Dancing with the Diaspora

Morejazz Maputo & Moreira Chonguiça: the face of cultural tourism in Maputo


Message from Silva Dunduro (Ministry of Culture and Tourism) 

The city of Lourenço Marques, now Maputo, continues to be one of the most beautiful cities in Africa, a multi-ethnic and multiracial center, a place where, in fact, faces of all colours of the human race intersect.

Since the late 1970s this urban space has embraced the most diverse cultural expressions, particularly jazz music. If until the end of last century, this musical rhythm counted on staunch followers/lovers, as was the case of Rangel, our respected photographer, today the face of jazz is by the renowned young Mozambican musician Moreira Chonguiça.

His strength, creative spirit and immeasurable love for our country, Chonguiça became ‘the face' of cultural tourism of Maputo City transforming this urban space one of the most important points of convergence of prominent figures of contemporary Jazz , such as Jonathan Butler, Manu Dibango, Judith Sephuma, among others. Mingled with the warmth and magic of the Jazz, it joins the rich and famous gastronomy typical of Mozambique, whose flavors, like the charm of the breath of Chonguiça, stitch the cultural identity of our country from the North to the South. In recognition of its selfless endeavor, the Mozambican government, through the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, welcomes and recognizes the merit of Chonguiça by placing Mozambique on the world cultural tourism route.

Orlando Quilambo, Rector, Eduardo Mondlane University Maputo Mozambique.

Because  education is a learning process valued by men, and culture, an asset that men hold or believe in, we can assert that without culture there cannot be education on it is own for it is culture that continuously feeds the former.

In the case of Mozambique where the rates of illiteracy are still high, the process of education which promotes social changes and frees society, can only be successful if it has culture as the driving force behind it.

The value of languages as the primary vehicle of knowledge transmission in rural areas is a living proof of the intrinsic relation between education and culture. 

In this relationship between  education and culture, Moreira plays a crucial role since his activity goes beyond music or jazz, to activities that change the lives of citizens with needs. For example, in our case students of disadvantaged background are beneficiaries of Moreira´s scholarships. 

At UEM we value the cooperation with Moreira, because it reinforces the relationship between education and culture.  


About Morejazz Series: The festival began in April 2012.  Originally the idea was to create a route from Cape Town International Jazz Festival but that didn't materialise so MoreJazz Series edition 1 was born as a stand-alone event featuring Najee, the smooth jazz saxophonist from US and his band and The Moreira Project. 350 people attended the opening night at the Polana Ballroom, and 800 people on the second night at Coconuts. Najee penned a song ‘MAFALALA' after a suburb of Maputo that he visited and it appeared on his latest album. In August 2012, Morejazz managed the stage at the international trade fair (FACIM) at Marracuene which featured Manu Dibango and a crowd of 35 000. The collaboration with FACIM continued for 2013 and 2014 with events in Marracuene, Polana and at the Port of Maputo. In 2015 the event moved to Polana with a capacity attendance of 850 people and the outdoor venue, Jat 5 with 4500 people in attendance. 2016 the events is at the Polana marquee and Port of Maputo. A key factor of Morejazz is the showcase of local talent. The Khanimambo project pays respect to Mozambican musicians, whilst visiting musicians are all involved in workshops at the University of Eduardo Mondlane. Morejazz has a significant effect on the economy with spin offs for hotels, markets, restaurants, and job opportunities for production crew, and freelance students. The current minister of Culture, an artist himself, is very aware of the importance of festivals such as Morejazz on the creative economy.In 2016 Morejazz consulted on the National Cultural Festival in Beira. All 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. October is Morejazz month in Maputo with a resident photographic exhibition at the Polana Hotel, open air movie nights  on a Wednesday evening with a music or jazz theme in the gardens of the Polana and jazz sessions on a Thursday on the verandah. 

Chonguiça says, "Maputo is a melting pot of so may different styles that it is difficult to define a sound.  But it has a unique cultural energy unlike any other city on the continent.  Through all its struggles and difficulties, there is always music and dance and art on show somewhere in the city"

One of the biggest influences is the Fado, a style of Portuguese folk music which is still hugely popular in Mozambique. European jazz from Portuguese musicians such as Mario Laginha and Maria Joao from Portugal who performed last year at Morejazz is very popular in Mozambique and very well supported. There are also big Brazilian influences in Mozambique which also have a bearing on the music."


