It began with an introduction via former southern Africa bureau chief Chris Torchia. An American philanthropist whose revival of a Mozambique wildlife park was the subject of previous stories had offered a scoop: Would the AP be interested in exclusively covering a historic peace deal to end hostilities between Mozambique’s government and the rebel-turned-opposition group Renamo? Africa editor Andy Meldrum, joined by his Johannesburg colleague, video journalist Nqobile Ntshangase, and Harare, Zimbabwe, photographer Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi, covered the disarmament of Renamo’s last fighters and the embrace between Mozambique’s president and Renamo’s leader. The AP photo of the hug was used prominently by The Washington Post and others as competitors scrambled for coverage.
But filing live from the remote wildlife park, a former rebel stronghold, wasn’t easy. To get live video working, Nqobile spent hours finding a successful combination of SIM cards in a part of Mozambique recovering from a devastating cyclone. Photographer Tsvangirayi ran to the park’s head office to find a signal strong enough to file, and when Meldrum tried to text an alert to the desk he found his phone had overheated in the hot sun during the signing’s two-hour delay. “I took the phone out of its case and held an empty bottle of water against it – it was still partially cool,” he said. “It did the trick and my phone came on just as the two held the accords in the air and then hugged.”