‘This country was so terrible’, a guy, 30, said to me.
‘In the 90’ies, 1990 people where hiding on the beach while the shooting was going on in town. People who were moving with a dhow where shot. The dhow went to the bottom of the sea. Now, we want this place to be beautiful. We want you to see how beautiful this place is. When we had the war, nobody could come. Now you can come and enjoy with us.’
I am standing in a local bar in Vilankulos on the coast in Mozambique, enjoying a cold 2M beer (one of the local brands) and watching people, young and old, dance, swing, moving and grooving, smiling, chatting…
The word took me back to a conversation in once had with my taxi driver in Bukavu, Congo DRC.
The guy, in his twenties, could not believe his ears when I answered no on his question if I had ever been hiding in the bush, fleeing for soldiers. There is the world where I grew up, without any war. And there is the other world, today, on a few hours flying of young people for whom a war, seeking cover in the bush for days, with hardly enough water, some cookies is a living reality.
And the same few hours away, there was this guy who was 18 when his war was over, trying to convince me why I should take this beer, here and now.
A few weeks ago, Dutch people celebrated Liberation Day, but I wonder as a child of the non-war generation who realises how fuckin’ lucky he or she is to grow up in a free country like the Netherlands.
I realise it myself day in day out, sometimes I forget but then I always meet people who give a reminder, most of them young and most probably ex-child soldiers, like this one. His name is Renaldo, 30 years and celebrating liberty every minute of his life.