Moreira's output includes a project called Khanimambo which means thank you. Moreira says, “ Khanimambo has surpassed the literary meaning. It is more than just thank you. It means respect.” The project gives tribute to the living legends of Mozambican music. Júlia Mwito, Dilon Djindje, Moisés Mandlate are all included on the Khanimambo album release whilst Wazimbo, Chico António, Aly Faque and Horténcia Langa performed at this years festival. Whilst these male singers illustrated the colour and joy of Maputo Marrabenta music, female singer Zena Bacar, from the North of Mozambique, brought the unique Arabic influenced sound and style of her region to the stage. There are more than thirty ethnic groups in Mozambique and they all have their different styles and sound.

Moreira said, “First, we have to value ourselves as Africans, but it is important we have this kind of international recognition to boost our self-esteem and make it appealing to the world. We are not static. We are so dynamic. That is the story that we have to tell the world.”

The Khanimambo project and the subsequent album "Khanimambo: Moreira Chonguica homenageia lendas de Mozambique vol 1" (Moreira Chonguica pays tribute to Mozambican legends) evolved because of a need to record a small sample of Mozambican musicians who had for so many years brought much joy to the Mozambican public but who had become largely forgotten by society.  The artists gave me their music which I re-arranged and recorded the instrumentals in Cape Town using musicians from there then I took it back to Maputo and asked the original artists to  come back into the studio to record their vocals. We gave some old favourites a new lease of life.  The album was to say thank you to all these wonderful artists for what they have given me as a musician and Mozambique over the years" . The album is a mixture of a number of wonderful music styles not only marrabenta but there is some old school rock there, some ballads and some jazz.


Khanimambo project is not just based on marrabenta. When I was writing my thesis for masters I was writing about marrabenta from the 1960s to 2000+. Mozambique had 16 years of civil war after independence. The capital Maputo and the surrounding areas in the South where you have radio Mozambique which is called the church of Mozambican music because every artist recorded there. The country was divided. If you were from Nampula and you come to Maputo to Radio Mozambique to record because the country was at war. That is why I am a partner with RM. RM is the church of Mozambicab music like SABC in SA. Of course there are other forms of cultural expression in Mozambique with regards to music that didn't have the same chance that marrabenta had. That does not mean that marrabenta is the most important cultural expression of Mozambique. It would be unfair because we are over 20 ethnic groups. The Shangaan, Chokwe, Matswa, Bitonga, Chopi, Makonde, Sena, Makua … Not all those tribes had the same chances the other tribes had in the South. Of course marrabenta became the most popular because marrabenta emerged in the South. In the South there was stability. This does not mean there were not other forms of music. I believe all styles of music in Africa derived from a dance, a rhythm. Marrabenta is this iconic symbol of Mozambique. It became popular and reached all the country because you had a tool called Radio Mozambique because the radio station is all over the country. The project Khanimambo is about Mozambique. If you look at Zenar Bacar, she is not a marrabenta musician. Aly Faque is not a marrabenta musician. Hortencia Langa is not pure marrabenta it is a mixture of other things, even rock. Chico Antonio is not just marrabenta even though he was part of the marrabenta style, but he has a much broader influence from blues to funk to marrabenta. Chico Antonio is probably the ultimate matrix of Mozambican music because he has everything. Khanimambo is that, it is about the hidden Mozambique. They were influenced by that, the same way the generation today the kids that play in my orchestra were influenced by hip hop, kwaito, DJ Fresh, Black Coffee. 20 years from now these boys will be more than jazz in their music. It will be jazz but it will have many other influences. Khanimambo 2 I will take the same artists and add because I cannot abandon them.

Dilon Djindge we added a bit of house music to say that Dilon is so essential because Dilon is an open mind. He closed the album. Art is dynamic. He can dance for two or three hours and he is 80 plus.


Interview Moreira Chonguica: Mission possible ...

I am branding Maputo Mozambique in the perspective of cultural tourism / creativity and social equity. This is one of the most creative cities in Africa. If you look at South Africa you have Cape Town. It is some sort of creative city. Johannesburg is also a creative city. And that is how we can look at it using culture and art as the subject matter. Not crafts.

We are focusing on number one, the best that we can offer. If you come to Mozambique and I put you in a hotel, take you to a concert. You go and eat dinner, you go and buy art. I must take you to the best. After that you can see average. If we want to be global players we must speak the same language people are speaking in London, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Paris, New York, without necessarily sounding biased. It is possible to show our identity respecting the global standard.

Work with Polano how does that relate?

