The tree had stood in the square for nearly 100 years. It was planted by his father, before Afonso Reis was born. He worked as a driver and “liked trees”, says Reis, who is in his 70s. People used to eat the bitter red fruit, but more recently it had provided welcome shade for the stallholders of a busy market in Beira, one of Mozambique’s largest cities.
“I liked to sit under the branches,” says Fina, 21, who sells tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and garlic in the market’s chaotic alleyways. Others hawk bananas, oranges, secondhand clothes. Life would change but the tree seemed constant. Then something odd happened. At about 2pm on 14 March 2019, the tree suddenly keeled over and crashed to the ground. No one was hurt, but people were taken by surprise. “There was only a light wind,” Fina says. “Who would have thought that a tree that size would just fall down?”
We were trying to run from it but the water was coming really fast. The only thing we could do was climb a tree
We visit a farm planted with maize, melons and banana palms. The crops are alive with locusts