The Art of Obrigada

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This week I am contemplating obrigada.

Obrigada(o) is the Portuguese word for ‘thank you,’ and I am certain that, 3 weeks into life in Moz, there is no word we have heard more here. I am wondering if Mozambicans are the most grateful people in the world or if saying thank you is habitual or ‘just an expression.’

Sometimes Mozambicans say thank you at a time when I would expect it. Like when I hand someone something and they say thank you or I help with something and they say thank you or I compliment someone and they say thank you.

Most of the time, though, Mozambicans say thank you….

Yes, most of the time Mozambicans say thank you. I’ll just leave it at that.

An exchange that I have many times a day goes like this:

Me: “Bom dia.” or “Boa tarde.” or “Boa noite.”

Mozambican: “Bom dia obrigada.” or “Boa tarde obrigada.” or “Boa noite obrigada.” or “Obrigada.”

Translation:

Good morning (or afternoon or evening).

Good morning (or afternoon or evening), thank you. Or just thank you.

Another exchange:

Me: Ate ja.

Mozambican: ok obrigado.

Translation:

See you soon.

Ok, thank you.

Or perhaps my favorite:

Me: Obrigada pelo refecao. (still haven’t figured out where the accents are on this computer…)

Mae: Obrigada.

Translation:

Thank you for the meal.

Thank you.

Thankfulness and gratitude are great things. And we are reminded of them so many times a day here as everyone tells us obrigada for everything, usually with a big smile on their face. Again, I am not yet sure if Mozambicans are extremely grateful, if they are thanking me just for greeting or noticing them, or if this is just an expression.

But watch out America, because I fully intend to perfect the art of obrigada and bring it home.

Greeting me in 2018 will be like this:

You: Hey

Me: Thanks

You: How are you?

Me: Fine, thanks. (normal)

You: Thanks for inviting us over.

Me: Thanks.

You: Ok, see you later.

Me: Thanks.

But it will still never sound as good as ‘obrigaaada.’

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