Friday, October 07, 2005

It’s amazing how your perception of a city can change with one flash of metal. Last night I was attacked and robbed on my way out to meet a friend for a drink. I had never been “mugged” before and always wondered how I would react in such a situation. Well now I know. It happened only three blocks from my house on a street that I quite often use when I want to walk down to Julius Neyere Ave. I have always felt pretty safe walking around at night in this area and did not consider this street to be particularly risky. In fact, the street that I was on goes right past the barracas that I write so much about in my blog.

I was passing through a darker section of the street when I suddenly felt a guy come up behind me, mutter something in Portuguese and jab what felt like a screwdriver into my back. The next thing I know I’m surrounded by about 5-6 guys who had converged on me from all angles on the street. They proceeded to push me to the ground, hold a knife an inch from my face and forcibly rummage through my pockets. I initially tried to resist but, realizing my efforts were futile, eventually gave in. A large truck passed by and blew its horn loudly, scattering my attackers. They made off with my wallet but luckily I was wearing my cargo pants and they were unable to find my cell phone that I was holding in one of the side pockets.

I returned home incredibly angry, hurt and dejected about the whole situation. My honeymoon in Maputo was over and I had seen first hand this city’s criminal underbelly. I have always considered thieves, particularly violent thieves, to be some of the lowest forms of human beings. When I look at how many Mozambicans choose to work hard despite their impoverished state I have nothing but contempt for my attackers who choose crime as a means to acquire money. What’s worse is that I feel I was targeted specifically because of the colour of my skin. These guys have probably been watching me for the past month, as I walk along the same route almost every night. I want to live in this neighbourhood and I want to feel safe here. I don’t want to live in a state of perpetual fear every time I leave my house. I often scoffed at the warnings of many of the ex-pats living in Maputo, who lock themselves in gated houses and never venture out after dark. The whole time that I’ve been here I felt that their paranoia was unjustified...Maputo felt safe to me and I never had a reason to believe otherwise. This has all changed after last night. I am a very trusting person but my faith in Maputo has been shaken. I always believe in the inherent goodness of people and it hurts me when I am exposed to the darker side of human nature.

Today my heart is heavy and my spirit is low. I pray that God will help me to release the anger and the hatred I am feeling and continue to fill my heart with the love and compassion I need to live in this city. I need to remember all the wonderful Maputans I have met since arriving in Mozambique and not allow this attack to hang like a storm cloud over my head. I need to be thankful that I was not seriously hurt and that I only lost some leather, some paper and some plastic…all things that I can easily replace. Today is a new day and I will not allow this experience to drag my spirit down. Maputo is still a beautiful city full of beautiful people and I need to remember that.

15 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jared, I'm so sorry to hear about this!! I hope that you can find a way to keep this from spoiling the rest of your time there. And I also hope that replacing the pieces of plastic that you lost won't be too much of a pain.

You'll be in my thoughts as you try to sort this out in your heart. I have confidence that you'll be able to recover well. *grin*

Katie D

8:38 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Jared,

This is the first time visiting your blog and see you were involved in your own microfinancing of the locals. Quite exciting! I am glad you are able to record it. Violence is a way of life to these guys and they probably would just as soon stick you as to look at you. Maybe the color of your skin actually saved you.

Jared, I am proud of what you are doing down there. I like your reports so PLEASE be careful.You probably will have to write this microplan off.

Henry

2:12 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jared, I'm obviously very glad to hear that you're ok. I know that it's easy to feel safe walking back from Jaffa gate at 3am, stumbling through the alleys in Athens (remember the guys who 'met' us in that back alley?), riding a train on the way to Rome (I had my own run in with a 6'2' Algerian ) and now walking down the streets of Maputo. But be carefull there man, and don't lose your street smarts. There are still alot more good times to be had.

As for feeling down, a word of advice from our friend James, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trial, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience"

And there's always Romans 8:18-39

Take care,

Tyler

3:02 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so relieved that you are ok. I am so glad that you didnèt get physically harmed. You will make it through this. But I have to say, that my knee jerk reaction is to say, donèt go out after dark!!!

