Dancing with the Diaspora

Magical Mozambique

The tropical 3000km coastline of Mozambique has always attracted many visitors. Ilha de Mozambique in Nampula in the North is a world heritage site documenting the early meeting of Arab and African culture and trade. The Portuguese colonialists made Maputo (Lourenço Marques) the capital city and contributed to the Mediterranean café esplanades and art-deco architecture. And today the Chinese are making strong infrastructure investments, including a cultural centre.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.

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

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.

Chopi musicians by Hugh Tracey

“I have devoted most of my holidays from official duties to visiting those areas where the Chopi are to be found, and taking notes in the hope of learning all I could before making gramophone records.” Chopi play large orchestras of Timbila orchestras and orchestral dances called Mijodo. A Ngodo is an orchestral dance in 9 to 11 movements. “They speak with one voice and move with one spirit by mystical participation in the compelling music.” … “The orchestral ground is developed by the composer himself and by his fellow musicians as they play. The composition becomes communal with the players of the various pitches of Timbila (treble, alto, tenor, base and double bass) improving their own parts. They all conform to the master pattern set by the composer.

Southern Mozambique 1943 – 63: Music of Chopi, Gitonga, Bonga, Tswa, Tsonga, Sena, Nyungwe and Ndau

Opening track features young girls on gourd flutes (ocarinas) recorded in the Quissoca District. “These ocarinas are made from the hard spherical flute of the mutamba orange tree and have 3 holes, one for blowing and 2 for fingering. Notes can also be easily lipped down in pitch. Small girls from 5 or 6 start to play these home-made 3 note instruments for amusement, usually in duet with one chigowilo, always smaller, thus higher pitched.” On track 3 we hear 13 xylophones led by Shambini, recorded at Quissoco. Mtsitso are introductory movements played by the orchestra alone, without song or dance, before the dancers enter. On track 7 we hear the mzeno movement from the timbila dance, it is considered to be the climax. Hugh Tracey notes, “Komakomu's sparkling playing style is in evidence, playing kudala, single note melody on the high notes, or doubling the song in octaves.” On tracsk 8 to 10 we heard mandowa dance played on mbira recorded at Nova Mambone District. The mandowa acrobatic tumbling dance uses four drums. On track 16 we hear the music of the Tswa people, who live North of the Chopi and play an almost identical xylophone called muhambi. On track 19 we hear the hexatonic mbira performed by Jose Machokole, from Save River Mozambique. This is one of the very few African mbiras with 3 ranks or manuals of keys and a 3 octave range, played with 2 fingers and 2 thumbs…


Inhambane on the coast of Mozambique is the most visited province in the country with one million visitors annually, lured primarily by the pristine oceans and the resident marine megafauna in the oceans of Tofo.

Tofo, situated 450 kilometres up the North coast of Mozambique can be accessed by road from Maputo with a daily bus, or the international airport in the nearby town Inhambane. An enormous number of visitors from all over the world come to Tofo to scuba, snorkel and swim with the unique underwater creatures

One of the longest running business in Tofo, Fatima's Nest which has been bringing visitors to the area since 1989, contributes directly to social upliftment through developing talent and supporting local orphanages and old age homes.

The indigenous people of that region are the Chopi people. Their cultural expression – the timbila musical instrument – is an iconic symbol representing all of Mozambique.

Interview with director of the casa de cultuur in Ihambane, Abel Afonso Manga.

Here in Ihambane we have various tourist activities for instance culture, dancing, the Timbila as our cultural heitrage and many tourists come to see how we make the timbila and visit Zavala to witness that.

A large part of tourism is around the beaches. We have Tofo, Praiaa de Barra, Vilankulos – it's a big tourist destination this province.

To expand tourism there are some provincial bodies, like the Casa de Culturo which organises various events – we have the Timbila Festival, which we hold at the end of the August, the Festival is in Zavala and a big festival that a lot of tourists go to see. The festival in Tofo which attracts a lot of toursists to explore the gastronomy, traditional dance, local music – those are the big festivals we have in Inhambane – but we also have smaller ones in our districts. – in Vilanculos, the Beach Fest – these attract tourists, and causes them to return again. They make this an attractive destination.

Chopi festival august.

For the Timbila festival in Zavala there is an association that is responsible for working wit the professionals from the ministry of culture, to direct and run it – the ministry also sponsors the festival to help the association to capitalise on it.

Tourism and businesses are working together. We are holding art exhibitions … it helps them to sell, and there are various other benefits including training of local people.

Annual Timbila festivals takes place at the end of August in Zavala district, a Unesco world heritage site. Timbila is supported by Gil Vicente live music venue and the One Ocean New Years music festival in Tofo which opens and closes with the traditional music of the region.

The hospitality industry is also a fast developing sector providing extensive opportunity and employment. Delicious seafood, ice cold local beer, an abundance of cashews and coconuts, warm ocean and fine weather year round (other than cyclone Dineo which hit the coast on February 15 th ) are the makings of a paradise beach experience for anyone.







Music of the Maputo province

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.



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.


A body of recordings were made at the Cape Town Maputo festival. Chico Antonio blessed us with his natural ability. Isaq Matuz, the blind jewel of XaiXai performed alongside Zolani Mahola. He brought such Love from so far. Halleluiyah.  2003 Afribeat together with Distel hosted The Cape Town Maputo festival in the OudeLibertas ampitheate in Cape Town

Romane Guambe & utabula na mani zunguza vafana : new album release







afribeat.com content portal : quote the source
kindly to support the cost of travel and cultural exchange