Namaacha has a large market area on Saturdays and Wednesday, so this morning Anna and I walked in to get some produce. As we were weaving between the stands we heard a woman talking about us say “mulungu” (the somewhat derogatory word for white people here). Anna turned to her and said “I have a name and it’s not mulungu!” Then, in Changana (the local language here and also where Anna lived the past two years. Sadly it was not the local language where I lived the past two years) Anna told her that she speaks a little Changana. All of the women within earshot squealed with delight and erupted in Changana about what Anna had said. We stopped to buy carrots and green peppers a few stalls away, so they got to talk about us for a few more minutes. As the woman handed us her change she said “tell her your name so she doesn’t call you mulungu next time.” We introduced ourselves and all we heard as we walked away was “Ana” and “Anata.”
Last week Anna and I were sitting inside our house listening to the kids torment our dog, as they often do. Finally he came inside growling and whimpering to himself and pacing back and forth, and we were happy he was able to show such self-control. Then something rolled across our floor. And then another thing. The little idiots were throwing rocks at/in our house. I threw on shorts of an appropriate length and stormed outside. As soon as I was outside our gate I yelled “who was that throwing rocks at my house?!” I was told it was some girls who had perched themselves in the window of the half-constructed house next to ours. “Where do they live?” I demanded. The neighbors instructed an adolescent girl to take me to their houses, so we set off into the neighborhood behind me house, me with the rocks in hand. At one point along the walk I saw them hiding in a neighbor’s garden, they took off when they saw me storming toward them. When I got to their house I encountered only a teenage boy and was told that the parents were at work. I stayed there for a few minutes and meanwhile the mother showed up. I showed her the rock and told her that her daughters had been throwing rocks at my house, which was not only extremely rude and terrible, but also dangerous and she needed to teach her daughters that this wasn’t okay. She said she would, but I couldn’t read her very well. In my experience, with parents in Mozambique you often get two extremes in situations like this—either the parents go all vigilante and kick the crap out of the kids, or they couldn’t care less. As I walked home a neighbor asked me what had happened. I explained that the girls who lived in that house had thrown rocks at my house. “Oh that’s terrible!” he said. I returned the following day and spoke to the father and then on the walk home informed a few more neighbors about how terrible the girls who live in that house are. I am hoping that even if the parents don’t care, the sense of public shame will encourage them to do something.
Our bathroom area is two cement rooms without doors, but configured such that you can’t see directly in. There is a roof that is not attached directly to the walls, but sits a few feet above them.
The next day I was bathing when I saw four fingers curl over the top of the wall. I didn’t completely process what they were until I saw the corn rows on top of a head begin to appear next to them. “SUCA!” I yelled. This is a word that means scram and is generally reserved only for dogs—or people you intend to offend. She did scram immediately and I called for Anna who was in the house. Anna looked over the wall but the girl was long gone or hiding. We have had no such incidences since. In this situation I am hesitant to go talk to the neighbors behind us, the property from where this girl had perched. Because I’m not too keen on reminding (or informing) people that it’s possible to peek at us while we bathe.