After some very intense and close observation in all the countries we have traveled to, we discovered a much more widespread, maybe even a transversal ethnic, with some similarities in all countries. Nevertheless, there seem to be certain differences specific to each country. The major similarity of this people is the evidence that they have a kind of institution supporting them, mainly with cloths, sometimes even with cars or motorbikes. Another similarity is the fact that despite this support they have to earn their income from the streets. In difference to other slightly similar professions they do not seem to offer any specific service to earn their money. Rather they link some principals of their supporting structure with all kind of different behaviour by anybody using a road. After analysing those very serious differences and defining them as offenses something very specific to this ethic group starts: the interesting ritual of these guys of finding the right prize for the specific offense. As there are many offenses and they are ever changing this is not an easy task. First you are told what went wrong and how serious it is. Here the differences in the different countries start.
In Mozambique you’re told that you drove 80 km/h, but you’re not allowed to exceed 60. Of course you prove that your speedo is a little slow, so it may very well have shown 59.99 km/h while you were in reality driving 79.05. And now the ever same ritual so much loved by this ethnic group starts: Putting on the sunglasses, arranging the white shirt over the big belly, asking for the driving license of the poor delinquent and asking him to leave the car and following him to a place behind the shelter. As you do not speak any Portuguese, every thing is written on a filthy piece of paper – probably for legal prosecution – just in case the ritual does not end up in the usual way. You find an immense sum on this paper – a figure followed by many zeros. You tell the nice guy that you would prefer to settle the issue in the next support structure of this ethnic group. He is shocked. How can you react in this way, it was just a proposal. You tell him what you’re ready to spend something to save his poor life – some 5 to 10% of the initial amount. After some more nice exchanges, the 2 parties come to a friendly solution; you leave happily, knowing you ensured the survival of a deprived guy for another day – until the next delinquent arrives.
In Malawi the same ethnicity reacts differently: Show me driving license. Thank you. Show me insurance. Thank you. Show me grand mother’s birth certificate. You don’t have, this is an offense. And you were driving 1km too fast. Please come out, settle your bill. 5000 Kwacha – imagine to pay 5000 Kwacha you need a total of 10 of the biggest available banknotes – an equivalent of USD 7. You politely explain that you do not have that amount of money and show him one of these 500 Kwacha notes. This guy grasps it immediately and even he thanks for it. You really feel good, you did some good, you contributed significantly to another guys survival.
Other countries, other reactions: In Lesotho and in Namibia they simply do not ask you for anything – probably the locals are rich enough to support these poor guys.