Category Archives: Mozambique

The country of my birth, Mozambique

M2, Idai, Loadshedding, Fibre, Crochet Project

Ok, well I’m finding my way back into blogging. I confess to having missed it. I checked into my WordPress reader to keep up with other bloggers but I was patchy at best.

Today is a public holiday in South Africa. Things are interesting here at the moment. Loadshedding (rolling blackouts) are back because the situation with Eskom, our state owned energy provider is crumbling under the effects of long term corruption, bad decisions and lack of maintenance. Leadership has been changed in the last six months or so, especially after our previous president stepped down. The reality is that all of our state owned enterprises are bankrupt, from our national airline to the railways to the energy provider.

Couple that with the closure of the M2 bridges which are a main arterial to cross the Johannesburg city from North to South and from East to West, and it makes getting around Joburg an adventure. It turns out that the bridges in Johannesburg have not been maintained in decades and the M2 is showing signs of structural damage making it unsafe for cars to travel along it.

I’m sorry if this post is a bit bleak and I’m giving you my fed-up rant. It is biased I know.

South Africa is a beautiful country, the weather is some of the best in the world. And South Africans take everything in their stride. We survive and in some cases thrive. Life goes on and we must move forward. I still worry though…

That’s the bleak rant. Now for some positive news. We finally got fibre. After years of battling with sub-par ADSL our online experience just got better. It took us a while to get all the configs and set up done mainly because neither me nor Che were home long enough to see things through to the end with the service provider. We eventually did, and I’m smiling ūüôā

We’re having a wonderfully hot autumn – it’s 30 degrees today and has been the same since last week. Rainy season is over here in the highveld, unlike our northern neighbours of Mozambique (my homeland :-)), Zimbabwe and Malawi. Cyclone Idai made landfall in Beira a few days ago. Beira is already a city located below sea-level. With the winds and the rains, there is an inland sea stretching long distances. It’s a humanitarian crisis, with people dead, missing, or in vulnerable situations and in danger of starving before help reaches them. These are people who are still on the roofs of their homes, waiting to be rescued. Many resources have been mobilised here is South Africa to help. Have a look at this short drone footage of the damage close to the shore.

There is a huge inland lake created by the floods, ” European Space Agency images show a huge new inland ‚Äúlake‚ÄĚ measuring about 80 miles by 15 miles (125km by 25km)”

The disaster stretches to Zimbabwe and Malawi too, where people are going to be needing food aid for the next 3 months, according to the World Food Programme.

I did say I was going to write positive stuff and it quickly turned sad…

A positive note is that I’ve taken up my crochet project again – I’m crocheting (is this the right spelling?) a bed spread in bamboo yarn. It’s so soft and sustainable too. I get my yarns from Natural Yarns in Kommetjie, and use the Vinnis Colours from the Serina range. Natural Yarns in turn source their yarns from women from an economically depressed rural area of South Africa. The yarn is hand-dyed and balled, and the sale of this product has empowered and brought economic benefits to their community. The yarn is colour fast and the hand-dyed yarn gives my garment a marbled effect. I have 400 granny squares to make and I’ve completed 117! What do you think of the effect?

Well I started off this post with no specific plan…only to reconnect with you, my readers. It started off with complaining about loadshedding and the closure of the M2 in Joburg, raved about the new fibre connection we have, then took a bit of dip into the Cyclone Idai disaster and up again when I spoke about continuing with my crochet project. My crochet hook and yarn is calling me and I must end off here, this post that is longer than normal for me. If you’re reading this, thank you for making is this far. And leave me a comment ūüėČ

Regina

 

M Is For Mozambique (Nostalgia)

Mozambique, the land of my birth still evokes tightening of the heartstrings whenever I visit. It’s been too long…and I feel the call again. Here are some pics of some of my favourite locales…making me feel so nostalgic…

Considered one of the world’s most beautiful train stations, the historic Maputo Railway Station (Esta√ß√£o Central dos Caminhos de Ferro) connects Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe. My great-grandfather was once its Station Master.

In 2009, the American magazine Newsweek ranked the station #7 on a list of "Train stations as grand as the journey", and described it as "probably" the most beautiful terminus in Africa. In 2011, the American travel magazine Travel + Leisure included it in a list of the world's 14 most beautiful railway stations. In 2016, the station was included on a list of nine beautiful train stations published by The Financial Express, an Indian business newspaper. (Source)
Isn’t it beautiful? The historic Maputo Railway Station (Esta√ß√£o Central dos Caminhos de Ferro) – it connects Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe. Considered one of the world’s most beautiful train station buildings, my grandfather was once its Station Master.
©2018 Regina Martins

It was inspired by the original old central terminus in Johannesburg, but much grander. The original wooden revolving doorway into the train station, beautifully preserved.

