Recently we visited a city in Mozambique called Inhambane. The city was discovered in 1498 by a Portuguese man, Vasco De Gama. He named the city Tara de Boa Jenta, land of the gentle people. Later, it was a port used for trading by the Portuguese; however, when the Portuguese found the locals were also trading with the Dutch, the locals were massacred. In addition during the 17th and 18th century it was the first city in Mozambique to begin selling enslaved people. The following is a short piece I wrote during Travel Journalism when asked to write from Gama's perspective in modern day. We did this piece following a historical walking tour while sitting in a central garden on a quiet Sunday afternoon.
As I return I am troubled by what I see. I see a town and a culture of people who's gentleness, on the surface, seems to have disappeared. However, these people are not to blame, my Portuguese descendants diluted their innocence with acts of force and violence. I am ashamed, I paved the way to masking the gentle hearts of the locals who first greeted me with kindness enthusiasm. Yet, I believe if we look past the Portuguese masks of western buildings, streets, and values and clean off the blood and scars, we will find the good, gentle people I once knew are waiting to be rediscovered.
Alex, Junior, Montana, soon to be Oregon