My buddies and I recently viajou “travelled” to Mozambique to witness the marriage union of one of our dearest friend’s. The journey was so amazing that I had some really great moments of reflection based on the experiences I encountered. I thought it would be great to just express some of those amazing learnings below:
Number 1, Hospitality is such a great gift. Mozambique is a predominately Portuguese speaking country so majority of my friend’s family does not speak much English. But their hospitality was able to cut through and penetrate the language barrier. They were so hospitable that it felt like I was home away from home. I have been to many relatives houses and visited many people whom we speak the same language but some of them have never treated me like that family did. This left me yearning to be more hospitable in my own home.
Secondly, intolerance is the greatest enemy to seeing a united Africa. As tourists we decided to explore a bit of Maputo. As we were heading to one of the neighbouring beaches our taxi was stopped by some of the local policemen. They uttered something in Portuguese to our driver and next thing they asked two of my friend’s for their passports. Unfortunately my friends had left their passports at the house we were staying at. The policemen got really angry and demanded that my friends follow them to the police station. The rest of us pleaded with them and showed them our passports and begged that they don’t take them to the police station. We stepped out of the taxi and one of the policeman got so upset that he uttered in Portuguese that we should get back inside the taxi as this was not South Africa. The other policeman spoke a bit of broken Zulu and said that they were going to make life difficult for us because Mozambicans were being ill-treated in South Africa. We just went into prayer and all I can say is thank God a response came quick…but unfortunately the driver asked for money from us and had to bribe them not to take us to the police station. I came to a painful realisation of just how divided Africa really is.
Thirdly, what separate us are just languages and borders. As we entered Mozambique we were marvelled at how green the land was. I remember uttering words to my friend next to me and saying this feels just like another part of South Africa to me. She then went on to utter the words “my sister it’s just language and borders that separates us but at the end of the day we are all the same”…I really loved that statement and it’s so true, the earth/land in itself is the same everywhere but its human beings that have decided through certain world systems that we are different.
Fourthly, Gratitude is life giving. As we proceeded with the journey and I looked at the beautiful green landscape, I also saw some really saddening things. I saw houses which looked like match boxes and the most horrible dirt filled slums and was heart shattered at the idea that people lived in these conditions. I saw some really bad Infrastructure and bad roads and I realised that people are really poor out there. One of the things I really appreciate about travelling is that it opens up your eyes to the reality of the bigger world around you. It also leaves you full of gratitude knowing that there are so many things to be grateful for in your own country.
Finally, the selfie revolution has taken over! I was so shocked and amused as I gazed at the world around me from South Africa to Mozambique. I noticed pockets of people posing in front of the camera in both countries. There was a particular group that stood out for me; they were dressed in a church uniform and both the men and the women gathered together. One particular gentleman even went to the extent of lifting his 2 litre coca cola bottle and posing with it as if the audiences who would be looking at this picture would admire it as they would if he was posing next to a Bentley, I couldn’t help but just laugh so much at this sight…
After these five main reflections, I now understand when Saint Augustine said, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page”.