Original wood revolving doorway into the train station, beautifully preserved.
©2018 Regina Martins

People and vehicles disembarking the ferry from Maputo to Catembe – this is the Catembe side. The ride takes about 15-20 minutes.

Disembarking from the ferry from Maputo to Catembe – this is the Catembe side
©2018 Regina Martins

Beautiful panoramic view of the city, as viewed from Catembe.

Beautiful panorama of Maputo
©2018 Regina Martins

Panorama of Maputo from Catembe, providing a good view of the Polana area.

Panorama of Maputo from Catembe, good view of the Polana area
©2018 Regina Martins

A popular venue for weddings is the iconic Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Maputo, the pristine white of its facade blinding when the days are bright.

Many a wedding takes place at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Maputo
©2018 Regina Martins

Maputo is a mere 45-minute flight from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg making it easy to reach this popular tourist destination, and the gateway to the rest of the attractions in Mozambique, from beaches of white sands and azure waters to diving coral reefs to safaris at its many game parks.

I hope that you will visit it one day.

 

South Africa, my home

I am a lucky person because I have two homes!

Now some of you may know that I was born in Mozambique. My family left sometime during the 70’s to settle in South Africa. Because of the civil war that raged for another twenty or so years, I only returned to Mozambique, on holiday, 20 years after I left. It was a road trip and when I crossed the border into Mozambique I felt a¬†mixed bag of feelings of longing, nostalgia and a sense of coming home. Mozambique is my soul home.

Sometime in the 80’s I became a South African citizen, the country that I feel a deep sense of belonging, the roots deep. In 2001 Che and I travelled to Portugal for my brother-in-law’s wedding. It was February, rainy and cold. Aside from the wedding it was a miserable time due to the weather. Born and bred in Africa where there is sun at least 300 days of the year, this European winter is foreign and doesn’t do it for me.

After two weeks I was glad to be on a plane back to South Africa again. As the plane touched down at OR Tambo airport in Joburg I started to cry because for the first time ever I felt that I was home, really home.

South Africa is my heart home, my real home, the home I will fight for, love and hate, cry and laugh over. It’s a tough home, one that teaches responsibility, that has no room for freeloaders or complainers. It takes real guts to live in South Africa. South Africa is filled with beautiful, tough and courageous people.¬†It’s definitely not a place for sissies.

South African flag
The flag of South Africa

I have 6 + 1 names

I have 6 official names. It is customary in Portuguese tradition to give a child a first and a second name. Then the maternal grandmother’s name and the maternal grandfather’s name. Followed by the paternal grandmother’s name, finished off with the paternal grandfather’s name which is also the father’s name. So no one is forgotten.

Modern Portuguese parents are dispensing with all of this and I agree. The “old” way ¬†makes it lengthy, and the poor child (and later adult) has to explain time and time again why they have so many names. ¬†And official forms, for example, never have enough space for all of them.

My first and second names are the same as my Mom’s friend who is also my Godmother. I was named after her. ¬†For many years I didn’t like my first name – Regina. It was too serious and grown up. It wasn’t a little girl’s name. I much preferred to be called by my nickname – Gigi.

When I was born, my uncle, who was a well-known writer, was a fan of the movie Gigi with Leslie Caron and Maurice Chevalier, and decided that would be a good name for the first grandchild of the family. ¬†He also wrote a song of the same name and dedicated it to me, which was sung by a famous songstress of the time in Mozambique, Natercia Barreto. I don’t have a copy of this song, it was probably lost when our family fled from Mozambique. I’ve searched YouTube and even though there are songs by Natercia Barreto, Gigi is not there. I have doubted its existence, although some relatives do say it exists. When I find a copy I will most certainly blog about it :-)!

So the name Gigi stuck and I’m only known as Regina academically and professionally.

The name Gigi has also been the source of many jokes – “Ha ha, my dog’s name is also Gigi!”

When I got married the feminist in me decided not to take my husband’s name – I would then have 7 names! I had to write a letter to the government asking that the population register be changed to my unmarried surname, because in South Africa (at the time) it was assumed that a wife would take her husband’s name, ¬†without the common courtesy of asking or confirming! You can imagine how this went down well with me!

When I registered my marriage in Portugal (many Portuguese people are registered in the country of domicile and the country of ancestry), the government there asked me how I wanted to be known – so no assumptions were made! I was most pleasantly surprised that my individuality and dignity was considered.

Regina is Latin for “queen”. It is pronounced “ruh-JEE-nuh” NOT “ruh-JY-nuh”. My high school principal used to call me “ruh-JY-nuh”. ¬†No matter how many times I told her the correct pronunciation, she continued pronouncing it incorrectly – leaving me feeling mortifyingly embarrassed time and time again.

I have been called many variants of my name – Reg, Reggy, Reginald (I went to an all girls school and we all had male versions of our names) – and have grown to love the uniqueness of my name…Regina.

Featured image courtesy of http://www.dreamstime.com/ (latest stock photos and free images)