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Global Correspondent Report on South Africa
 

 

 

 

Jeff Spahr-Summers, US

Global Lay-Correspondent Report on South Africa

 

7: Mozambique

 

A good friend of a family friend was friendly with a wealthy man who lived a few miles from our plot. His house was the only house actually on top of the ridge, straddling it, a huge two-story fortress of brick and mortar painted white, of lovely clean Dutch architecture symbolic of Boer heritage. You could see the house from miles away, from either side of the ridge. I had walked across the ridge to the house and beyond many times. I went inside once with Dad. I recall an enormous main room downstairs in the center of the house, very tall ceilings imprisoned by massive wooden beams. Various sets of furniture were sprinkled around the room. There was an amazing fireplace with a mantle of solid Rhodesian (Zimbabwean) copper and the token wildlife busts mounted around the room. On the second floor there was an identical room but with different furniture, different décor. How decadent the house was as it struck me (as opulent as any palace in Europe) and then aghast, I saw the kitchen, an enormous room tiled entirely floor to ceiling with Dutch Delft. It didn’t escape me that he also had screens throughout, I wondered whether the snakes came inside, really, why would they not?

The friend of my parent’s friend’s friend also owned two houses in Mozambique, right next door to each other (we would learn) on a rise above the beach. We were invited to stay there on vacation. It was 1975 (I believe). We were flown to Mozambique in our host’s private plane, without him, and without Mom (who refused to fly in the small plane). We arrived to find the houses, one old, one new, and a private airstrip tucked out in the middle of nowhere. Somehow I wasn’t surprised. This trip was entirely of Dad’s design. The old house had a screened porch but I don’t remember much else about it. It was overlooked by the new house, which I thought particularly practical in design. Six bedrooms (or perhaps it was only four) in a row, all of which opened out to a large room with a vaulted ceiling that ran the length of the house. The wall facing the ocean was entirely glass, a magnificent view on the Indian Ocean. Both houses overlooked a trailer campground out of sight below near the beach, very much like a Zulu Kraal centered with a saloon that was closed during the day but a lively hub bursting with energy after dark. People filed out of the darkness into the saloon where we would mingle with them. I tried to talk with them but no one spoke English (only Portuguese), so I settled for just hanging around and watching them party, sneaking a beer or two when no one was looking, sneaking cigarettes. At closing time they would disappear, not to be seen until the next night as if raised from the dead.

Mozambique was a Portuguese colony for over 450 years. By the time we arrived the country had been embroiled in civil war for almost 10 years, due largely (like South Africa) to their oppressive racial policies, but we never saw any military presence what-so-ever. I think we must have been so far off the beaten track, so far south where the country is slender and dwindles to an end, there just wasn’t any activity. We never saw anyone but the people from the campground at night in the saloon. During the day I spent most of my time walking for miles up the beach, always north, stripped down and swimming. I never saw anyone else on the beach no matter how far I walked, which was fine with me, people tend to freak out when you’re naked, they don’t understand. Africa does that to you, or at least it did it to me. One day we decided to hit the neared town or village, how could we leave this place without a feel for the local populace? We drove south down the beach in the buggies. We drove for at least an hour, perhaps two or even more, I don’t remember how long. I remember; sitting high up on the back of the buggy (not in the seat) wind blown under the baking sun, flying down the endless breathtaking white sand, driving where the sand is still moist from the waves rolling in, being sprayed with mist from the waves, looking for Madagascar.

 

Global Lay-Correspondent Reports on South Africa 1-7

1: On the Move—December 2007

2: Rain—January 2008

3: Culture Shock—February 2008

4: Lord of the Ridge and Fort Scorpion—March 2008

5: Nightmares and Snakes—April 2008

6:  The Natives are Restless—May 2008

7: Mozambique—June 2008 (This page)

 

 

 

 

 

Read  Free Verse Poems by Jeff Spahr-Summers

 

Free Verse—Anita, Mary Jane Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, meanwhile, Homemade Chicken Soup, reasons for raisins, Candle Light, I Know a Rose, Of poems and people, Outside the Emergency Room, Per-spec-tive, Moenie Jou Les Vergeet Nie—on Johannesburg, King of the Manure Pile, Talk About My Girl

 

 

 

 

 

 

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