Polano hotel is a 5 star hotel. It is the official hotel of the Morejazz series. It was built in the 1920's and there is some kind of history. When you come to Maputo and I take you to the fish-market and then I take you to a township, Mafalala, to see where the great writers and soccer players came out of, it is important that I show to people that come to my city the history of my city. And history is only made by people. There are many good 5 star hotels. Polano is special because there is a history. Since 1922 that hotel has been there and it has been reinventing itself. It is a symbol of the city. It is no longer a hotel. It is an institution. You have Manu Dibangu coming to Maputo and then I take him to a township called Mafalala. Samora Machel who was the president of Mozambique lived there. Clavarigno who was a top writer who passed away, lived there. Josebo who was the second best soccer player in the world after Pele came from there. That is what we want to share Maputo and Mozambique in general when you come here. We are showing the references.

And then because we are talking about history, that is what we pass to the new generation. We use jazz and we use music and teach our young kids the meaning of respect because a human being who has no respect for his own culture, he will never be nothing in the world. We cannot wait for someone to come and tell you that you are beautiful, we have to look to the beautiful parts that we have. So, when we talk about cultural tourism that is what we are trying to show. If you want to visit the North we take you to the Ilha de Mozambique where the first building that Europeans built in Africa was in Mozambique in the 1500's. The aim is to show our heritage. And we have about 3000km of coast. We've been influenced by many people. The Arabs were here, the Chinese were here, the Portuguese were here, etc etc. We are not static. We are so dynamic. That is the story that we have to tell the world. South Africa did that well.

Hows the jazz festival doing it?

I lived in Cape Town ten years. I have played at the Cape Town jazz festival. I have played at a lot of festivals internationally. The festival has managed to reinvent the city of Cape Town. That is what we want to do. We want to do the same and take it to the next level. Number one the water in Maputo is warm. You can swim. Cape Town you can't. We are using the vehicle of jazz and these superstars that are coming to Mozambique to come and see, play and share. We have a scholarship partnership with the University Eduardo Mondlane which is the main university in Mozambique. Every artist that comes here does master classes and a sort of workshop with students and people from society in general. Hugh Masekela was here. Jonathon Butler was here. Angelique Kidjo was here. Etc etc. All the musicians that come to my festival don't come for a day, they spend a minimum of four or five days. They see the culture. They have to talk to people. They have to eat in restaurants. They have to walk on streets. And we use their image as equity to send the message abroad using social media, you name it. That's what people will follow. People have less time to watch television. People are on social media. And the idea is one day to get to that level …

Part of the success was building the ICC?

That is our biggest challenge at the moment, I have to accept and recognise. We don't have a convention centre the size or level of the Cape Town International Convention Centre or the Sandton Convention Centre. So, saying that, I have to be a bit creative. We are going to use our city. We just pray it doesn't rain. It is outdoors. We take it to the closer side of the CBD. Sometimes we go to the ports, which will be your waterfront. We use that location. While we are waiting for the venue to be built, we use the city as the panoramic scenario. I am bringing you some magazines for you to see some of the pictures – the panoramic, the buildings. The venue we are using in the CBD is surrounded by four or five beautiful buildings made of glass and takes about 10 000 people in the venue. We do a special edition at the Polano for about 1000 people. It is a gala of the festival. And then we take it to the people. 28 th and 29 th of October. You should come in October.

Music development?

The National School of Music was created by government when Samora Machel became president in 1975. It is a national school that teaches music to people. The main focus is classical music. Today the school has 150 students. I am a patron of that school. We work very closely with that school and an extra four or five schools that are lecturing in music. My big band is made up of kids that come out of those schools. April 30 th we are celebrating the international jazz day in partnership with UNESCO. It is a free concert in the park and the focus is on the kids. The kids are performing. I am going to play with them, but they are the ones inviting me. We are creating second festival with UNESCO International Jazz day where the focus is the kids, the stars is the kids from 11 to 5 in the afternoon. Us the adults and established musicians, we warm up the stage for them.


Moreira Chonguica Interview 01/04


This album is called Khanimambo meaning thank you . Khanimambo has surpassed the literary meaning. It is more than just thank you. It means respect . This album was done in 2010 when I came back to Maputo and started living in Maputo. I wanted to do a collaboration with artists that I like that are much older than me. Hotencia Langa is in his 60's. Julio Muito is 50 plus. Djindje is almost 90m year old. Ali Fark 50. He is the youngest here. Moses Mojati is the oldest, probably 95 now. I took these artists, I spoke to them and asked them to give me a song of their choice. I took the song and reinterpreted them. Usually when you do this type of tribute they already died. I wanted them to be a part. So I put together the arrangements and asked them to come and sing. This is my Khanimambo because what I am is because of artists like this that didn't have the same opportunity as me. How do I take this music, considered old music to a new audience. I grew up I studied jazz, I like hip hop, I like rock, I travelled the world, so I brought those elements to this music. That is what Khanimambo is all about . The cover, this is a shot by Zwelethu. This shot was inspired by the Makonde mask. We have a tribe called Makonde in the North of Mozambique and there is a famous mask called the Makonde mask with a face. This was inspired by that. That is Khanimambo. All the artists come from different parts of the country and they all sing in different languages. We have so many ethnic groups in Mozambique, over thirty. Going back to Mozambique I was saying thank you. I am what I am because of artists like this. I don't want to forget them. Each of these artists is like a library on its own.

