Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Held for Ransom. . .Tire changing 101


The last thing I ever imagined getting involved in here was a ransom situation, but our first week here has been anything but normal. Now before you panic, none of us were held for ransom. Instead it was David’s cell phone. Yes, that’s right. His cell phone.

We’d gone out briefly to buy electricity for our meter and on return David realized that he didn’t have his cell phone. It didn’t take long, though, for us to find out what had happened. He had dropped it outside our gate where some children found it and had started playing with it. Before long, the entire neighborhood was arguing over who should sell it in the market, or demand ransom money. When they found out whose house the phone had come from, the ransom money apparently became the choice.

Two men came to David and told him that he could have the phone for two hundred medicash (eight dollars). He came back to ask me what he should do. With Scott still in Maputo waiting for the papers, it was, it seemed up to me to decided if I should give into the demands (and set a precedent in my mind) or refuse.

Before I could decide, I was told that the police was now involved and wanted to talk to me. David had already paid one hundred medicash, but they wanted me to prove that it was indeed David’s phone. Fair enough, I thought. All it should take was a simple phone call from my phone to his to prove it.

Of course, even after I’d proved without any doubts that it was indeed David’s, the police still wasn’t finished. He wanted me to compensate him with transport, though to where I never understood. I decided to refuse. The phone was clearly David’s and I wasn’t paying any more to get it back.

It was definitely an interesting welcome to our new neighborhood.


We’ve had two--yes two--flat tires in the past week. Thankfully Scott was driving the first time and not me. In my driver’s ed class years ago, it rained the day we were supposed to learn to change a tire, cancelling the class, so Scott decided that it was time I learned. Thus How to Change a Tire 101.

It’s a good thing really. After seven years of living in Africa, it’s about time I learned how. We had a second flat tire in our front yard yesterday.


We filed all the papers on Monday. The only they missing now is a police report from the states, but they said they will go ahead and begin processing our papers, and that they will be done next Tuesday! More on that process next tim.




  1. There is a cultural aspect involved in this article. "Marholisa", a term that describes the whole "ransom" issue, is a long held tradition throughout southern Africa. According to our tradition and customs, one is expected to give "marholisa" to whoever may have found one's lost item. Marholisa are never charged, but they are expected; they can be given in any form (money, goods, etc.); and it is up to the owner to decide how much and what kind of marholisa he/she should give.

  2. Great cultural insight, Juliao. Thanks for sharing!