ABSTRACT

M y left eardrum burst as we nose-dived in the little Cessna aeroplane to reach a small town in northern Mozambique. It was surrounded by RENAMO rebels, backed by the power of mighty South Africa, and we were coming to help the poor. I was sitting next to the pilot and, despite the pain, felt a responsibility not to distract him. I kept telling myself that a professional was in charge and I must abandon my fears to his superior skill and knowledge. The plane dropped downwards as if pressed by an invisible hand and the roofs of the houses lurched upwards. My eardrum seeped blood but I gave a faint smile in case the pilot was watching. Nothing mattered except his life-saving concentration. We flew above the track to the airstrip, with the dust spraying from the whirl of our propellers and children waving wildly, then rushing to hide as we passed them. Irritated with my own weakness I thrust the red-stained tissue into a sick bag and decided not to say anything. How could my small pain compare with the pain of Africa?