What about Buena Vista Social Club?

The difference is that African doing for Africans . There is no Hollywood touch. We are doing it properly. I am saying this is how I see you, in my perspective in my thirties, because culture is dynamic, culture is not static. For this we had the sponsorship of the BCI, which is a bank I work with in Mozambique, a commercial investment bank in Mozambique . They were sponsors of this.

If you see the cover we are saying thank you in all the different languages of Mozambique. I am saying thank you to the country. We are trying to do something in a different manner, something packaged properly that you can be proud of, that is the story of Khanimambo.

Is marrabenta the primary style of Mozambique?

No, it is the most popular. You have to understand, Mozambique after independence in 1975, then we had 16 years of civil war. Like in any country, everything that comes from the capital where there is war will be crumbling. Marrabenta is from the South. The capital was Maputo where the radio station is, where the television station is, do you understand. Marrabenta became the most known music. You have to respect the social context of the country at the time. But then you have bands like Eyuphuro who come from Nampula in the North that broke into Europe. They were not from the South. I would say marrabenta is probably the most popular due to those circumstances. It is not necessarily because it is the main style of music from Mozambique. There is no main style of music.

Music breaking borders … ?

Definitely, that makes sense. Culture in Africa in particular, we did not have borders here. People moved freely. If there were floods people moved to places without floods. Look at jazz in the United States. Look at Brazil and the rhythms they use. Look at Cuba. All these things were brought by other people who moved and travelled around.

How is it that the Mozambiquean musicians are so popular in Cape Town?

If anything there is a novelty with the music. Cape Town is far from Joburg and Mozambique and they bring a new sound. The new sound is strange. And anything that is strange is news because it is disruptive from what you are used to hearing.

I think Jimmy Dludlu is a great artist, great composer, great producer, great guitarist, great person. He has moved around a lot playing with the greatest, from Brenda to Hugh Masekela, you name it. And he was true to himself. Anybody who is true to himself will stand up.

What attracted you to Cape Town?

In 1993 the United States have the Thelonious Monk institute of jazz ambassadors and every year the best students of the Thelonious Monk Institute of jazz ambassadors put a band, similar to what the Standard Bank do in Grahamstown. These guys travel the world and they came to Mozambique. At the time I was playing clarinet. They came to Mozambique and they travelled with a jazz legend that is part of them. At the time it was Jackie Mclean, father of Rene Mclean who was at the time living in Cape Town and giving lessons at UCT. They came to Mozambique through the cultural centre for the United States. And they came to my school which is the National School of Mozambique. And they have done a workshop there. I knew Jackie Mclean from reading downbeat magazine, but I wasn't that aware of what he is and what he means. He was with his son. I was playing clarinet and we did a small presentation for them. There was a drummer. The drum kit from the music school was crap but the way he played it, he messed up the drums. They were playing. You see everything falling apart. Of course in the break we spoke to Rene. That was my first introduction to Cape Town.

That was a rich era for Cape Town music:

It was rich: Marcus Wyatt, Buddy Wells, Jimmy Dludlu, Judith Sephuma, Selaelo Selota, Musa Manzini, Kesivan Naidoo … that is a huge move. You can start a political party with those guys!

Mozambique supports music …

This is just the beginning. The great great thing about Mozambique and thanks God is that when you are in Mozambique I want to do an exercise, I want to drive with you and listen to radio. They play all styles of music. In Mozambique they still play juju from Nigeria, they play Gaziling Khazar from Antilles, Zouk, Salief, jazz, smooth jazz … and we are very open to art. There is a development. It is good to live in a developed country but it has its downfalls. All the experiences I have had in South Africa and the United States I am trying to do in Mozambique. And Mozambiqueans receive well and support because they are cultured enough to understand the intangible value of it. Not necessarily the tangible value. When we give a CD to a DJ they appreciate it. They listen, criticise constructively, and that resembles the economy of Mozambique as well. If you look at the past ten fifteen years it was the most steady economy on the African continent, growing slowly, 7%, 7.1%, not giving a jump, because that has a price. I am telling you what I see and what I believe in Mozambique, because whatever you see we do it is a reflection of the country as a whole. Art is a reflection of how you live. When you wake up, what you think, what you feel, the positive, the negative the wins the loss, etc etc.