Thank God you are mostly ok...
Sending you love peace and safety
kj

8:53 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jared,
If I knew you were going to be walking into such danger when signing up for this internship, I would have spent many more nights worrying about you! I'm so happy you walked away in one piece...Thank the Lord.
Your blogs are fascinating...I'm a regular 'user'.
My prayers are with you!
Jolene

12:31 a.m.  
Blogger Ricki said...

Jared,

I just spent a bunch of time writing an email to you about having a measly ulcer, and it turns out I have nothing to complain about. I'm so sorry to hear what happened man. It is a very violating feeling to be robbed but you seem to have done a lot of reflecting on the whole ordeal and your attitude is the best one to have: a few jerks can't ruin your experience. Maputo is your home and 99% of the people you meet are the ones that will make your experience so great.

I've been thinking alot about the "robbery with violence" that is spreading throughout so many African cities. Stealing out of desperation and poverty is one thing, but where does this violent uglyness come from? Their hate is their hate, don't let it become your's as well. Easier said than done right? Stay cool.

12:55 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jared,

So sorry that this happened to you! I truly pray that you are able to get past this emotionally and spiritually ... it sounds like you are on your way. Trust God - he will protect you and bless you 100th fold - you are His child! As well I am very thankful you were not physically harmed.

Though I don't get to your blog often I do enjoy what you've shared when I do read it. Keep it up and enjoy your experience.

Tracy

11:14 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jared,
Glad to hear you are safe. Plastic is replaceable, life is not.
Be careful,
Mar

11:13 a.m.  
Blogger Sean said...

Jared,

It's too bad that you experienced that, but knowing you the experience will help you in your job there. After the initial anger settles down, you may start to question not "why did this happen to me?" but rather "what led this to happen?" Then you may appreciate the plight of the Maputan people a little more.

It is partly because of our actions (as Western whites) that their economy is so down-trodden that they would resort to thievery. It is partly because of the inaction on our government's part for so many years that the HIV/AIDS crisis is so massive, we could have helped earlier, but we didn't - and we can still help more... but don't. I know you'll come to understand that they weren't attacking you, and only attacking what your people have done. This doesn't make it right buddy, but if there's a positive message you can take out of this - is that it helps you understand just a little more what is happening there.

I've always known you to look at the good in people and situations. This will help more than hurt buddy... but it's up to you to accept that.

12:05 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wouldn't you just know it!?? I check out your blog for the first time ever, and you just had to have a seriously scary thing happen to you?? You're alive and all who love and care for you are grateful and breathing a sigh of relief... Remember that being careful isn't the same as being paranoid?? Take care of yourself Jared.

- trace (LeClair)

3:16 p.m.  
Blogger joel said...

Hey Jared,
Glad to hear you walked away from that one! Paper and plastic are replaceable indeed! I partly agree with Sean, in that you will certainly turn to question "what led this to happen?" Though you personally have no part in the circumstances of those who robbed you, you certainly have benefitted from the overall system. I don't want this to tarnish your view of humanity, though. That dark underbelly was always there, and now you have a more realistic view of how the society and economy really works. If anything I'd challenge you to have compassion for those who robbed you. Think of the desperation that led them to steal. Try to understand them without judging their motives. The desperation these people show in resorting to robbery is telling indeed.
Hope everything else is going well. here's some traveller advice: keep a moderate sum of money easily accessable (and steal-able), and have your important documents hidden somewhere else on your person. that way you're not replacing your credit card, or passport, or whatever, if and when you get robbed again.
be well. Peace and happiness,
-joel

9:52 p.m.  
Blogger St Louis Cardinals BUFF said...

So many blogs and only 10 numbers to rate them. I'll have to give you a 9 because you have a quailty topic.

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9:58 p.m.  
Blogger Kristin said...

Hey Jared
I'm so sorry to hear about what happened. I can completely relate to what you're saying - I was robbed last week as well. The situation was a little bit different, but there is speculation that someone I know and trusted may have been involved. My "honeymoon" with Tanzania is also over. It completely sucks...I hope you're doing ok.
Kristin

12:08 a.m.  
Blogger Kristin said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:10 a.m.  
Blogger anonymoose said...

Jare, I'm glad to hear that you're all right. remember that there are desperate and violent people everywhere and the only way to truly change that is to have more people like you in the world. don't give up but please get home safe. i miss you.
John

3:32 p.m.  

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