Such is the mystery that abounds on Mozambique Island. Its history is well-known, its spot in the pantheon of Important Places assured. For such a small place it occupies an enormous corner within the murky infinitudes of the slave trade. It feels slightly removed from the mainland as though by choice, to allow the rest of the country to exist without it. The disquieting impression is that of a forced separation, unbound and unbidden by either party.
The traveler, who, it seems, is starting to take on the role of celestial observer, watches from a distance. This is the way they feel most comfortable. Their position is that of the outsider, a visitor from another realm of understanding; the physical shapes are broadly the same, but the history of the traveler is incompatible and unknowable with that of the islanders. There is no dissent, no aggression, no trouble; merely a lack of understanding.
Come midnight, the island has become still. To its south, closest to the connecting bridge, is where the faintest murmurs emanate. This is where the majority of people live, the bearing of their homes below the meridian of the island’s main arterial path. In the north dwells the history, the fort brooding in the shadows, the lapping of the waves near the shells of the former colonial buildings, home now only to graffiti and the reclamation growths of nature.
The somnambulant yellow lighting, playing off the pitch black of the sky, reflects on the architecture within its reach; the effect is dimly skeletal, as though the island is only beginning to realise it exists somewhere within antiquity.
Soon enough, the traveler completes their circuit; behind them in the pristine church, its gigantic form swallowed and reconditioned as a sinister silhouette by the encroaching blackness. Beyond that are the square and its attendant pier, where slumberers seeks places to rest and find shelter.
But it is to the figure to whom the traveler’s gaze is drawn. Around them is nothing and yet the figure sits, still, unaware, content. It’s as though they are guarding something; the door behind them emanates a powerful, luminous light, dimly numinous but ultimately extinguished by the night’s unending advance. At its core is a shining light; this is what the man watches over, as still and as dignified as an ancient statue. The traveler moves on; this is not their story to tell.