We are very humble. We say lets start small, but very qualitative. That is me and my team. The concept of being poor is relative. So that is what we have been doing. The same with our jazz festival, the more jazz series. Every year I do a live album. We are going into the 6 th edition this year in October.

Is there jazz in Maputo?

That is why I want you to come on April 30 th to see. My big band has got 40 kids, 25 playing saxophones. The music school has got 149 students. We have started a revolution. In ten years time, what is going to happen? Everybody will want a saxophone. With my commercial deals with advertising, I always make sure that I appear on the campaigns with a saxophone. Why? To break the stereotype that the saxophone is this difficult instrument, because the saxophone in the beginning was not friendly like the guitar was friendly, it is common. I appear on television so much that everybody started to look at the saxophone like a normal instrument. This is somehow the economics of jazz. Women don't think … If you see a Lionel Messi, doing an advertising for Gillette, you see after he shaves he kicks a ball. He reminds you always. I must show that this is the tool why I exist. That is what jazz musicians have to do. We have to do brand association. We have to go out there and market ourselves and believe that we can be the face of iphone and apple. Dr Dre has beats by Dre, you can always have, why not? We have to come out of our comfort zone. And that is the things we share with the kids of Mozambique. We have to go and get what belongs to us and show the world that yes we can. And that is why we have this project.

Here we have township jazz?

I am passionate about education because we have to multiply what we are doing. Otherwise it makes no sense. But, we have to make this commercial. I am not saying to compromise your craft. Everything is commercial. The commercial value must be there in order to sustain and in order for musicians not to become prostitutes and compromise their crafts. We have to find a middle ground and the evolution of technology which is another controversial topic will help as well.

How about the traditional music?

Xavala that entire area is now a UNESCO world heritage site, Xavala where the timbila comes from of the Chopi. It is from Mozambique but it belongs to the world now. You go to Ilha de Mozambique in Nampula, it is a world heritage site. First, we have to value ourselves as Africans, but it is important we have this kind of international recognition to boost our self esteem and make it appealing to the world. We want to share this with the world. People today pay thousands and thousands of rands to go and see the colloseums in Greece. People pay thousands of rands to go to Times Square in New York and go to 52 nd avenue and go and see all the jazz clubs, the Blue Notes. People have to pay also to come to South Africa to see and share. That is the commercial I was talking about. They have done it with Mandela, with Robben Island, where people pay thousands of rands to travel and stay in a hotel and go and see where Mandela was. We can do the same for Hugh Masekela, Winston Mankunku and Robbie Jansen. We have to elevate the arts ourselves.

As Maputo develops how do the venues become more active?

Maputo is becoming more cosmopolitan. Maputo is growing, a lot of new buildings in terms of infrastructure. We have the bridge between Maputo and Katembe which is great because people from Durban can drive to Maputo in four hours along the coast. Infrastructure is being put there and infrastructure boosts economics and infrastructure boosts movement of people. You can decide on Friday night to go from Durban to Maputo and vice a versa. We have to believe we are on the right track.

What about your father?

I chose to keep my private life away from public. That is strategical. I am married I have got two daughters. My father passed away. He is a very special person to me and one of the reasons I moved back to Mozambique to support my mum as well. Those things for me I always keep it away because I am every day in the media and the public domain. My ass is always on fire. These things I don't play with and my spirituality. Yes indeed my father is all over one of my biggest influences but me and my team both in Cape Town and Mozambique we separate these things. I would rather talk about our work that we do. Our work is based on people. It is with art, it is with musicians. We work with the band because those people before being soldiers they are people, they have feelings, they are musicians. The work we do with the education department. Education is just a brand but those teachers they are people and vice versa. It is a personal choice. I have learnt that in life that you can't do everything. It is one day at a time and it is better to focus on one thing. I always keep my private life out of my work to protect my family. And it is working. Some people do it the other way round. I have so many things to talk about in my work that I think it is more relevant to share what we are doing about the work. It is choices. We live in a free world. People are free to do what they want.

How is it that the country is so supportive of development?

We force that. Mozambique is a county that is growing. We go and propose. We live in a world made of people. By sharing ideas and by brainstorming we find opportunities and we find gaps. We have to go and try.

How about clean up the beaches campaign?

