Mozambique, Southern Circle

Following a Military Convoy Through Conflicted Area in Mozambique

On our first day in Mozambique we had already spent 15 hours driving to get to our camp in Chimoio, and on the next day we were all relieved that there was only going to be a short drive over to our next destination, Vilanculos. But travels will always be travels and unforeseen things happened like they always do.

After just an hour drive east from Chimoio we turned south into the road EN1, and after just a short while we had to stop because of the many still standing trucks that were in the way. It took quite a while to figure out what was happening. The locals were only eager to sell us oranges and cashew nuts, and none of them had sufficient English skills to be able to explain to us the situation we were stuck in. Since none of the other trucks moved we were also forced to stand still on the road for the many following hours without knowing anything about what was happening on the road ahead of us.

After almost 6 hours there was finally movement around the truck, when over fifty armed soldiers were arriving in jeeps and on the roofs and cargo parts of the trucks in front of us. Our guide was quick to wave away the soldiers looking at our truck, as none of us wanted to have a man with a bazooka or machinegun on our truck, as we then would have been a target should a shooting have taken place. After almost another whole hour the we were in the middle of a military convoy with full speed towards Vilanculos. This was not a very organized convoy, as everyone kept overtaking each other all the time, except for the military vehicles in the front. After about two hours of driving we reached a bridge where a platoon was stationed, and we understood that the danger was over and we would be free to drive on our own to the coastal area of Mozambique. Luckily we witnessed no shooting, but saw quite a few burned out trucks along the way showing that it had not always been as quiet as the time when we passed that area.

When we reached our camp in Vilanculos we had locals asking us how it was further up north as they all had seen clips on the news that evening showing battles between the two political parties FRELIMO and RENAMO. Just a couple of days before there had been a bus of civillians that was Hijacked by the RENAMO (see Fox News) and two civillians had been killed. A truck full of foreign tourist would probably have been a good target in order to get attention from the international press, but luckily we witnessed no battles, and got away from the place with just another story to tell.