Kungokhala

For two years I worked as a volunteer in the North of Mozambique at a Catholic Mission, for a Non-Governmental Organization called “Leigos para o Desenvolvimento”.

Although it was not the purpose of my trip, I was fortunate to be able to photograph the life of the villages surrounding the Mission.

Following my return, looking through those photographs, I felt I could not keep them to myself. This is how this book came into existence.

I needed a title… But what seemed to be simple and obvious was not so easy after all. What touched me the most? The numerous experiences encountered, many yet to be assimilated? The people I met, with whom great friendships were born? Or nature, which I now understand why we call Mother?

How could I find a word to comprise all the things I could not express about these images?

Toddlers and older children living freely around us, always wearing genuine smiles, fragile and often left unprotected by their families; hard work on the land always depending on providence; the roads wearing their way through the villages, crossing the country and the fields; life elevated in such a special way in religious ceremonies; the mysterious joy that arose from the music and its rhythm…

All this I keep in my heart, in images and hardly any words.

One day, during school holidays, I was relaxing in the small garden of the Mission. Students had gone home to help their families work in the fields. At that moment, I spotted Luciano, the student with whom I chatted the most, approaching. He was very formally dressed – jacket, tie and all – and carrying on his back a sack of potatoes. He had just walked for three hours to come visit me and offer me his gift.

I asked him the reason of his journey and he answered: “Aphunzitsi!… kungokhala!” – “Teacher!… Just staying!”

It was in Mozambique that I learned “just staying” enjoying time.

Filipe Condado
Lisbon, June 2004

Luciano