It is working. I think it will make more sense to talk to you while you are there about that. Like a baby before it walks you need to crawl. It took us as Africans a long time for me and you to sit at this table. You are a white person and me I am a black person, but we are both Africans. We were both patient and finally we sit in public. But now we are not patient with our growth. The United States of America became independent in the 1700's. So don't look at those things and start doing these comparisons. We have to be patient. The same way we were patient to get to where we are at. 50 years ago people didn't dream that me and you would be sitting here in public. Or me Moreira going and studying in Cape Town, that was unheard of. But, we managed. People believed. People had faith, had strength, had strategy. Now we are here and now we don't have patience. There is a positive social consciousness with all citizens about what is the value of a beach, what is the value of not throwing a paper on the floor. But this is a process. But one must not be negative. Constructive criticism is important. For me, I am very patient, this thing does not happen overnight. It takes time. But we are going to focus on this and do it well. If we fail we say sorry, start again and do it till we get it right. And that is going to the young generation. Any young guy, young girl, it is an immediate person, “I want it now.” I was like that too. I am 39, I am still young, but a guy who is 18 wants it now. That is the message we take to the youth, it takes time.

And jazz is good for that

Jazz is the vehicle that we are using to shape people's lives and behaviour. When you come to the jazz day on the 30 th there will be a 15 to 20 minute presentation of judo, martial arts in the garden. I was a junior judo champion when I was 10 11. You as a jazz musician also have to like sports, if you don't do it fanatically you have to support. There will be a stand of a book publisher – books – you have to read. We are part of a global village. You need to eat, you need to smile, you need to read, you need to walk … we are bringing this to the youth, to the kids, because otherwise if we don't do that … that is what I usually say, I am a privileged African. I am privileged and I thank God for that and I thank my parents, I thank my uncles and I thank my friends and I thank you for being to share about this. We are talking about stuff that our continent and the world needs to know. And we do it. If we don't share our success then what are we going to be? This is not a one man show and this we are managing to do with the youth. Showing with true examples in real time and hopefully in 20 – 30 years , when I am 60 we will look back and say you see, this happened. We have to do it. All great nations started like that.

Music in curriculum?

Music is already in curriculum in Mozambique but of course it is a new country and our mission is to show the value of this music. Our mission is to create more teachers. We are a big country. Jazz day is to bring consciousness first that you need to learn an instrument. If you don't, fine but at least appreciate it because the people who appreciate are the people who will buy the art, go to the gallery go to the concert, go and watch a play. If you don't have this kind of sensitivity to culture then what are we?

Is there space for an African curriculum?

We are still in the beginning. We have to give it a chance. We have to acknowledge that music is not a taboo. We have to start somewhere. From there we have to create a sustainable cultural environment that justifies the investment to go further. We have to go step by step. With any kid, the first thing you teach is the rhythm. And then we will get there. We are a new country my friend.

Can Jazz day be Pan African?

Yes it can be linked and to do the links is using technology. Jazz day they are celebrating in Washington. Barack Obama is celebrating at the white house. Washington is the heart of jazz day in the United States. In Maputo we are doing it. If you are doing it in Afghanistan or wherever the biggest link is a spiritual link that you are doing it. UNESCO is promoting that on their website and you have to use technology, via live streaming. The link is spiritual. You need to know at the same time in Mozambique they are also celebrating. We are connecting via facebook twitter. Like New Years eve. They celebrate everywhere.

Looking at the festival?

We haven't made an announcement for this year yet, we are going to do it. Jazz is transversal, it touches everything. John Maclaughlin is not a traditional jazz guitar player. Jazz is the only music genre that touches everything. Jazz accompanies fashion, everything. You have Trilok Gurto from India. Would you ever think there was an Indian guy mixing table with jazz? Never. It is transversal. It touches everything. Would you ever think Erykah Badu would have an influence on jazz? It is the most happening thing.

What about the youth?

We use other vehicles to touch their ego. It is all about the ego for the younger people. We use the mediums to communicate. If you want to take jazz and make a snobbish show they wont come. You have to come to Morejazz and you will see young couples. Even if you are playing the most traditional jazz, the way we brand it is we brand it in a way that is appealing. I want to go there. We have to market jazz like pop without deteriorating the product. We have to be on billboards, we have to be in magazines. We mustn't isolate anyone. 

Moreira Chonguica Interview Maputo 05/02

No man is an island. Are you coming to Cape Town jazz festival – you should. I am launching the new album with Manu Dibangu.

