This is Africa like you’ve never heard it before, with an original hard-core head-banging heavy metal soundtrack.
Mozambique became an independent nation in 1975 after almost 500 years of Portuguese rule and a 10-year war for freedom. Outside forces immediately formed an opposition to destabilize the new government. They massacred children in their classrooms and conscripted child soldiers. During the next 18 years, until a settlement was reached in 1992, over 5 million people were displaced and more than a million people were killed. This is the first generation of Mozambicans to grow up in peace.
The musicians are bright, personable, resourceful, talented and photogenic high school and college students in a country with a literacy rate still below 50%. (Literacy in Mozambique is defined as being able to sign your name.) Many of these students must wake at 4 a.m. to catch a 5 a.m. bus in order to arrive in time for 8 a.m. classes.
We see them at home, at school, hanging out with their friends, talking about music, politics, HIV/AIDS (Mozambique has one of the world’s highest infection rates), the wars, what their lives are like now, the difficulties they face, their hopes, dreams, ambitions, aspirations, and of course there are rehearsals and concerts.
To its foreign donors Mozambique is one of Africa’s success stories, yet almost none of the massive amounts of money in aid and investment that has poured into the country over the last 20 years has trickled down to the people. According to Transparency International, Mozambique recently overtook Congo and Zimbabwe for the distinction of most corrupt country in southern Africa. In November of 2011 Mozambique was ranked 184th out of 187 countries on the U.N.’s Human Development Index, which measures average income, overall health and access to education. So while the fighting has ended, the struggle to survive continues.