Tete is reputed to be the hottest town in Mozambique, and there’s certainly some justification for that. 40˚C+ may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but slowing down one’s walking pace, sweating a great deal and drinking huge quantities of water are all helpful ways of adapting! In the rural areas of Tete province many villages have no running water or electricity despite the proximity of the largest dam in Africa (Cahora Bassa) which has created the continent’s fourth-largest artificial lake.
An abiding memory will be the geologist standing out in the midday sun in his sunglasses, hardhat and overalls as a huge drill bored down into the baking earth behind him. “We put the coal in the fridge” he said and we frowned thinking that with all the background noise from the drill we must have misunderstood. But no, apparently when samples are taken to determine the particular composition of the coal in a certain area, they will deteriorate if exposed to high temperatures and so must be refrigerated as soon as possible, before being sent to Australia for analysis!
As we stood at the drilling site with the sun beating down, a man cycled along the dirt road carrying a heavy load of firewood - it was difficult to imagine how people can scratch a living in this harsh, dry climate but somehow they manage.
For those of us who dwell in more temperate zones, it’s easy to suppose that this kind of heat is no one’s favourite kind of weather, but didn’t someone say that it’s dangerous to make assumptions? In fact, the acting Director of SOS Children’s Village Tete said that he would much rather live in a hot place than somewhere cold, like Europe, “You get all sorts of illnesses with cold weather”, and on my return to an office full of people coughing and sneezing as autumn started to merge into winter, I had to admit that he had a point.
Natasha and other members of the SOS UK team travelled to Africa to gather photos, video footage and valuable experiences for the Our Africa website.
Our Africa is a unique and pioneering project designed to show UK schoolchildren what it's really like to grow up in Africa. Famine, disease and poverty are a harsh reality for some – but they are not the whole picture.