Ramos-Horta in Bissau, on a Sunday morning.

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I have been in Guinea-Bissau for few days only. It seems it has been much, much longer. No time to think about back home. But each time I think of the country, people, family, friends I left behind at the other end of the world, my heart aches. But I came here with a mission.

Expectations are far too high. The problems seemingly intractable. The people here are just incredibly patient, warm, friendly, innocent.

Criminality is the lowest in the entire Continent. Streets are safe, any time of the day or night. I have asked my UN security personnel to diminish the number security guards I have. They promptly agree. Last night I went to a farewell function at the residence of the very
afable South African Ambassador, a big, charming man, who is taking up a new assignment, going from here to Abuja, Nigeria. I went there on a single car, driver and one security detail.

Today, Sunday morning, I decided to visit the local markets. I discarded most security, no UN flag on my car. Bought mangoes, bananas, oranges, tangerines, cashew nuts, papaya, etc. All local produce. Price? Well, I never bargained. I paid what I was told. I never have the guts to bargain with poor people. Being ripped off by poor people is not so bad. Just like back home in Timor-Leste. Prices go up instantly when vendors see me approaching. They heard me many times speaking out for the poor. So they believe they should charge me double the normal price.

Like back home, I enjoyed the scene, the simple people, men and women, trying to make a
living, selling, buying, reselling. When I had finnished my shopping spree of tropical produce, one young local vendor, asked me: “Can we have a photo with you for souvenir?”. I said yes of course. So they all gathered around showing off their produces. Even a fish. I didn’t buy the fish.

As I entered the car, a tall, elegant, simple man, maybe in his 60′s, gestured indicating he wanted to say something. I opened the car door, he shook my hands and said: “Pls do for us what you did for your people. Look after us they way you looked after your people”. God, I almost cried. Even a hardened heart would cry!

A few minutes later, in another area, not too far, as I strolled down the busy, chaotic road,
a young man shouted “Ramos Horta”! I stopped, extended my hands which he held warmly and said: “I’m you…you are me…you are us! Pls help this country!”.

It is going to be a long year, many days, weeks ahead. The road will be a very bumpy one. The people here are crying out for help. From people of all walks of life, I have heard only words of friendship, genuine, warm. Expectations too high. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon asked me to serve here, in Guinea-Bissau, to help steer the country towards a lasting peace. Will we succeed?

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10 thoughts on “Ramos-Horta in Bissau, on a Sunday morning.

  1. Mamadú Baldé

    Olá, sou Saibana um dos jovens ubuntu que esteve consigo em Lisboa, com Rui Marques, estive a ler post sobre a Guiné-Bissau, a minha Guiné-Bissau e emocionei-me. É verdade, assim é o meu povo maltratado que ansiosamente procura pela estabilidade. Desde Lisboa, na iminência de partir na minha aventura até ao meu país vou acompanhando com muita fé e esperança o trabalho que esta a fazer.
    E vou rezando a Deus tudo corra bem, que nós crentes nesta missão e no país possamos respirar a vitória!

    Escrevi apenas para expressar a minha emoção.

    Saibana Baldé

    Reply
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  3. Jaime dos Reis

    Sr, uza nafatin stratejia iha Timor-Leste atu hakbesik liu tan povu, hodi povu Guine Bissau senti duni katak ita ajuda sira, laos ho sasan, maibe hakbesik-an nee mak hanesan osan mean, no inspirasaun mak valor atu sira rezolve rasik sira-nia problema, ho presenza ita-nia nudar mediador, fasilitador no intermediador ba problema Guine-nian.

    kontinua a luta,

    Viva Timor-Leste!!!!

    Reply
  4. Macaria Barai

    God the Almighty has given you a second life in order to send you on mission to Guinea-Bissau. HE will guide you through this difficult mission and you will be graced with our prayers.

    We’ve met in difficult times of Guinea Bissau. If you recall, I was the lady who organised the women, in 2004, to pray and sing in the Catholic, Muslim and Protestant Religions. We lit candles around the turnaround of “IMPERIO”. It was when the Army Chief of Staff, Verissimo Correia Seabra was assassinated. From your meeting with key stakeholders, you came and commended our initiative.

    FYI, I was a member of the Peace Building Commission chaired by the UN Ambassador Luisa Viotti and as well among the 1000 Women for the Nobel Prize in 2005.

    At present I’m based in Dakar, Senegal working with the Intergovernmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA). Working in GIABA is helping me to do a critical thinking on the causes of the crises in my small and beautiful country.

    I’m available to assist on whatever is required to bring stability to my country. We yearn for it. It’s only that outside world is not getting the real picture of the realities on the ground. We need a trusted person to advocate and raise awareness of the real Guinea-Bissau and her people. Therefore, thank you very much for conveying the truth to millions of readers.

    God Bless you and best wishes.

    Macaria Barai

    Reply
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  7. Rhonda Palmer

    God Bless you Dr Ramos-Horta and may your efforts in Guinea-Bissau be blessed with success Peace and prosperity’ Very Best Wishes Rhonda Palmer

    Reply
  8. Nuno Saldanha

    Misaun nebe bot tebes, ami iha nee kontinua apoio ita bot atu bele susesu, Povu Guine Bissau presija tebes Senhor Ramos Horta nia apoio. Maromak sempre akompanha ita ho ami nia orasaun

    Abracos

    Reply
  9. santino Dare MATIAS

    Hanesan Timor oan ne’ebe mak koinese iha mundu..Hau louva ho haraik an nebe Sr Ramos Horta iha, hau reza nafatin ba Sr Horta atu fo dame ba maluk sira iha Guinea-Bisau atu nune’e povu iha neba sente moris nee iha valor.

    Ami povu Timor hotu no liluk hotu iha Timor sempre akompanha ita

    viva Timor Leste nia oan no viva Dame iha mundu…..A luta Continua…..viva Ramos Horta

    Reply
  10. Aplimentec Foundation

    Dear Ramos Horta,

    We are proud of you – Ramos Horta (RH). As a Timorese, we encourage you to the best for Guinea Bissau (GB). We have passed long journey as we did and you did. Our experiences are good lesson learnt – that might usefull be practical in GB. Dear RH, on behalf of small Timorese NGO, we are in your back. We count with you every day – that one day GB will be a welfare and democratic country in the world as we wish as well for Timor Leste.

    Francelino de Jesus
    Director
    District Liquica

    Reply

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