My brother died.
He died because he grew up in a rural area where there were no schools, therefore he did not study. And because he did not study, when the local administrator appeared with some gentlemen who offered him money and a job in exchange for his land, he believed their word and signed some papers unaware of what he was doing. When he realized he was conned, he complained but no one helped him out.
He died because when the miserable six-month contract and the money they paid him ran out, he had to go live in the city to escape starvation. He ended up starving in the city.
He died because he could not afford the minibus taxis and, in the city, there are not enough buses, so on his way to work he jumped on the back of a truck full of people that rolled over in a tight turn because it was too full. The tire blew up. The accident happened shortly after the truck was stopped by the police to pay their “toll”.
He died because the only running ambulance in the district was on its way to another place, so they took too long to get him to the nearest health centre.
He died because in the health centre they did not have the means to save his life.
I wish I could invite the heads of our government to the funeral. It seems fitting to me that one of them should bang the last nail in my brother’s coffin, since, directly or indirectly, it was them who hammered all the others.
In most Mozambican schools, there are not enough tables, chairs, manuals, notebooks, pencils, pens and even teachers. There are schools without a roof, schools without windows and even schools without walls.
In most hospitals and health centres in Mozambique, a lot is needed and lacking. For example, Maputo’s Hospital Central, due to lack of equipment, refers critically ill patients to private hospitals that very few can afford, thus condemning those who cannot to their fate.
On Mozambique’s modest roads, twice a day, millions of men, women, and children commute in crammed up minibuses or in the back of trucks that do not even meet the minimum safety requirements to transport cattle.
Mozambique lacks A LOT of basic stuff.
However, the selfish do not mind. They do not hide. They could not care less. They have no shame.
Shamelessly, they use the public treasury to lead palatial lives, totally out of step with our humble reality, robbing the people of their right to live with a minimum of dignity.
And as if that was not enough, without any decorum, – as if asking: “What are you going to do about it?”– they rub their shameless opulence in the face of the insulted. In the face of parents whose children study sitting on the floor. In the face of the elderly who have to endure standing for hours, crammed in the back of crowded trucks, in the rain or in the blazing sun. In the face of the helpless mothers, whose children die everyday in the corridors of our hospitals.
Regrettably, in a country that is growing increasingly devoid of values and examples, it is only natural that the deplorable behavior of the selfish can easily find fertile soil in the most manured heads. Their dishonesty and the example of impunity that they set, has repercussions at all levels of our society. From top to bottom, their totally unethical and immoral posture, – which they ironically call “wise and didactic leadership” – spreads like a social plague and becomes a code of conduct. “Every man for himself and screw the rest” is the rule. Everything else is bogus. Social justice is a mirage.
And it’s mostly our fault. Not only because of what we let the selfish do, but also because of what we allow them not to.
We are so used to not relying on the State, that we bypass it. We ignore it. We replace it taking on its obligations. Those who can, in addition to their taxes, pay for security, for sanitation, for health, for energy, for education. The State says thank you and leans on us. Hangs on to us. Washes its hands of the responsibility and buys another Mercedes.
And once again, it is those who have no one and nowhere to turn to who get screwed. The rest continues to live quietly in their bubble. Until the day the bubble bursts…