Maputo, Mozambique

(Notes from a journey to Mozambique, Malawi, and Zambia, Sep/Oct 2015.)

Maputo is the cosmopolitan capital city of Mozambique and a major port of East Africa. Its urban core grew around a Portuguese fortress built in 1787, whose evocative remains still survive. In 1898, Maputo replaced Mozambique Island as the capital of Portuguese East Africa. Maputo's major streets are named after Marx, Engels, Lenin, Mao, and Allende—a legacy of the country's socialist politics after gaining independence from Portugal in 1975—as well as African leaders like Nyerere, Lumumba, Kaunda, and Mugabe. New wealth is most visible in southeastern Maputo, fueled by a class of locals that has disproportionately benefited from economic globalization in recent years, as well as by international investors and expats, especially Chinese.

The business district / upmarket part of town has wide avenues with jacaranda and flame trees, sidewalks, restaurants with global cuisines, bars, shopping malls, supermarkets, and smartly dressed people. The Indian three-wheeler taxi, called tuk-tuk here, is common in urban Mozambique. It has plastic panels/doors on both sides to protect against inclement weather, which I thought would be a nice feature to add in Indian autos. A half-day excursion is a ferry ride across Maputo Bay to Catembe beach where one can get a view of the Maputo skyline.

Maputo's City Hall is on Praça da Independência ("Independence Square"); on its left is the Catedral de Nossa Senhora da Conceição; in front is a statue of Samora Moisés Machel, a military commander, socialist leader, and first President of Mozambique. As we discovered, his statues are aplenty in Mozambique. The National Museum of Art hosts many famous contemporary artworks, including by Malangatana, Chissano, and Fornasini. An art market in a park showcases attractive bright batiks and paintings and chiseled woodworks, where one can see the forms that inspired cubism in Europe. Outside this zone, however, the veneer of prosperity quickly fades (two-thirds of the country's population lives in rural Mozambique, mostly in mud-brick houses). In Maputo, we were fortunate in having many insightful conversations with both locals and expats—including a Mozambican woman from the social sector and a leading local business magnate of Indian origin—about the country, its history, society, and politics, its many challenges, tragedies, and immense potential. [—Namit Arora, October 2015]

Praça da Independência

Maputo City Hall

Catedral de Nossa Senhora da Conceição

Statue of first president, Samora Moisés Machel

Av. 25 de Setembro

Av. 25 de Setembro

Av. 25 de Setembro

Av. Julius Nyerere

Maputo Shopping Center

Family crossing a road

Eateries at Maputo Shopping Center (1, 2)

A family of Indian origin in Maputo



Shoes for sale

Selling oranges

Portuguese fortress built in 1787

A model of the fort

Inside the fort

A statue inside the fort

Sculpture by Leopole o de Almeida, "Representação das Companhas de Militares Ocupação do Territorio"

Sculpture by Leopole o de Almeida, "Representação da Prisão de Naungunhan"

Praça 25 de Junho

Rua do Bagamoyo

Rua do Bagamoyo

A strip tease joint

Edifices, south Maputo

A sculpture outside a telecom company

Senhora da Cobra

Railway station (more)

Praça dos Trabalhadores ("workers square")

Municipal Market

Municipal market (1, 2)

Municipal market

Waiting for transportation

Overloaded truck

Hotel Polana

A hotel on the coast

Reading a book

Maputo coastline

Jumma Masjid

Igreja de Santo Antonio da Polana

A school bus

Lunch in a cafe

Batiks for sale (more)

Paintings for sale (more)

Paintings for sale

Wood carvings for sale

Ferry to Catembe Island

Queue to get on

Locals going to Catembe (more)

Maputo skyline from Catembe (more)

Natural History Museum (more)

Display inside the museum

Preserved elephant fetuses at multiple stages (1, 2)

Wood sculptures

A sculpture in the museum

A sculpture in the museum

A sculpture in the museum

A sculpture in the museum

Traditional baskets

Admiring Maputo Bay

An average neighborhood

Av. Lumumba / Av. Lenine

National Museum of Art

Museum building




Artist Moisés Simbine

Artist Carlos António do Amaral Fornasini

Artist Jorge Nhaca (1943-97), "Trabalhadores da Camara Municipal", 1973

Artist Mankeu Valente Mahumana (1934-), "Sem Titulo", 1975 (1, 2)

Artist Alberto Chissano (1935-94), "Sem Titulo", 1985

Artist Alberto Chissano (1935-94), "Sem Titulo", 1985

Artist Malangatana Valente Nguenha (1936-2011), "Criança essa permanente esperança"

Artist Mankeu Valente Mahumana (1934-), "Luto", 1988

Artist Matthew Blessing Sithole, "Conversa de Olhos", 2015

Artist Naguib Elias Abdula (1955-), "Grito de Paz", 1985

Artist Bertina Lopez (1924-2012), "Mafalala"

Musical instruments


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