear the gunfire outside? I am afraid for my life.' An e-mail from Mogadishu by Abdullahi Mohamed Hassan
, a 25-year-old teacher of English. His wife and daughter fled the violence in the Somali capital, he stayed behind to protect their belongings. Hassan sent the to 'message from hell'
, as it was dubbed, to the web site of the BBC. That it became news has a reason: it's one of the few signs of life that reaches us directly from Somalia. Since 1992 we write about the war-stricken country in the Horn of Africa as a country without a functioning government. But that doesn't tell anything about what daily life there looks like. Refugee organisation UNHCR stated this week that the number of people who fled the capital has risen to 96,000
since the outbreak of fighting between government troups and the opposition. But even those numbers are unreliable. They're based on what Somali partners are able to pass on to the UN-desk for Somalia, which for safety reasons is working from Nairobi.