12 March, 2006

Safari Notes: Rediscovering Mozambique

Mozambique is one of those countries that has always interested me a lot. A friend of mine once mentioned to me in the early 1980s, how very fertile land was very cheap there - and there were large tracts of it; I dreamed of going to Mozambique and buying some piece of land. And maybe, moving and settling there. But just like most dreams, other things come in and re-direct course.

I still remember very clearly, how I followed the bloody war for liberation there and the eventual independence in 1975 from the Portuguese; its leader - Samora Machel was one of my heroes then, then came the visionary Joaquim Chissano and now there is Armando Guebuzza. Mozambique, is still very poor; and relies heavily on foreign donors and assistance.

It has other issues too, but compared to what it was just a few years ago, Mozambique has very much improved. Best of all: it has peace now. Families can live in peace and children can go to school; people can carry on with normal life.

A few days ago, when I read this:

'In southeast Africa, on the shores of the Indian Ocean, a jewel emerges from the ruins of war. Mozambique, once torn by civil strife, is rebuilding itself and has never looked more appealing to tourists. With a growing economy and natural wonders from mountains to sea to wildlife-rich parks, this former Portuguese colony offers diversions for visitors of all interests and nationalities.

Mozambique is situated on Africa's largest coastal plain. The mighty Zambezi River flows down from the Inyanga mountains in the west to the beaches of the Indian Ocean. In between, fascinating cities, colonial-era towns, and national parks and wildlife reserves provide glimpses into the life and history of Mozambique and its people.

Mozambique's first inhabitants were San hunters and gatherers. Between the first and fourth centuries AD, Bantu-speaking peoples migrated into the area. In the late 1400s, Portuguese explorers reached Mozambique and established trading posts and forts along the coast. The country became independent in 1975, but was overrun by civil war and economic collapse for more than a decade. Since the 1990s, Mozambique has known peace and has fostered a multi-party political system, market-based economy, and free elections.'

I was filled with joy and relief. Though my dream for a piece of Mozambique didn't come true; the dreams of Mondlane, Machel and Chissano are taking shape. And though it is still only a glow, there is light now in Mozambique.

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