Tag Archives: Mozambique



For some reason, I’m thinking about the Brazilian Portuguese word saudade. I’ve never been to a live performance, but my exposure to saudade music goes way way back.

I’m remembering my radio listening days in the 1950s, when the dial was firmly stuck on LM Radio – or, to give it the full title: Radio Club de Mozambique – please aurally visualize a heavy Portuguese accent. In those years the station was unashamedly Portuguese orientated; today, hardly at all, with the target audience living in South Africa.

Back then, I would have heard the melancholy, oh so wistful slow tones of an obviously heartbroken woman pouring out of my tinny radio, despite the poor reception. I say “tinny radio” deliberately, because way back then, many radios did come enclosed in a thin metal (tin?) casing.
The definition of saudade is: Saudade was once described as “the love that remains” after someone is gone. Thank you Wikipedia!



Later in my life I made the happy discovery of the Cape Verde singer, Cesare Evora and bought her CDs. Which reminds me: I should haul them out and give them a spin, just for old times sake. If you’ve never listened to Cesare Evora LINK then now would be a good time to explore the romantic, emotional saudade songs . I’ve put in a YouTube link. But if you’re currently suffering from a broken heart, then maybe not!



Filed under music, PRESENT & FUTURE



Browsing through Old Friends from Far Away by Natalie Goldberg, sparked several thoughts in me. While eating my breakfast this morning I was reflecting how, when you’re a kid, you seldom understand the context of events. And when I was young nobody ever explained context to us – we were supposed to be seen and not heard, and constant questions were not welcomed or tolerated.
Continuing this train of thought I remember reading LIFE magazine and an article on the death of Leon Trotsky. Somehow the blurry black and white photos remain a fading memory to this day. Quite why the article made such an impression on me, I can’t explain. Perhaps because the man was murdered, and my Dad’s murder mysteries were my reading resource.
Considering I lived in a remote backwater of the dying British Empire, it was a miracle I even had a copy of LIFE magazine in my hands at all. There were no bookstores in the country. Granted, the Catholic Church and the Church of Scotland had bookstores, but they stocked only religious or educational materials.
The expat community subscribed to a wide range of British and American magazines , which trundled slowly over the ocean, via the post, and fell into our eager hands many months after publication. The magazines were greedily consumed and then circulated around the district on a rota. Each magazine had a list pinned to the cover, with the names of the recipients. You were honour bound to read the magazine quickly, and then send it on to the next name, perhaps with a few magazines from your own hoard. If the next recipient lived fairly close by, you sent your gardener with the precious bundle – on his bicycle if he owned such a luxury, or on his feet if he didn’t.
But if the next recipient lived on a far distant tea estate, you would take your bundle up to the Sports Club on your weekly visit, and pass it over to the next person. Or ask another member to do you a favour and act as go-between and postman. Everybody obliged. The magazines were a link to the outside world, to civilization, to HOME. That mythical , longed-for Paradise, over the ocean. Far, far away from Nyasaland*, in tropical Africa.
So: when I read about the death of Leon Trotsky in Mexico all those years ago, the news was not by any means fresh, given the magazine circulation system. Our family didn’t subscribe to LIFE, we were merely on the rota. I had absolutely no idea who Leon Trotsky was, or his political importance. I probably knew where Mexico was, because I collected stamps and often used my small atlas to locate mysterious, faraway countries.
I’ve resisted Googling the death of Leon Trotsky, because I want this to be a memoir. One detail I do recall: he was stabbed to death with an ice-pick. Of course, I’d never seen such an item. It wasn’t common in tropical Africa. Ice cubes – yes, we had those. But ice-picks? No.
Neither was Communism – in the early 1950s which was when I probably read the article, mentioned in colonial Africa. Adults in my tiny world generally didn’t talk about world politics and events. Cut-off as we were from the rest of the world, our only source of news was the crackly, wavering broadcast news from the BBC in London, which tended to focus on the Home Counties plus a little international news. Most of which I ignored anyway. Assuming I could hear anything at all. The radio reception varied from poor to terrible.
I grew up in a vacuum so far as news and culture was concerned. Boarding school didn’t help much in this regard either. Sequestered as we were, and listening to our portable radios being (a) strictly controlled and (b) tuned to the Hit Parade from Lourenco Marques Radio in Portuguese East Africa*, I was a complete ignoramus. Youngsters today have an enormous exposure to global events and global culture. When I think how little I knew about anything as a young adult, it’s amazing I have survived this long, from such a scanty launch pad.
Yet here I am, in my senescence, surrounded by the digital, electronic world. It’s nothing short of astounding how much the world has changed in sixty five years in terms of communications and life-style. And you know what? I love living in the early 21st century!

  • renamed Malawi
  • renamed Mozambique




I heard a fascinating radio programme on Sunday morning which related how the Little White Butterfly migrates from the Kalahari, right across Africa, to end its journey (and its life) off the Mozambique coast, and sometimes, as far away as Madagascar.  Apart from the mind-blowing physical feat of such a tiny insect flying thousands of kilometres what is even more astonishing is that nobody has managed to work out why they do this.

As a rule, animal migrations are connected with moving to better grazing areas (the great annual migrations of antelope across the African plains) or returning to birth places to breed – think of turtles or salmon.  But: the puzzling thing about the butterfly migration is that they breed immediately upon hatching from the chrysalis stage, and having laid their eggs upon the Shepherd’s tree, (also their hatching location) they then flex their wings, and fly off to their doom, 2 000 kms later.  It’s inexplicable. Lepidopterologists are scratching their heads. I’m shaking mine in amazement.

A FaceBook page has been opened so that members of the public can post reports of time, location and other data when the butterfly swarms – do we call them swarms? flocks? clouds? *I don’t know – arrive in their neighbourhood. By collating this data, it’s hoped to learn more about  the phenomenon. If you’re interested the link is:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/WhiteButterflyMigration/?fref=ts

Thinking about butterfly migrations leads me to Barbara Kingsolver’s most recent novel Flight Behaviour, which deals with the Monarch Butterfly migrations in North America. Having seen a marvellous TV documentary on the myriad orange butterflies, and the spectacle of roosting insects  creating vast swathes of orange trees in evergreen forests, and marvelling at the phenomenon, I was dead keen to read the book. Furthermore, the blurb indicated that the migrating butterflies had a transformative effect on those who witnessed their flight over the continent, and I thought: what a wonderful theme for a novel, the healing and transformative power of nature! But alas! I abandoned the book after the first 30 or so pages – the characters were so plain awful, I just could not bear to read any more about them and their miserable lives. Yes, I lack staying power and fortitude, I bow my head in shame, but – hey, guys! Life’s too short to read dreadful books. Sorry, but there it is.

*I am enchanted to discover that there are a number of collective nouns to describe large numbers of butterflies:  rabble, flutter, swarm, kaleidoscope, rainbow or swarm of butterflies.  A rabble of butterflies? doesn’t sound right, somehow, whereas ‘A rainbow of butterflies’ is sheer poetry. Take your pick! (thank you, Google, for the info).


Filed under ECOLOGY