10 August 2012

In search of the elusive Mozambican Vespa

One would presume that since the arrival of the Portuguese in Mozambique in 1498, their long stay until 1975, and the years leading to the present; sufficient time would have passed to cultivate and instil upon this land the culture of owning Vespas. Portugal, like the rest of Latin Europe, is a country where owning motorcycles has always been popular. This has been also been so due to the low purchase price, insurance costs, simplicity of maintenance and the general practically of ownership. Therefore, by "exporting" this understanding of motorcycles to the colonies early on, one is not surprised to see present day Mozambique teeming with Chinese motorcylces and scooters. Let's say that it's simply in the blood now.

Now, I know that loads of Vespas, Lambrettas and other popular brands of the time, were exported to Mozambique. I remember my father speaking fondly of the Lambrettas of his era in Quelimane (central Mozambique). The was a story of a local couple that used to go about feeding and taking in the stray dogs of the little city. They were able to train a puppy into sitting contently on the footplate of their Vespa. For many years to come, it was a common sight to see a big dog riding "side saddle" at his masters feet, as the owner meandered down the street on his Vespa. Looking directly at this spectacle, one would observe the head to one side of the leg shield, and the tail to the other!

So where are these machines? Sure, this is not Cuba and I'm not expecting to see something resembling a Vespa, held together by fencing wire and old sardine cans, smoking its way down the street. Some of these machines would be almost 50 years old now and let's face it, this is rural Africa – nothing will take that sort of punishment for ever! I suspect that some have long since disappeared into the dense bush, others have been taken apart and their components and parts transformed into simple implements and tools (that is the spirit of the Vespa, always giving, giving, giving), still others have been sold for scrap and melted down – today perhaps living as the left rear door of your shiny Toyota! Who knows these things, what I can say is that I've yet to see one.

Because I haven't seen one, does not mean that there are no Vespa's or Lambretta's long forgotten in the back of somebodies garage or basement. Once sporting perhaps a shiny lime green colour and a spanking new set of 10' Dunlop tires, today, bearing the scars of time and abuse, it lingers under a thick coat of brown dust under a rotting tarpaulin, next to the long forgotten VW Karman Ghia, still waiting for the engine transplant. Yes, I believe that with a bit more time, poking and prodding about, the elusive Mozambican Vespa will be found! Watch this space folks!

(Posted by Paulo)


Jerome West said...

Found it See http://jeromes1day.blogspot.com/2013/11/elusive-mozambican-vespa.html

Unknown said...

I bought one! Sold in 1968, Vespa Super, imported into Portugal in 1974.

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