The new album with Manu is a project we decided to make 6 years ago after he participated on my second album citizen of the world. In Paris, Manu helped me to promote the album which he participated on. And then he said we have to do something together. He said listen Fela is gone. The radio station Africa number One was the name of the programme. And he said we need to do something with Mozambique which is South of Cameroon. And we clicked. The millennium gig on Robben island in 2000. Nelson Mandela was still alive. All the top artists went there and that is where I met him in person. I knew him from his craft. He gave me the number for the house and he is a person who speaks to me. We have done an album which we recorded two years ago. We decided to take a few American standards and bring them into our interpretation. Manu Dibangu is 84 today. I am turning 40. Of course we included Soul Makossa on the album, doing a new version and I included a traditional song from Mozambique from the greatest marrabenta composer called Fany Pfumo . The name of the song is Unga Hlupeki. And we mixed with American standards like Night and Day, Take 5, In a sentimental mood. Can you imagine an 82 year old functioning, orchestrating and recording with his band in France at Farber studios. He wanted to make the album very smooth. Finally we are going to launch. And let me tell you, for me. I am crying inside, I am a very blessed guy. We are talking about Manu Dibangu saxophone player. I am a young saxophone player. He is double my age and he has seen everything.

After the CTIJF we come to Maputo on the 3 rd of April but we want to do something different. We don't want to launch the album by playing in Mozambique. There is something that is missing in Africa. It is important to show the men behind the artists. You go to the show fantastic, but who is the man. And future generations need to understand who is that man because when you understand who is that man, you will understand that this guy who his father and mother is, how he grew up and who his brother is. What is music? Music is the reflection of everything else you have been through. It doesn't matter if you live in London, if you live in Istanbul, if you live in Accra, Lagos. What is art? It is the refection of everything. You have this guy Manu Dibangu who left Cameroon when he was 15. Can you imagine how many things this guy has done?

On the 3 rd we are not going to perform. We are going to have chairs and we are going to do a presentation of ourselves and the idea behind the project and later in the year we come and perform. So people get to understand, why Take 5? Soul Makossa what does it mean? And speaking with the people , civil society, artists, journalists and we document that. That is our contribution to Africa; that is how it has to be done. We document this because the younger generation needs to have this information. Today with mobile technology and social media we have to spread this information because this is the only way we are going to preserve and share this information. There are so many distractions in this world. Some guys are watching the game tonight. Some guys are at marrabenta festival. Some guys are on the beach. It is our responsibility to contribute to people like you, because I don't look at you as a journalist, I look at you as a researcher.

I am very happy that we are presenting this project in Africa first, CTIJF, the fourth biggest festival in the world and a home to me as well. It is a project that we are getting requests all over the world …

And that is why I go back to Manu Dibangu. We are not kids, we don't exist. We are meaningless. When you talk about Fela, Manu, Baaba Maal, Papa Noel, Papa Wemba, Mahotella Queens, we are nothing. Some of them were there for a short period of time but the impact that they caused continues to this day.


I am glad you came because you saw the posh show at Polano and then you came to the show at the Port where you saw the Khanimambo guys and then you saw Omar Sosa, which is not your typical conventional jazz musician that you are used to, you felt jazz but you felt a spiritual kind of scale and then you saw Susana Stivali, Ildo Nandjo and then the Morejazz big band. We are nobody's.

We are only going to be people if we respect people. We are only going to respect people if we respect heritage. We are only going to respect heritage if we embrace culture.

The continent of Africa where we live, we are the shit! It is our responsibility to say to the world that we matter, not with words, but with actions.

Brazil, Cuba, Portugal?

My mission, we are the researchers. We get to the see and we go and fish and sometimes we don't get fish. We get crab, we get prawns, but we have to show and share. We don't follow fashion. If we have 10 people in the audience it is about introducing 10 people to new concepts of life. I am this because of my family and my parents that got to introduce me to new things in life, and showed me that you do not have to put limitations into your tastes. We are citizens of this world. And this world belongs to us but the African continent hasn't started yet. We are starting. This is like those big planes the A380s that are taking off, but it is not enough. We have to do it, we have to deliver, we have to take risks. And to take risks we have to know how to fail. And to fail we have to learn it is a mistake and when we learn it is a mistake we won't do it again.

What improvements?

This year will be very interesting at the end of October. Morejazz is a lifestyle programme that goes beyond the concert. The first show is on the 27 th but the entire month of October is jazz. We have different activities from seminars to concerts, movies, different activities. We have to try and get the attention of the private sector, because those are expensive projects to make. The same happens in April with jazz day. April is a month of jazz where we try through our machinery to share with people about jazz education. That is why when Manu Dibangu comes, on the 3 rd of April it is a kick start of a new project where we talk about jazz. But we don't talk about jazz in a book, we talk about jazz with a legend. It is a conversation where people can come and find the CD and we talk about the song and we play it. This is the way we are going to show the metamorphosis that the human beings are affected by. We all change. We are open, we are dynamic, not static. In Mozambique, the time is right. There are 3000 km of coast and my job is to make people's lives more complex. I am not in the business of making people's lives easy. I am in the business of making people's lives more complex, where people question more. If you start giving people everything they know already there is no evolution. There is no development and no thinking further.

