United Colours of Africa
Maputo Mozambique


"Having visited Maputo consistently over the last twenty years to explore the unique cultural symbols of the Marrabenta music of the south and Timbila music of the north, I have come to appreciate the magic of the capital city." Struan Douglas

Contact me on struan at afribeat.com for tailor made cultural tours in Maputo and Mozambique :

Here are my highlights from Maputo & Mozambican travel : #maputosfamous #khanimambo

Mozambique is the longest country in Africa and has a correspondingly wide range of cultures and music. The area below the Zambezi is commonly referred to as ‘Southern Mozambique.' The Zambezi valley divides the primarily matrilineal peoples of the North from the patrilineal peoples of the South. It also marks the Southern limit of Swahili or Arab influence.

In the South, two of the four people who remained unconquered by the Zulu were the Chopi and the Gitonga. Central Mozambique is bound with Shona speaking Zimbabwe and ‘Munhumutapa' kingdoms. Musically the Nyungwe belong with the heptatonic, instrumentally rich Shona musical family, whilst Southern Mozambique has a typically hexatonic music culture.

Maputo is growing. There are a lot of new buildings popping up. The new bridge linking Maputo mainland and Katembe Island, under construction, will provide a new road route from Durban to Maputo and increase the movement of people considerably.

Festivals in Maputo

Marrabenta festival: The 10th addition of this festival takes place in February in Maputo.

Festival do Zouk takes place in April in Maputo. This is a hugely popular festival and style of music

International Jazz Day: Mozambique through More Promotions Lda is an acknowledged partner of UNESCO's International Jazz Day held on April 30th each year. Last year The Morejazz Big Band and guests held a free concert in the gardens of café Acacia.

AZGO: Azgo is a contemporary celebration of arts and culture, programming all genres of music. It has grown to accommodate over 5000 people and impact about $1m on the economy. The 7th edition of Azgo Festival will take place in Maputo on the 19th and 20th of May 2017.

Tambo: International Art Festival takes place in July in Pemba (Capo Delgado).

Ponta Malongane festivals: The scuba dive capital near the South African border has two festivals, the STRAB ( Subterranean Rhythm & Blues experience) in May and the FORR ( The Fellowship of Rock & Roll) Festival in September.

Independence Day Festivities: June 25 th 1975 the country got its independence from the colonial power of Portugal and Samora Machel became the first President.

CHOPI Music Festival: T he timbila (ancient xylophone) orchestras' of the Chopi musicians perform late July, early August in the Zavala distr ict in the Inhambane province in southern Mozambique which is a UNESCO world heritage site.

National Cultural Festival: Takes place in August in Beira. All the provinces have cultural festivals during the year and there is a concerted effort underway to try and create a centralised mechanism to promote these regional festivals to tourists and lovers of culture.

Morejazz: October is Morejazz month in Maputo and the concerts take place over the last weekend of the month with a gala event at the Polana Serena Hotel and full festival at the Port de Maputo.

Tofo Ocean Fest: New Years and a mix of traditional music and contemporary travel to Fatima's Nest on the beach of Tofo for a three day event

Cultural centres Maputo:

Associacao dos Musicos Mocambicanos: A glorious venue with a huge stage for regular cross-genre music collaborations, great parties and beautiful people in the warm tropical climate.

Núcleo de Arte: Nucleus art centre is a multi-cultural space with a vibrant colourful and professional collective of fine artists, a workshop, a permanent stage for musicians and two bars for the constant flow of people.
Other popular live music venues include: CCFM – The French Cultural Centre; Elvis Pool Ba; Marnabrasa; Xima and Eagles Sports Bar …

Gil Vicente: A large old duble story building with a historic bar and well equiped stage offering live music 6 nights a week. The music programme is innovative, collaborative and forms part of a promotion and celebration feeder system.

