I was told before coming to Moçambique that I would have to turn down marriage proposals left and right. This is not completely accurate. Men here do not propose marriage. They simply inform.
Take for instance, a recent conversation with my tailor, translated into English:
Tailor: Good afternoon!
Me: Good afternoon? My dress is ready?
T: Just a moment while I fix up the zipper. So, do you live here in Chokwe?
M: Yes, I moved here a few weeks ago. I like it here. But I don’t like the heat.
T: Yes, it is hot. So, do you have a namorado (boyfriend, husband, lover, etc.) here in Chokwe?
M: (realizing exactly where this conversation is headed and jumping to evasive action) No, my husband is in the United States right now. Have you always lived in Chokwe?
T: (repeating the line all men in Moçambique recite and are convinced of) But no namorado living with you here? You’ll go crazy!
M: No, I’m okay. How about you? Do you have a namorada?
T: (clearly congratulating himself on this opportunity) No, not here, just in Bilene. (pause) I’m going to make you my wife.
M: Um, I have a husband. And you have a namorada, no?
T: In Bilene (roughly an hour away – clearly this is an excusable distance). But you will be my wife. I like you.
M: How’s that zipper coming along?
T: It’s good! Would you like to try it on?
M: (acknowledging we’re in the middle of the market and Moçambique does not believe in dressing rooms) No thank you, I’ll just take it. Good bye!
T: Can I have your phone number?
T: What?! Why not?
M: I’m going now. Have a nice day.
T: Okay! See you soon! Just bring it back if there’s any problems and I’ll fix it. Tchau.
M: Okay, thank you. Tchau!
And we part ways.