Mozambique is the only
country to depict a weapon on its flag. Apparently it is to signify
the armed struggle that they underwent to achieve their
When we were living in Northern Rhodesia, we used to go on holiday
once a year to the coast of Mozambique ... to Beira. The journey
was over 1,000 miles and took us about 3 days by vehicle to get
there. The roads were good, but were "dirt roads".
Mozambique has always been named Mozambique although it is
sometimes spelt the Portuguese way "Mocambique".
About the time we started going to Beira my father acquired a cine
camera. Most of the time now he used this camera for taking
memories of the trips.
Beira was a busy and industrial capital and the Portuguese were
hospitable people. It was popular with holiday makers who, like
ourselves, made the trip by vehicle. We stayed in the camping
resorts on the coast.
Of Beira I remember visiting the Chinese quarter where ivory
carvings were on sale in abundance.
The Chinese were
intricate carvers and these huge elephant tusks were carved into
microcosms of Chinese culture and tiny figurines.
I was captivated by
all the things in the shops ... not understanding at the time that
some poor beast had sacrificed its life at the hands of some
poacher so that the tourist could take home some intricately
carved, but valuable, trinket.
The sea at Beira was amazing! In the mornings the tide was out and
the sea was calm peaceful and serene.
We used to walk down to the old wrecked ship and wander through its
rusty cavernous structure half buried in the sands. The sea swirled
around its gaping ribs which were encrusted with millions of tiny
limpets. We used to try and prize them off ? but they would never
budge! I still remember the smell of that old wreck.
In the afternoons the tide came in and the waves would crash along
the beach. Swimming was impossible. The waters would drag your feet
from under you pulling you into a mixture of foam and sand. You
would come up only to be hit square in the face by yet another of
I once saved my mum, who could not swim, from drowning. I was only
about 8 years old at the time. One of the waves had knocked her
down in the shallows and of course the surge of the sea
carried her under water and she could not get her footing in the
sand. I was standing next to her and with all my strength pulled
her back up onto her feet.
A similar incident happened to one of my mum's friends, Molly
Galvin, who came with us to Beira with her husband and two
Molly took a lilo
(air-bed) into the sea but again the sea and surf were too strong
and Molly was unceremoniously dumped on the beach by the waves.
After that Molly refused to go into the water!
At the beach I remember there was a shop that sold brightly
coloured balls, buckets and spades ... and icecream that was
heavenly! There was also a roller-skate park. Sea Pines that hissed
in the wind. And the ever scorching sun!
Across the road from the camping ground were the restaurants on the
Esplanade. We used to eat at one of them. They had a resident
Portuguese band who played lovely music ... still to this day I am
trying to find a particular song that they used to sing. I cant
remember the name but I will know it when I hear it!
Some images from around Beira ... the shipwrecks that now litter
the shores are as a result of the war in Mocambique.
One night my father and some friends sat talking about some old
fort at Nova Sofala down the coast ... about 40 miles away. My
father wanted to see it.
Even I became
captivated as I lay in my camp-cot in the semi-dark listening to
tales of old sea-farers coming ashore with gifts to trade with the
natives for gold and ivory.
And how they decided
to stay and build this huge magnificent stone fort heavily laden
with canons to protect their beloved Africa and its people from
marauding pirates ... the Dutch and the Arabs!
Some in the group
dismissed it as fanciful-talk ... legends. But not my
Distainfully and full of intrepidation my mother dutifully got up
at 4a.m. the next day, made breakfast and we packed the khombi
ready for another safari! My father and I full of enthusiasm.
The road was rough ... at times there was no road. Following
directions on the scanty map was a nightmare.
My mother groaned "please turn back". My father swore and cursed
"I'll get to this place if it is the last thing I do!" I sat in the
back and played with my dolls wondering which was the better evil
... my fathers determined temper, or getting lost never to be found
I remember seeing tall palm trees.
I remember coming across a group of natives who had just
slaughtered some wild boar. I remember seeing the bloody entrails
being spilled over the grass at the side of this bridge ... some
poles strung together across the river!
I remember the cursing of my father as we yet again nearly ventured
over some precipice. And the road becoming ever increasingly
narrower ... bumpier ... full of potholes and crevases. I
could hear my mother silently praying to god even though she never
prayed in her life!
Finally, just as the sun was setting, at about 5.30 in the evening
we came across some abandoned, crumbling pile of bricks vaguely
representing a fort perched on the rocky outcrop overlooking the
Was this it?! Was this what we had risked our life to see?!! Where
was the wonderous fort that my mind had conjured up???
Even my dad couldn't raise a note of gasping awe!
There was nothing that we could do ... but turn around and make the
gruelling trip back to Beira again .... In the dark!!!
