The village I live in is called Majicavo. Literally, it means "where there is no water". Like all Mahorese villages, it's a very poor place, but near enough to the capital (Mamoudzou) for people to want to be modern and Westernized.

Also like all Mahorese villages, it has a lot of shops, known as doukas, and small local restaurants, called brochetti or brochetterie because they sell mainly chicken wings and kebabs of meat or fish. They have names such as "Welcome Mayotte", "Mastéréhi" ("Enjoy your meal and be at rest"), or "Proxi-shop". Others are called after the owner. However, as you can see from the photos below, they're not terribly prepossessing. Often open in the evenings, not so much during the afternoon because of the heat, they're manned (or womanned) by either one lone person or a family, gaily chatting on the steps and staring at anyone who comes near. You stand at a counter, they stand on the other side and they will fetch the products you require. They sell your average basic stuff: gas bottles, rice, chicken wings, frozen cuts of goat or zebu meat, water and fizzy drinks. As some are more patronized than others, it's not rare to see a padlocked door with a family in front, who will open the door if you want anything, or a sleeping lady whom you'll have to wake up if you need service. They all seem to be sponsored by Coca-Cola.


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In the centre of the village is the mosque. Quite a pretty one, compared to some where you can hardly tell what the building is. Mosques have to be easily accessible for all the villagers, because most people here travel on foot. There are five prayer calls during the day, the first is usually at about 5 a.m.

In the centre of Mamoudzou, there is a street called the "Rue du Commerce", or main shopping street. At each end of that street, there is a mosque. People would go to one or the other depending on which end of the street they lived at. However, at one point, the two mosques each decided that the other was getting more people, and therefore that they needed to attract said people to this mosque rather than that mosque. The mosque at the bottom of the street called for prayer at 5 a.m., so the mosque at the top decided to call at 4.30 a.m. People came to the top mosque. Then the bottom mosque called at 4 a.m. Half-awake people came to the bottom mosque. They finally stopped playing games after one of the mosques called for prayer at half past three in the morning.


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Below are some photos of streets and houses in the village. There are two ways of living in Majicavo. Outside the village, there are a lot of shacks built on hillsides. These particular ones are just above the quarry, close to Koungou. People live up in the corrugated iron shacks and walk down a rather steep hill to access roads, mosques, shops and schools. There are absolutely loads of these shacks in Mayotte, they're all over the mountainsides, more or less belonging to one village or another. There isn't a land registry office in Mayotte, so nobody really bothers about where they put their houses or who owns what. Legend has it that nobody really knows who owns the parcel of land where the Vice-Rectorate (high education authority) is built.


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The second type of housing here is made of concrete blocks. That's the type of housing you find in the villages rather than on the outskirts. However, the buildings are very rarely finished off. Half-built walls, no roofs and no paint are common. Mahorese houses are usually pretty big because of the large families. There's still quite a bit of corrugated iron hanging around, though, because the walls often don't quite meet, or there are spaces for windows but they haven't got the money to put the window in yet. House-building is done on the principle of money in, money out: today, we have a bit of money, we'll build the walls for the first floor of the house. However, we don't have enough to build the roof, so that'll have to wait. When we've got the money and built the roof, then we'll see about the stairs. These photos really are typical village scenes in Mayotte.


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The attraction of a foreign visitor with a camera was irresistible.