Maputo was tough – No song, but a story


The project was financed by The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan go AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)

Before sun rise, Positivo left Chokwé to travel to Maputo and the second workshop of the tour.  It was dark and the rain was heavy, but spirits were high, especially the President’s who is also the workshop leader Helio.  He was like a bouncing ball ricocheting around the tightly packed car.  We arrived at the (supposedly haunted) Quisse Mavota School before the bell, to introduce ourselves with the Director and the Head of Pedagogy, as programmed.

We set up for the first interactive musical seminar on the basketball courts in the centre of the school.  The impetus of these seminars are to generate a buzz about Positivo and what we are about to bring to the students.  The first song ripped out, Helio was rapping and the two guitars were twanging, there was a ring of excited students dancing around us.  Phizzz! Power Cut!  Not a problem, jump into acoustic mode, keep the energy flowing.  The Jembei drum pounded out, Roland thrashed the steel string louder, Helio ran into the crowd.  But the momentum waned, we were drowned out in our own furore.  The students fizzled out like the power.
Later that day we met the HIV and AIDS councillor for the school who was to give us the groups for the music and the mural.  We sat with the music group and asked them what music they like and what issues about HIV they’re not sure about.  Unfortunately there was little enthusiasm and it became a very difficult session, the students all had to be in other places and said they were missing class.  We had stated that we’d like a dedicated group so this was a confusion.

The mural group were having a bit more luck and had managed to secure a wall in the middle of the school to paint with the students.  They had also found a driver who was willing for his chapa (public transport mini bus) to be painted too.
At the end of the day, tired but not defeated, we all departed to our separate accommodation.  This was logistically difficult as Maputo is big and there is always slow traffic, culminating in a one and half journey.
Tuesday morning Positivo had a workshop in the city centre with the Peace Corps.  This was a marketing effort to demonstrate our methodology to them.  The ultimate goal was to create links with each Peace Corp volunteer and to set up workshops in their villages.  The morning was a roaring success, a full music video was recorded within the 4 hour session and lots of volunteers said they would love for us to do workshops in their communities.

Back at the school it was a complete reversal from the morning with the Peace Corps.  Enthusiasm was still weak. The questionnaires were handed out to 3 different classes.  Helio was involved in lots of meetings as the school was unsure whether, what Positivo were doing, fitted into cultural activities or educational ones.  This would mean more governmental permissions would have to be sought.
Without power on the third day we decided that we would find a generator, to enable us to record and perform.  On foot the intrepid team went exploring into the sandy biros of Zimpeto and managed to find a local gentleman willing to let us use his generator for the price of a full tank of diesel.  “From now on things will change!” we thought.  As we were setting up for the second interactive musical seminar, the power came back. “Even better!”  But the students did not.  After we found out that the school had decided to change the break time to later on that day.  It was just not working.  That was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  After a lengthy team meeting it was decided that we would bow out.  We did not want to produce a video that had no heart in it, no Positivo spirit in it.  We wrote a formal letter of apology and sat with the school director to explain our decisions.
A combination of factors had lead the unsuccessful outcome of the Maputo workshop.  The capital is different environment in which to work and when problems occur, they come with the weight of a metropolis.  We will grow from this and we will learn and we will become more positive.