April 7 is Mozambican Women’s Day (not to be confused with International Women’s Day on March 8 or Pan-African Women’s Day on July 31). April 7 is a national holiday, and women all over Mozambique organize in different groups with colleagues or church friends in matching capulanas. Then they march for women’s solidarity. It’s a fun day to check out new capulana designs. There are always women in the annual national capulana – a patriotic one with the date on it. This year’s had the book/hoe/gun* emblem from the Mozambican flag printed predominantly around it . Nothing like watching a group of laughing women walking down the street with huge AK-47s printed on their skirts.
On April 7, I did not wear a capulana, even though I promised some colleagues I would. Instead I went for a long walk in the morning with Brooke and Marina, in long shorts. Then we took Brooke to the airport to see her off, back to America. It was a sad day. It can be hard to find kindred spirits in foreign lands. Unfortunately, the nature of life overseas is that expat friends come and go as rapidly as clothing seasons at Gap – or as rapidly as Women’s Day capulanas in the market.
On our way out of the airport parking lot, we commented on how even the parking attendants were wearing matching capulanas. The girl who came to the car window smiled a big smile and said, “Feliz nosso dia!” Literally, “Happy our day!” We complimented her on her outfit, and I thought about what she said as we drove away – “our day”. Clearly we are not Mozambican; clearly we weren’t wearing capulanas; clearly we weren’t doing anything to celebrate Women’s Day. And I often look at women here with their babies tied to their backs, bundles on their heads as I walk past in my trousers with my computer in a backpack on my back and think, “There is so little that defines unites both of us as women.” But in that moment, with the cheerful parking lot attendant, we were included in the celebration.
*Mozambique is the only country in the world with a gun on its flag.