By Pedro Lousa
A few months after the independence of Mozambique, my parents decided that it was no longer an environment for their children to live. Nevertheless, they decided to stay a little longer as they loved Mozambique and so, they sent us to Portugal, with our grandmother, to stay with an uncle and his family. We lived with them for over a year and half. After six months my parents joined us, but they had no jobs in Portugal (over 1 million Portuguese fled the colonies in 1975-1976, hugely increasing the population, which was a mere 8 million before the exodus) and so, they stayed at my uncle’s until they found jobs and an affordable house to rent.
My uncle had two daughters (a third one came shortly after) and my older cousin was just five years older than me, but she already participated in gymnastics competitions in Europe as she was very good at it. And it was in one of those competitions that an American mate offered her a coin which she kept in a ceramic money-keeper turtle. I don’t know if she liked the coin that much, but I loved to sneak into her room to look for the big, precious coin. That was the Ike dollar!
And I did this for several years after we left their house, as I loved to admire the coin. And I guess that all the environment (the return from Mozambique, the years of poverty, all my parents’ sacrifices to give their children the basic education for them to strive) – and those were tough years, especially for someone who had led such a happy life in Mozambique (I still consider those years four years in Mozambique as the happiest of my life) – led me to consider the coin as a token of hope.
Boy, how I loved to admire such a huge coin with a guy on one side and a beautiful eagle and a moon on the other. Now you know why I keep a special place for the Ike dollar in my heart!