Tudo Bom

July 4th

I’ve just returned from an afternoon walk through Manga, a community near Beira, Mozambique. I skipped out a bit early today from work so I could take an hour to wander. I wanted to make sure to do so alone so I could drink in every drop of village life at my own pace. I’ll soon be back on an airplane. This was a great chance to stretch my legs and fill my head with the sights, sounds and scents of my sweet Africa.
School children in colorful uniforms race around on the street, excited about the pending weekend. Vendors line up their tangerines, small bags of peanuts and cashews and stacks of easily bruised bananas. Bootlegged movies scream from makeshift movie theaters — a reed shack with heavy black plastic draped over the roof to provide darkness in the otherwise sunny day. I wonder how these entrepreneurs rigged the electricity, found a DVD player, were able to purchase movies?
A friend said this week that a book should be written on African ingenuity. There is no end to the creativity of these people. Children make elaborate toys from wire, recycled bottles and plastic bags. Women find new uses for the oddest things. Clothing is worn until it is thread bare and then is used for bandages or cleaning scraps. Bicycles are repaired time and time again; welders sit on the side of the road with parts hanging from avocado trees.
There is a simplicity and beauty to African life that one can’t help but appreciate. In Manga, you eat what you grow. If your children are lucky, they have uniforms and basic supplies to attend school for one of the three-hour sessions offered daily. You walk everywhere. You know your neighbors and you know that life is fleeting.
It is hard to explain why I feel so alive here, so connected to the people. When I lived in Cameroon, I was just 20 years old and so scared and culturally shocked. My first experience traveling to Mozambique wasn’t much better. Now, with several more stamps in my passport, I am sad to be leaving after spending a month wandering and working. My heart beats differently — it is as though I am more connected to God and have a clearer purpose. I simply love Africa. The people have so much to teach me. The land never ceases to leave me in awe. Mozambican women are absolutely incredible. I saw a 20-something mother yesterday who had a young baby on her back, wrapped in a bright capulana, a child at her feet, a swollen, pregnant belly leading her, and a shovel balanced perfectly on her head. When I looked at her in complete admiration, she smiled. Such responsibility and such happiness!
Tonight I’m celebrating the 4th of July with a group of Americans. We’re making pizza and there were rumors about Chinese fireworks found at the bendover market. We are ever more thankful for independence, celebrating our country in one that is new to democracy. We are also ever aware of the turmoil in nearby Harare, as Robert Mugabe continues the active distruction of Zimbabwe. The immigration riots in South Africa also have Mozambicans worried. Their democracy is a precious commodity on a continent where the majority of leaders are dictators. A reminder of their violent past blows in the wind; their national flag includes an AK47.
One of the favorite expressions here is “how is it?” Mozambicans ask me this regularly and I laugh. At first I responded, “I don’t know? How is it?” Soon enough I learned the right response was “tudo bom” — everything is groovy. Indeed, this 4th of July, tudo bom.


Posted in
Africa, Journal, Travel
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14 Responses

  1. Happy 4th, friend. You are certainly celebrating the day in an interesting place!
    I’ve so enjoyed reading your “travelblog” lately!
    Many Wishes for continued safe travels.

  2. I’m so glad you can be in a place that fills you with such joy and love. What a gift. Enjoy your 4th and travel home safely!

  3. Happy 4th Kelli! Safe journey home.

  4. LisaAC July 5, 2008

    The 4th, here in America, was bombarded with fireworks. What a great night that was.

    I’m lucky to balance a book on my head, much less a shovel. The balance these people have is incrediable. She sounds like a wonderful mother.

    A friend of mine, who is American and now living in Mexico, said that the children there are poor in her Villa but so very happy. They have so little, rarely any toys, but make their own. Two of her neighbor’s children make kites out of bags. I remember trying that as a child and remember it not working too well for me at least.

    Anyways, I hope you had a great 4th.
    Safe trip home.

  5. Love these posts Kelli!

  6. Happy 4th! And have a safe trip home!

  7. I love your blog, I have just stumbled upon it. Its so interesting to read all about what you are doing and the way of life in Africa.

    Gill from Canada.

  8. Piecake July 6, 2008

    Happy 4th. Thank you for all the stories of Africa.

    Safe Travels

  9. At 16 I went to Norway for a year and while it is is considered the western world, it was so different in the eyes of a 16 year old from California. I came home with so much appreciation for America. And I also realized how much we take for granted. I never thought that would be a lesson I would learn when I signed up. I sometimes look at my children and I worry how much they take this lifestyle for granted. We’ve considered sponsoring a child from Africa. Do you have any organizations that you would recommend? Our radio station just went over to Africa to see their sponsored children and it was wonderful to here their stories.

  10. Hey Kelli,

    It’s amazing what a difference travel can make to your life isn’t it? I was once told that a tourist goes to see the sites and shop, a traveler goes to meet people, eat the food, and experience the life. I think that is so true. At least for me anyway.

  11. Happy 4th to you. God Bless America. Thank you for sharing your stories of Africa. We are blessed for our abundance here. I wish for happiness and health for everyone.

  12. Kelli–Thanks so much for some wonderful posts about your time away. You’re a wonderful writer and it just takes me away to another place far away from my home and office. Your sharing is one of the things I’m grateful for.

  13. Happy travels friend. Thank you so much for your servant heart. You inspire me to do more, follow my own heart tuggings and to live out what I believe.

    Many Blessings!

    P.S. I leave for Nic. on Friday…three of the many, many things I am taking down are the three t-shirts my boys made for your Nic. trip that I never got mailed in time.

  14. Ingenuity is universal if one’s environment so demands. I remember seeing that when I lived there.