It’s called ‘Colombia’, but it’s in Mozambique: an open air gold mine with a name smacking of violence and lawlessness. To get there one crosses two different worlds: the capital, Maputo, one of Africa’s economic miracles, and a rural society where time has stood still.
Anyone who had visited Maputo a few years ago would have a hard time recognising the city as it stands now: beginning with the airport, a modern glass, steel and concrete structure built by the Chinese who have also built most of the skyscrapers in town, along with the stadium and numerous shopping centres. But getting to the Zambesia region involves heading down a dirt track that leaves the provincial capital of Quelimane, one of the country’s main ports, and heading north-east, inland. The rough road runs through a rural landscape where modern technology seems to have had no impact whatsoever: huts with mud walls and straw roofs look out onto neatly swept yards with mango and cashew trees populated by families comprised of a few adults and many many children.