Africa, Mozambique, it is a global village. And we have to be part of it. Number 1 what we do with the department of education is every week I go to a different school with a trio and I speak to people about jazz. I speak with education as part of it and I show them Thelonious Monk Institute of jazz, I speak about UCT, Wits, FUBA. It is important for people who see a Judith or Selaelo today and know where they come from. This is leading into the concert on the 30 th which is jazz day. We are going to the Radisson hotel. It is a free concert. Throughout the month we move around and I take some of the boys from Morejazz big band. You make music for money, for therapy to make you feel good. When architects design they listen to music, when writers write they need other types of music. And silence is music too and you can listen to the music of nature.

Morejazz in October is also social but we need to bring the private sector to understand how important this tool is, so we can sustain. Morejazz we are in our 7 th year. In my short experience of this business I am honoured to say I have played with the best in the world and the best in Africa. You can play for 100 000 tomorrow and the next day be forgotten. Morejazz is like that. Values are important.

Legends programme?

In a way what we are trying to do. And you should be the link for that. Most of the musicians are good friends of mine. It is beyond making money, it is about making history. And it is about us influencing the new generation. The idea is not for people to play jazz or people to listen to jazz. The idea is to make this city a safe city, a super city, an ambitious city, a fashionable city. There are different tools to do that. Jazz is one of them.

Private sector?

If that is the price, let it be you create awareness for the locals that they have to support. If that happens to AZGO, good for Azgo to show that if you don't appreciate me, someone is appreciating me. And it shows that Mozambique does not belong to Mozambicans. No, no country belongs to its own people. We belong to the world. And I am happy for Azgo for that because then it puts pressure on the local brands to be more sensitive about it.

I am Mozambican but it is important to have an eye from outside. Maybe that is an extra book. We are going to do many books, a book on your perspective.

Beira National festival?

Festival Nacional de Cultura is a festival that enhances and shows all that Mozambique has to its pureness without adulteration, from dance to music, astronomy, etc etc. It happened last year in Beira Sofala. I went there. And I want to do something better. We went to the universities and talked to the students. It is every second year in August. I am not sure which province it is in next year. You will see the real country and you will understand the whole centralised thing in Maputo with 16 years of civil war. You will understand that.


We are doing something for next year with Valencia's family.

And the other thing is education. We need to educate people. Because that is what music does. Moreira Chonguica and all projects associated is to make Mozambique fashionable, that you want to visit all the time like Cape Town, Durban. There is a structure. If you want to talk about cultural tourism. These events are made by Mozambicans for the world. We have to show our kids that there is a world. Beside being multi cultural and multi racial, we are open to the world, without jeopardising what we have. That will contribute to the GDP of this country. The economic factor will come like that. Our business is beyond us because there is something bigger than us. Not jazz, jazz is the smallest thing. Mozambique is bigger than us, Africa is bigger than us – the rest is semantics.

(Banco Comercial e de Investimentos) and Jeep Mozambique (through their distribution company Entreposto) have seen enormous value to their brands with their association with Moreira over the last few years.

Both are not merely sponsorships but partnerships where Moreira conceptualises with their marketing departments and their advertising agencies to come up with new ideas which will enhance all the brands.  Because of Moreira's strong social responsibility drive, he is able to channel the brands to areas that they were not aware.  For BCI, he was able to introduce them to the Sensation HIV/Aids project which saw them donate small libraries of books to the winners. At International Jazz Day, BCI gave away bicycles to winning audience members and they opened up bank accounts for all the members of the Morejazz Big Band and put a small amount into each one.  

Jeep has found the Morejazz association very valuable even in difficult trading times and have been very creative with branding the vehicles in attractive and innovative ways that attract maximum attention.  Their advertising campaigns have also been very innovative.  Because of the Morejazz association with the Polana Serena Hotel, they provided a branded jeep for hotel transfers exclusively for hotel guests for the whole month of October.

Social media did plays a big role in the Morejazz Series in addition to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, we made extensive use of Whats app in advising the contact lists of all those involved in the production of posters, photographs, info, tickets and it really seemed to work.  Contacts think that it is personalised information which was well responded to.

It also helps to have artists on the bill who also have social media accounts that are active so there was a lot of activity.

Morejazz is a jazz festival at the moment held in Maputo and hopefully in other towns in the future. Jazz is a popular genre but by no means the only one in Mozambique so what is important is that we consistently try and find Mozambican jazz artists at the right standard and give them a platform to perform on a world class stage. 

© 2018 African music, writing, philosophy and multi-media creations Struan Douglas
kindly to support the cost of travel and cultural exchange