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The Savannah is an Infinite Church

January 2, 2013

By  Mia Couto

Do we really remember what we have experienced? Or are we incorrigible falsifiers of the past, fabricating memories as we relive them? As for me, nobody can say that my memories of a cold morning in July are not true. I am 12 years old and I am in the Gorongosa National Park. My parents are still asleep, but I have already left the bungalow to sneak a peek at who must be watching me. During the night, I listened to the roar of lions, the false laugh of the hyenas and the sad howl of the jackals. My parents will never believe it when I tell them. I therefore need evidence of other presences, beasts I could point to in the confusion of my panting breast, and whisper: “They are there, can’t you see?”


I don’t stray away from the bungalow. It is a strange feeling, wanting to see but afraid of being seen. The grass is covered with dew; it looks as if the sky came down to the earth during the night. It is five o’clock in the morning and I have never felt the morning so intensely. All around, dozens of different birds are singing. Suddenly, the baboons sound the alarm, and I run to the bedroom where my brother is still stretching. Even today, I can remember that shiver when encountering a strange world. A feeling of the absolute pervades me and it is as if the savannah were an infinite church and I were one of the faithful from an unknown belief.

Bush Diaries