Urban migrants in Nampula City, northern Mozambique, perceive themselves to be living in an environment where they are particularly vulnerable to sorcery attacks. Key to this sense of vulnerability are Makhuwa notions of matrilineal descent and relatedness, which work to locate sorcery fears in the interstices of two kinds of proximity, namely social and physical. Accordingly, people fear the translocal reach of the ill will of kin residing in the countryside, with whose well-being they remain connected regardless of the physical distance. Simultaneously, there are threats posed by urban neighbours who, due to their proximity in physical terms but separation in social terms, are considered dangerous. This article analyses practices of conspicuous exchange as one of the strategies urban migrants employ in coping with these anxieties. Specifically, it draws on the life histories of two women in one neighbourhood of Nampula City to explore the challenges they experience in meeting demands for material assistance from rural kin and urban neighbours. The analysis shows that their accounts of sorcery are structured by the difficulty of balancing such demands in a setting of poverty and socio-economic inequality. This finding has implications for anthropological theories of sorcery, misfortune and urban migration.