Tag: “Growing in Darkness”

Mario Macilau, a Former “Street Child” in Mozambique, Becomes Top Photographer Through Exhibitions on Isolated Groups

As a boy, I dreamed of becoming a journalist. But then I got caught up with day-to-day troubles. When your life is full of worry it is like the future does not exist.

When I was about seven, my father left our home in a township near Maputo and travelled to South Africa to look for work. I was older than my sisters and had to help bring in some money. So I started to take my mother’s biscuits into town to sell in the market.

I got into doing odd jobs in the market – washing people’s cars and helping to carry their bags. Instead of going home, I often slept overnight in the market with my friends.

Showering by Mario Macilau
A boy washes himself with soap before a meeting with charity workers (Image copyright: Mario Macilau)

It wasn’t very safe. We had nowhere to keep anything, so we stole from one another. I got into some bad habits – minor criminality, but it was a question of survival. Dog eat dog.

My mother tried several times to send me to school but she just couldn’t afford the fees. But all this time I was learning – I read books, and through volunteering with NGOs I learned English.

When I was about 14, I borrowed a friend’s camera. I started to take photographs of my surroundings, documenting people from the townships as they travelled to the city to sell their things. They were black-and-white photos, which I developed in a darkroom I made in my mother’s house. I was teaching myself how to do things, practising whenever I could, but it was difficult for me to pay for the film and the chemicals.

Dreaming of Sunset by Mario Macilau
Street children live as nomads, moving from one point to the next with nothing but a little water and hand towels to wash cars. Macilau says they mostly sleep during the day because they are scared of night-time attacks by policemen, many of whom used to be street boys. (Image copyright: Mario Macilau)White line 10 pixels

My favourite photograph was taken near the township where I grew up early one morning. It was of a woman walking into town to sell cassava. She had her back to the camera and it was raining.

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