Sunday, November 22, 2009

Saturday Oct 24, 2009

We started the day with breakfast where we met Santos, a former student and recent graduate from the Chissano institute who was going to be one of our translators during our visit. Santos turned out to be a friend. We then took a quick trip to the mall for currency exchange and to buy some snacks. I must say Mozambique is a beautiful country also but unlike South Africa with it’s modern architecture built in the early 80’s n 90’s, Mozambique’s although young in independence has older buildings that were built in the 60’s. However, there were a LOT and I mean a LOT of construction going on and a few newer building, like the Maputo Shopping Center we went to. My roommate and I bought some snacks and I got a Vodacom sim card and a calling card to be able to use a phone I had taken with me for such purpose. Unfortunately, it did not work because the phone was locked and I ended up losing the sim card. It was interesting being in the streets and seeing the election commotion-flyers, posters, billboards, all advertising the parties candidates and urging the people to go and vote on the 28th. Now most of these were of Guebuza, Frelimo’s candidate and the incumbent. Keep in mind that Frelimo has the majority if not all the support of Maputo. So that tells you that most of what we saw was of and for Frelimo/Guebuza. Even at the mall, there was a store selling Frelimo’s electoral memorabilia and gears. Outside the store we a group of young people also selling Frelimo’s products. We inteviewed a few of them on camera for our documentary and a few of my colleagues bought some Frelimo gear. I personally did not and felt that as observers and researchers, it was better and beneficial to remain neutral. Seen wearing a frelimo gear or that of the other parties would take away our credibility and neutrality. Some of my colleagues argued they could do the same for the other political parties which they did not do and that they did not intend wearing or using anything political that they might have brought, which they did not do.

While wating in the bus for the rest of my colleagues after my roommate and I were done shopping, I decided to pick the mind of Costa, our bus driver. Our brief conversation was translated by his friend and assistant who also happened to work at the hotel at which we stayed.He like many others in Maputo was a Frelimo supporter. He was very passionate about his support for Frelimo and said it with such conviction that one would think his life depended on it. He praised Frelimo for their effort in Mozambique’s independence and as he put it “They fought for us”. He said that Frelimo had provided jobs and education for the people and did a lot of good things. Ironically, this was a guy who was not educated and could not speak English. He said that the opposition was bad and brought war to the people. Not many people would share his views. After our trip to the mall, we went back to the hotel and prepared ourselves for the day ahead. We then decided to visit the offices of these political parties especially Frelimo. We met the chair of one of the local offices and head of that district in Maputo. Here was an overzealous and very confident man who was a 110% sure that Frelimo would win the elections…again, as always. However, he was very open and vocal about the state of Democracy in Mozambique. He like many others after him whom we interviewed, stated that democracy in Mozambique is very young. He mentioned that not a lot of people knew much about democracy.

While we were interviewing him inside his office, Prof. Anderson and a few of my other colleagues on the trip were interviewing some of the local people outside most of whom were Frelimo’s members. After our interview, we were given some pamphlets about Frelimo including the Electoral Manisfesto which one of my colleagues joked about and said “ Frelimo’s Electoral Manisfesto is to win every election for the next 30 yrs”. Outside the office were a lot of women wearing what we call Lappa in Liberia(a woven cloth that can be worn a couple of ways: sewn as a suit, dress, skirt, headwrap…etc) It is called Wrappa in Nigeria and interestingly, it is called Capulana in Mozambique. Well this was a specially designed capulana with for Frelimo with the party’s logo and the face of Guebuza…..there were many made for Pres. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in Liberian when she won the elections. There were also a lot of kids outside singing” Vota Guebuza” in English “ Vote Guebuza”. How interesting…these were all kinds between the ages of 6-9. After our interview and filming, we went around Renamo and MDM but were closed. On our way back, we saw a rally of Frelimo with music blasting and people singing and dancing…mostly kinds under the voting age of 18 and with my experience with elections and campaigning from Liberia’s 1997 and 2006 elections, I instantly recognized the rally and pointed out to the group. Although we had already passed, as Costa turned the bus around, some of my colleagues doubted me and could not believe a rally could be like a musical concert…LOL.. We however stopped by and took some clips and the kids couldn’t resist the camera…I t was fun.We then went for dinner at Princesa and Italian restaurant where the Health group( we were divided into three groups- Health, Education/Legal studies and Religion/Culture, the last I was part of). Interestingly the Health group had met a group of MDM supporters campaigning in the city and even joined their convoy. The came to the restaurant with a poster of Simango…..I became interested in MDM.

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