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Bull Fighter

Praca de Touros

by pop skiet / 09.10.2012

With dedicated intent I asked around where Maputo’s old bullring was, nobody knew. Eventually I was directed to the Shopright Checkers, on the East side of the city. The ring stood unceremoniously, forgotten, across the street, surrounded by an array of rackety fruit and veg stalls and make-shift car garages. As I approached the main gate, small hands around a rusty lock and big brown eyes peering, greeted me.

I was told entry was forbidden and under no circumstances was I allowed in. After a negotiation of 50 Mets the metal gate creaked open. A bunch of suspicious kids led me inside, the stench of urine and faeces was overwhelming. After some adjustment and cross-questioning I was told they were homeless kids who had squatted the premises. This was their home. I reach for my camera, the boys jump, hostile words fly out of young mouths. For a moment it felt like I was re-imagining our school textbook William Golding’s Lord of the Flies.

I followed the troop into an unimpressive, ageing arena. It was marked by the typical tropical decay and faded history; fragments of former glory barely visible. The arena was being used as a home, soccer and bicycle track. From the top seating area the tip of Maputo’s skyline was a charcoal smear set in a haze of pollution. After a quick look around, I was told my time is up, this was an invasion of their privacy. As I handed over the 50 Mets, I wondered about these boys future, they all need square meals, education and some adult supervision. Living in an abandoned, decaying bullring is no place for children to grow up.

I am escorted out hastily, back through the stinky foyer. Another, bigger boy tells me to hand over more cash, 50 is not enough. The additional 30 Mets I offer is rejected. The boy screams at me loudly. He follows me to the car with a few of his friends in tow. As I get into gear he jumps onto my bonnet, he waves a protruding middle finger in my direction with the intention of pulling off my windscreen wipers, all while yelling a string of abusive epithets in both Portuguese and Tsonga. Any bit of motherly compassion I once had for the homeless kids of the bullring is replaced with rage and a desperate urge to get the fuck out of there. I step it up and he hops off with a misdirected kick towards my door. I drive through the grease, grime, potholes and banana peels happy to see the end of that.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    it seems like this was done for spectacle sake rather than for any genuine engagement and i really don’t blame the locals for responding the way that they did. besides that, this article is just a really kak piece of story telling, with no context, and no purpose.

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  2. Hank says:

    It started out really strong, good lede, but it petered out hard and fast. Where is the context? The why, when and for what ultimate purpose is completely missing…
    I must agree, in the end there is really little point to this, other than making we wonder about the authors intentions.

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  3. Centaur says:

    Agree with Hank. Writer loses me when it all becomes about how brave he is facing down 6 years olds surrounded by rubbish. Sounds like he would be happier back in the wine bar in camps b.
    The edifice is about to be demolished and replaced with a shiny new hotel mall and car park which is a shame as could easily be transformed into a sports complex that the city badly needs.
    Has a pretty ghastly history as when imported bulls became unavailable during the independence revolution the Porras used prisoners to fight to the death and bet on it as the Romans did 2000 years ago. Natch it is supposed to be haunted.
    Was a beautiful female artist did an installation of it a few years ago – forgotten her name does things with Nguni hide usually.
    Shame the author didn’t manage to discover any of this and we thus endure his fearless protection of his windscreens wiper. Is that some kind of postmodern ct thing? Am I being doff?
    Good weekends all

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  4. popskiet says:

    Well written Centaur, a photographer like me could really do with some writing skills, alas some of us visual poets are totally dyslexic.

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  5. creepy steve says:

    this is dope, didn’t even bother reading the comments

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  6. Gareth says:

    Popskiet these are fantastic, thanks for capturing an Africa in fast forward, before long these too will be gone and all that will remain are the photographs. Excellent work. And yous no dyslexic.

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