The Flying Mozambican, with Florete Simba

He’s been in the military, a radio technician, an actor, athlete, teacher and today he is an entrepreneur. But one activity certainly distinguishes him the best: He learned how to fly!

With only 13 years of age, he signed up to the military front fighting the colonial forces, a group that would later become FRELIMO, the ruling party since Mozambique’s independence, initiating a trajectory that begun with a desk job attending to bureaucratic paperwork and landed in the cockpit of then mighty MIG21 Soviet fighter jet.

FurtherAfrica spoke to Mr. Florete Simba about his story of life and his vision about his country and its future.

Dinho Lima: I have to say that I’m very curious about the experience of flying a fighter jet. Could you tell us a little about the feeling of flying a MIG21 alone for the first time and how did you became a fighter jet pilot?

Florete Simba (first row second from the right) and his colleagues of flying academy in Russia, 1984

Florete Simba: I could not begin to answer this question without thanking God and my parents for they were the strongest influence of support for what has been quite a ride. To be a fighter pilot, particularly flying the MIG21 at that time is an absolutely incredible experience. I mean, flying has been a dream of mine since was a youngster. I remember staring into the night sky of Pemba, my hometown, contemplating the universe immensity,  fascinated with the stars above me. I could not have been older than 15 years old when I  developed the habit of reading articles about the cosmos and the so-called “flying  machines”. I remember daydreaming about “navigating among the clouds”. My young imagination and the information I was  feeding myself with those articles were the catalyst and the motivation for me to apply myself hard at school, aiming at one day being able to realize my dream of flying. It took perseverance, determination, the support of my parents and God – for without my faith I could not have become a pilot.

Dinho Lima: Flying at 2000Km/h does not leave much room for errors. How does that influence in the way you make decisions nowadays?

Florete Simba:  Obviously when you are flying a fighter jet, precision is key in every factor – and let me tell you that there are many factors. Flying includes a great deal of meticulous preparation before you even take off – for example, consonant to the distance of the flight, the pilot needs to calculate the fuel defining the flight’s alternation point among the many other detailed checks.

Today as an entrepreneur I don’t take a step without an in-depth reflection of my course of action that includes weighting the pros and cons as well as the different outcome scenarios of my decisions. My training as a pilot had a very positive influence in that aspect, for today, taking structured and well-thought decisions become natural to me.

Dinho Lima: You have lived in the Soviet Union, Cuba, England and Mozambique, countries with very different and very distinct social realities. What could we take from these  differences?

Mozambican Mig-21

Florete Simba:  Well, as I like to say, every nation is a school and every school has different teachings that one has to appreciate and take into context. The four countries you mention are indeed very distinct, but they all played a role in building my character, particularly for me to become a socially balanced individual. I guess the biggest lesson would be respect. For respecting the reality of each country and its social realities is what keeps us from international conflicts. As each country takes its social approach in different way, I’ve learned to take circumstances into context whenever looking at a new social reality.

Dinho Lima: How is your Russian nowadays? 

Florete Simba: (laughing) When I was living in the former Soviet Union, I already spoke the national languages of Mozambique. However, when one doesn’t speak often its ability to speak a foreign language, one falls out of practice, but I think I’m still able to communicate reasonably well.

Dinho Lima: It has been said that by living abroad, we gain different views and begin to see our country from different perspectives. In your opinion, what does the future hold for Mozambique? 

Florete Simba as a cadet in Russia, circa 1984

Florete Simba: Anderson, Mozambique is a diamond in the rough – a blessing of nature. I see in the agriculture, the path for the development and the future of our country. I’m also a firm believer that the country’s
mineral resource’s wealth and the proper development of the extractive industry has the potential to rank Mozambique at the very top of African players. With the maintenance of the good policies that the Government of Mozambique has been adopting, we shall see Mozambique shinning in the international trade arena.

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