The Solution

Sometimes it’s easy to slip into the bad habit of generalizing and lumping together the entire population of Mozambique as a single “they”. Ei: “They just don’t get the concept of monogamy.”  Extremes and perspectives differ but that is not a complete truth here or anywhere.

Then again, there are certain generalizations that I find are pretty much always true. Stereotypes come from somewhere, don’t they?

Anyway, last week I went down to Maputo for a national arts fair. The whole experience was great and it was satisfying to see how far our products have come in terms of quality, quantity and sales, not to mention how well our two weavers did doing all the transactions and interacting with the buyers.

That being said, I am pretty sure I have discovered the root of all Mozambican underdevelopment (are you ready for the big general “they” commentary…). Their problem is disorganization. Yes, that is it. Pure simple messiness.

I came to this conclusion when after spending several hours setting up the display and organizing our back stock, I looked under the table and our baskets were all over the place.

The vision of this heap of products all tumbled together with trash, chip bags, baby clothes, purses, pens, and who knows what else instantly made me fume with a feeling close to rage. WHAT. IS. THIS!?!?!

So I gathered my wits, took a deep breath and set about cleaning up. Circle patterns with circles, checkers with checkers, etc. If they don’t stack, sort them by general size. Right? When people wanted to see more of a certain size or design, then all they had to do was quickly pull out the appropriate goods.

The next day I walked up to our booth and looked under the table… and it was all mixed together. BAHHHHH!!! – what was I going to do!?

I took a deep breath and explained to my counterpart and weavers that I had spent a long time the day before sorting so that we could find “the one basket” they always wanted to sell. Of course they had even witnessed me sorting and stacking the day before, but when I mentioned that I wanted them keep it clean Sonia said, “Oh I hadn’t noticed.

I am not the most OCD person when it comes to keeping organized. I tend to stack and get lost in the mix of to-do lists, files, and random “stuff” that doesn’t seem to have a proper home. However, I stick to my theory – if everyone here in Mozambique was a bit more attentive to being tidy and less oblivious to their personal mess – then I think the world would be a better place.


1 Comment

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One response to “The Solution

  1. Daniel Frysh

    Camille, I feel your pain. At my counseling internship I sit with patients everyday and see the mess that they are creating out of their lives. What I am really witnessing is an external expression of the internal mess that persists for them. Yes, I too get frustrated every once in a while, but recall that as the internal messiness and understanding gets put into perspective and organized so too will their external world follow suit. Of course I am not commenting on their cultural outlook on how the people of Mozambique tend to organize or their concept of grouping things and perhaps their is a general concept that can be looked at and worked with in this regard but on the other hand it could also be a general felt experience of internal frustration felt by an entire people that leads to external chaos and thus messy baskets under the table. Just an early morning thought. Have fun putting the baskets into piles. Oh an idea. Perhaps too much order doesn’t work but would it make more sense to the culture if the baskets were in an artistic pattern? K I’m gonna go now. There are too many early morning thoughts rambling through my brain. Cheers,


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