I don't remember anything of the trip back ... except where we
stopped in the black of night by a river ... I needed the toilet,
but as I pulled my knickers down every goddamn mosquito in the
entire universe descended for dinner!!!!
We finally limped back into Beira's warm welcoming lights at 4.30
in the morning ... and my father suffered the rest of the holiday
sheepishly on the beach!
But the trip never put him off his adventurous ways
On another occasion we went to the Gorongoza Game Reserve
Everything was fine, we were watching all the wildlife ... giraffe,
zebras, antelope, lions ...
We sat watching this group of lions. They were lazing about very
close to the road looking like cats wanting their bellies scratched
... after about half and hour we drove off.
But then my dad noticed the mud-flap drop off the khombi's wheel
... so he reversed back to where it had fallen ... near the lions
... about 3 metres away!
My mother and I couldn't believe it when he then calmly got out of
the car, walked over to the mud flap and picked it up!
The female lion didn't flinch ... she carried on laying on her
back, paws in the air ... and just looked at him!
My dad then calmly walked back, got into the car and ....
The male lion got up, strolled over to the khombi, cocked his leg
up and pissed on the wheel ?!!
And that is a true story!!
Route: Manzini - Helehele - Mpaka - Maphiveni - Lomahasha /Namaacha
(border) - Lourenco Marques - San Martinho
When we lived in Swaziland, we went on holidays to Mocambique.
We at first went to the capital, Lourenco Marques, which is now
called Maputo and then we went to a small village up the coast
called San Martinho which is now called Bilene .
The road through Swaziland up to Mpaka was tarred and then to the
border post the road was gravel.
We used to go with the Golesworthy family. John Golesworthy didn't
like travelling on his own on the dirt roads so we travelled in
"convoy". This had its problems because John used to put his foot
down a bit and leave us behind as the khombi was slower than his
Peugeot estate. The other problem was that travelling behind
another vehicle on a gravel road you get swallowed up by clouds of
dust kicked up by the wheels of the car in front. John and my dad
used to take turns who was going to "eat dust".
Travelling through the lowveld you often used to see hornbills on
the road digging in the dirt for worms and other insects.
Artist Joan Beuche
Just across the border, at Namaacha, we used to stop for lunch at a
little Portuguese restaurant. They always used to serve the food
sprinkled with black olives. One day us older kids told young Paul
Golesworthy who was about 3 at the time, that they were
grapes. Paul loved grapes, so we said he could have all ours. Paul
was delighted and so happy at the generosity of us older kids ...
until he bit into an olive! He wasn't amused, it was bitter, and we
laughed at him! He never trusted us or round black fruit again.
On the way to Lourenco Marques we used to pass a lot of yellow bark
trees, and the road was slightly undulating - I think because of
the sandy soil, even though it was tarred. Closer to the sea you
started seeing palm trees.
Leopard in Fever Tree
In the city we used to stay on a caravan park. We set up camp in
the khombi, while the Golesworthys rented a chalet. They always had
a chalet as Pat Golesworthy liked her creature comforts and thought
camping was for peasants.
The sea was different to Beira ... being in a bay it was
calmer. We spent a lot of time on the beach and going to places in
the city ... museums, the old fort, statues of this guy and that
guy. We also used to stop and have refreshments at a little café
that had table and chairs outside. They used to make the most
wonderful cakes and we always ordered a plate full with our
I don't have any photos of Lourenco Marques as my dad used the cine
camera. These are ones I found on the net.
After a while my dad got bored with the city and wanted to
"explore" Mocambique. He read about a place up the coast called San
Martino that was situated in a series of lagoons. He thought it
would be an ideal place to take the boat.
Getting to San
Martinho was a bit of a nightmare. The road was good until we
crossed the "flats". This area is reputed for flooding and
continual heavy downpours broke up the tar in places. Nevertheless,
we used to get there.
San Martino was lovely ... white sandy beaches, sea that you only
see in picture postcards. Clear blue water that you could wade out
in and it would only come up to your waist. And of course there was
the boating ...
The place where we used to stay was called Parque Flores which in
Portuguese means Flower Park. It was very quaint.
A river ran through the park that was covered in exotic water
lilies. There was a roller skate rink, mini golf, a shop and
restaurant, and the park was lit at night by lights in the shape of
The Ravages of War
Africon Rebuilds Mocambique
The war for
Independence left many scars on the country, not only in terms of
human cost ... the loss of life and the hasty departure of the
Portuguese ... but on the lovely old colonial buildings! Many of
them lay for years in wrack and ruin ... items of pristine white
beauty turned into dishevelled carnage of peeling paintwork and
stripped timbers. Tarmacked roads pitted with bomb craters and
neglect ... nature quickly reclaims its habitats, but this time it
wasn't Africa that was taking over ... it was it's