“Invincible”, oil on canvas, 25 cm X 35 cm
Last night I dreamt with the sound the casuarina trees make when sea breezes blew from the sea at night. This sound was like whispers and sighs all through the night. When I stopped hearing it, early daylight was pouring through the windows.
I was born and grew up in Mozambique, when it was a colony of Portugal. I was born in the north, in Nametil, and we were the only white family in the area. My father helped my mother to give birth, alone in the middle of the bush. I had a 3 year old sister called Carminha. My mother had problems nursing me so my parents asked Luisa, another young mother who had also just given birth, to nurse me. Many years later I painted Luisa as I remember her, lovely smile in her dark smooth face. My baby cot was a wood box with four tall feet, each foot inside a large olive oil can filled with water, so the ants did not get to me attracted by my sweet milk smells. My parents told me that once while they slept, an ant battalion, shaped like a snake made of millions of dark dots, passed through my room and “vacuumed” everything including the talcum powder and the cream. I was saved by four large olive oil cans filled with water…
My parents moved around a lot in the north of Mozambique, after Nametil we went to Nampula, then Nacala, then Mozambique Island, then further south to Inhambane. When I was 6 they moved to the capital, Lourenco Marques, and they settled there.
A skinny kid growing up in Lourenco Marques I had all the space, the freedom, the happiness. I had springs inside me, climbing trees, bicycling, spinning cartwheels on the sand. Everything seemed possible. Africa, its wilderness, the laughter of the people, the huge sky, the mysterious blue line on the horizon, the heavy rains in the afternoon, the warm smell of earth.
“Africa Outside”, oil on canvas, 105 cm X 115 cm