Our friend, Henry, whom we met in Inhaminga, was a slightly built Portuguese of about thirty, who spoke English, as well as some of the local languages. Actually, his name was Henrique, but if I ever knew his surname, I can’t remember it, which is a shame as I would like to pay a proper tribute to this kind, friendly and, ultimately, hugely courageous, man. Should anyone who ever knew him reads this, I would be grateful to hear more.
Mozambique was his country, and his passion. He knew the northern regions particularly well, and spoke the languages. After Frelimo took power, in 1975 and the friction with Renamo worsened, Henry went into the bush to talk to the Renamo leaders, and was never seen again.
When I resigned from Loxton, Venn & Associates, effective end of June 1974, I could not leave Mozambique without another visit to Ibo. We arranged to meet Henry in Porto Amelia and go there together. A friend of his was the Chief Customs Officer, who would accommodate us.
After the substantial town of Nampula, and before we turned off north to cross the Rio Lurio, we called in to look at a beautiful church. It was the base for a priest and several nuns, who made us welcome and insisted that we join them for a meal. They were especially taken with Nicci.
Naturally, in Porto Amelia, Henry knew a pilot at whose home we could leave my Landy, who not only put us up for the night, but flew us to Ibo where the Customs Chief collected us and welcomed us into his home. As I have said, there was no accommodation for visitors on Ibo, and this was luxury, compared with sleeping on grain bags in the loft over the fridges in the fish factory, as I had the previous year.
Unfortunately, Henry was bitten on the hand by the Customs Officer’s dog, ignoring warnings not to pet the animal, so did not join us when I hired a boat to go skin diving. To my stunned surprise, the boat driver started singing “Yabba dabba, dab dab,” to me! It was our driver from the previous visit who had remembered our version of If I were a Rich Man from Fiddler on the Roof.
It would be twenty years before I returned to Ibo, together with Nicci, then an adult herself! It had hardly changed, except for crime, but that’s another story.