National Geographic : 1964 Aug
Personifying evil, a mapi co dancer hides from specta tors. His vest, studded with bells, jangles during frenzied performances. Fortified by throbbing drums, shouting Makonde villagers end each dance by chasing away the mapico. Another takes his place in an hours-long show. Carved and painted masks help mapicos stay anony mous. Carvers work in se crecy; it is taboo for women to see masks being made. stopped, quivered, and shook as if possessed. Then, as if defeated by the drumming sound barrier, the mapico stamped his feet and, with arms raised, retreated. Tattooed faces broke out in smiles, and the shouting crowd pretended to chase the mapi co back to the huts. "He represents an evil spirit," explained the doctor. "Now the drums have driven him away. It is an ancient ritual, but we know little else about it." Later on, between Mueda and the Rovuma River, I chanced upon a seven-man brigade of the Psycho-Social Service, Mozambique's version of the Peace Corps. In front of a 218 tent, a young Negro intern treated a queue of Makondes. Children wailed and mothers watched anxiously until all sores had been daubed with ointment (page 221). Other pa tients seemed to enjoy hypodermic injections. "They have an unbounded faith in the needle, much more than in pills," said Senhor Narra Paixao, the brigade leader. Under a tree, Paixao's wife, surrounded by earnest platter-lipped women, patiently taught knitting. A tattooed girl was having her first lesson in casting-on (page 220). After dark, training films were shown. The Makondes liked movies of themselves best of all-especially their mapico dancing.