As the sun sets, around 5:50pm, the darkness that descends on Nampula is broken by the sharp sounds of sudden slaps coming from within the households as people settle in for the night. Or so I imagine. It is like this in my house every night that I am no longer taken by surprise, my heart ripped out of my skin, at the startling clap of hands on either side of a mosquito. In fact, I have quite taken to the sport myself, risking stings and the embarassment of clear missed swoops, all in the name of getting as many of the pests as possible. It doesn’t help, there are hundreds of them still but the moment, right after the clap, that reveals a dark smear on the palms, is reward enough.

There are other forms of mosquito slapping that require equipment more than mere hands. The Chinese shop sells mosquito zapping racquets – they have uv lights to attract the prey who get zapped in the mesh – which can be bought in pairs and a match arranged, remember to move the furniture to make some space. Then there is the more docile form of the sport, known as watching the mechanical mosquito slapper – or more commonly known as ‘the killer’ – which involves none other than a cold beer and comfy chair from which to watch those mossies get fried. (Equipment is a standing form of the racquet)

I have heard of pillow slapping, or toss the pillow at the mosquito, but this variety lends itself to more misses than hits and can be a form of frustration, especially as it seems to be played in the small hours of the morning, after being either rudely awoken or kept awake for hours.

The most dangerous form of mosquito slapping has to be mosquito slapping in the shower as it involves a subtle mix of awareness, aim, coordination and balance. One sudden move and you could be on the floor with bruised limbs and ego as the ones that got away hover above just out of reach of your soap waving arm.