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.
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.
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.