Machaze is one of the poorest regions in central Mozambique and that makes this transport hub one of the most important points for those who live here.
Many men often leave from Makaze in search of El Dorado in the mines and agri-fields of South Africa, Africa’s most industrialized economies.
The women stay. Waiting for what their husbands bring them once or twice a year. Be it nice clothes, bicycles or drums so they can collect one of the scarcest goods in Machaze.
“A lot of people from Machaze work in South Africa but without passports. They go to South Africa because these many bicycles that we are seeing here come from South Africa and the jerry cans also to carry water..” Silva Naissone, President of the Transports Association explains.
The men leave in search of a better life. They face South African xenophobia against foreigners. Some flee never to return, others nurture their dreams, for example Santos João .
“With jobs that I do here in Mozambique I can have an income, but it wouldn’t be the same. The income I hope to have in South Africa … as those who come from there say, those who have worked with electricity, at some point it comes out more advantageous because the jobs there are more promising.” says João.
Still single, Fatima Machava, only admits to emigrating if her future husband takes her. “I don’t have dreams of travelling and going to South Africa” she says. “Only maybe if someone comes along. In case someone comes along who wants to marry me. Then I can go to South Africa, yes”.
The Machaze regional government understands the ambitions of the local youth, but is trying to convince them to stay and help the local economy. Joana Guinda is Machaze’s District Administrator. Guinda wants residents to take up a government, I would really like to appeal to all young residents in our Machaze district to embrace entrepreneurship.
“As a government, I would really like to appeal to all young residents in our Machaze district to embrace entrepreneurship. Especially agribusiness and agriculture. We are potential now for sesame production. In the past campaign many made gains from this production. We also produce cashew nuts. Why are the young people not embracing this? Why do we have too much is arable land and so I really advise the youth not to do that (go to South Africa). It is better that they develop their country.”
The government’s arguments do not seem to alter the trend and in the region housing continues to increase in a community where polygamy is accepted. Migrants’ houses in South Africa are growing in Machaze as the number of wives increases and this is also one of the attractions pulling young people from Machaze to South Africa.