The concept of Maputo's Famous: On a sunny summer day in the suburbs of Maputo during 2000, young kids surrounded an outdoor stage, jiving relentlessly alongside the childish disbalance of the old people who danced with them. The repetitive rhythms of the marrabenta music provided a splendid and authentic platform for the people to dance to. A rapper used his lyrics to spread a powerful message of virginity and education. I witnessed a new musical commitment climbing out of the musical void. The musicians are taking responsibility to educate, bring forgotten generations together and just play music. Ray Phiri was performing in Maputo while I was there. To see his performance bring such admiration from the young musicians on stage with him, to see his slick and spontaneous dance moves bring adoration from the audience was a treat. The Afro-pop music of the 1980s was critical in South Africa as performers like Phiri realised the power of music was with the people and the initiative was with the musicians. They know the importance of reclaiming their musical history and the importance of establishing a unique musical identity. Such a foundation leads to an explosion of musical culture.

Hotencia Langa (head of the association of musicians and previous cultural prisoner) put it: “The musicians are the ones with the product and the power.”

There is a new generation. Musicians are getting together, Kapa Dech are travelling and role models are developing. Everything is happening, from the passionate community gigs out in the poor and dusty suburbs, to the tiny, continually full rehearsal room at the back of the Association of Musicians. There are the regular hip-jiving passada bands at the Mini Golf nightclub and the fresh breed of marrabenta musicians playing afro-jazz like Jimmy Dludlu covers at Africa Café.

Mabulu had international success with their album Soul Marrabenta (Lusafrica records). Theirs is a style that integrates the old and the new. Lead singer and hero of marrabenta music Lisboa Matavel left the band due to contract wrangles. Chiquito added conscious and clever hip-hop to the traditional marrabenta sound of Matavel. As a style it straddled two important audiences. Mabulu was reaching out to the community, using the marrabenta to entertain and the hip-hop to educate, and thus create awareness and initiative amongst the youth.

Mozambique is a vast country with much to explore ...

Music of the Tete region

“Tete is a settlement of some antiquity. Before the Portuguese arrived in East Africa, it lay at the junction of the Zambezi and three or four main trading routes from the Sofala area into the African interior. The site of the modern town was occupied by Muslim traders in the 15 th century when it formed the link between the coast and the gold fields of Karangaland. It expanded during the construction of Cahora Bassa Dam. (The fifth largest dam in the world,) and Africa's largest supplier of electric power.

“`The Cahora Bassa rapids were the obstacle that prevented Livingstones Zambezi expedition from opening up the Zambezi as “God's highway” into the African interior. Cahora Bassa mean where the work ends,' in local dialect, in reference to the rapids as an impassible obstacle. The legendary silver mines if Chicowa active in 1617 have disappeared thought to be submerged by Cahora Bassa.

Music of the Niassa province

Niassa province is on the “Western border and is dominated by Africa's third largest body of water, the 585km long Lake Malawi, and by the wild, brachystegia covered mountains that form the eastern escarpment of the Great Rift Valley. During colonial times Lake Malawi was known as Lake Nyasa and Malawi was called Nyasaland. This name has remained unchanged in Tanzania and Mozambique.

Nampula province

Historically the most important town in Nampula province is Ilha da Mozambique (Mozambique island) which was the Portuguese capital in East Africa for almost 400 years before 1898 when it was superseded by Lourenzo Marques. It was declared a UNESCO cultural heritage site in 1992. It is linked to the mainland by a 3.5km long single-land causeway. The crescent shaped island measures 2.5 km in length and no more than 600m wide. The islands name is probably derived from Moussa Ben Mbiki, the incumbent sheikh when Da Gama first landed in 1499.

Pemba islands

Querimba Archipelego, a string of small offshore islands running parallel to the coast between Pemba and `the Tanzanian border, include |Bo. Formed an important link in the mediaeval coastal trade between Kikuwa and Sofala.

The Makonda of North East Mozambique and South East Tanzania are among Africa's best known craftsmen. Mueda the principle town is the only part of the country not to be colonized by the Portuguese.

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