International, Travel

The cultural side of Maputo


Lourenço Marques was the former name for the bustling city of Maputo. Capital to Mozambique, this dynamic city is steadily becoming a sought after African travel destination despite its struggling years of colonisation and civil unrest. This Portuguese capital was once a port for the spice trade and is now a historical and inspiring destination.

Despite its economic and social challenges, Maputo is creatively progressive with a thriving cultural scene. It has become a popular setting for international filming and a renowned location for festivals. We take a look at a few of Maputo's cultural delights.

Goncalo Mabunda: Sculptor and Artist

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Born in Maputo in 1975, this talented artist salvaged civil war wreckage to create his highly acclaimed masterpieces. Goncalo Mabunda has exhibited his work in Museum Kunst Palast, Dusseldorf, Hayward Gallery, London, Pompidou, Paris, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo and the Johannesburg Art Gallery.

The civil war scarred Maputo and was marked by 17 years of destruction, segregation and hardship. Mabunda used this period as his core reference in communicating his past. Gathered AK47s, rocket launchers, pistols and other objects of destruction make up the statement pieces of Mabunda's throne collection. Thrones are Mabunda's most popular works. Tribal elements of power and African traditions are merged with wartime weaponry. Masks are also a focal point of his collection. Mabunda's work has been compared to Picasso and Braque. The emotional is juxtaposed with the historical in these art pieces that are creative as well as empathetic.

Mima-te: Upcycled clothing

Image Credit: Mimate Clothing Image Credit: Mimate Clothing

Mozambican born twins Nelly and Nelsa Guambe created a fashion brand to give old clothes new meaning by up-cycling vintage pieces. Nelly and Nelsa grew up in Maputo, often walking the markets with their mother, buying second hand clothing from Europe and USA. This is where their passion for transforming dated clothing into modern fashion pieces, was fostered.

After receiving two scholarships to study, these dynamic twins pushed their creativity further and established Mi-Mate Clothing. Upcycling dated garments has allowed their community to feel fashion forward while also promoting positive growth within a struggling community. The initiation of the brand was sparked by Swedish designer, Amanda Ericson, who held an exhibition called 'Life of the Dress.' This encouraged the twins to set up their own studio.

Saint Antonio Catholic Church

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Image Credit: Alexander Matthews and Gabrielle Guy Image Credit: Alexander Matthews and Gabrielle Guy

The Church of San Antonio de la Polana is located in the city of Maputo. Built in 1962 by Portuguese architect Cavreiro Nuno Lopes, this religious building reflects the qualities of an inverted flower (most people see it as a lemon squeezer). The church was fully restored in 1992, and is a popular destination for visitors. Stained glassed windows surround the church, adding touches of femininity. The altar and seats are perfectly designed to suit the unique design of the building.

Matapa: Traditional food

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Matapa is a traditional dish served in Maputo. The dish is made up of cassava leaves, garlic, onion and coconut milk. This soft, green-like dish can be served with rice or various types of fish. Cassava leaves are grown throughout Africa. The leaves and roots are high in hydrocyanic acid which is poisonous, but when cooked, the acid disappears. Matapa is a dish that holds a high nutritional value but it is also affordable to most communities. If you visit Maputo, this dish is readily available, and is served with a variety of seafood and rice.

AZGO Music Festival

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Azgo festival is one of Maputo's largest arts festivals. Since its inception in 2011, this international festival has attracted artists from all over the world, celebrating heritage, cultural diversity and the good life. In a city that has faced years of destruction from war, Azgo promotes positive energy and a spirit of creativity.

The ethos of Azgo is to contribute to cultural development, bring different artistic crowds to Maputo, promote Mozambican heritage, provide a platform to promote musicians and create commercial opportunities.

Featured image credit: Alexander Matthews and Gabrielle Guy

Turn to page 104 of the December 2016 issue of House and Leisure for the full travel feature on Maputo.