Transforming lives on four continents

This blog on Mozambique’s capital will leave you wishing you were there right now

Discover Maputo through the eyes of our mission worker.

BMS worker Damien Miller
Fond of travel books? Damien Miller, a BMS World 
Mission worker in Mozambique, is as well. But when he read one author’s description of African cities, he was inspired to show the world a different picture: one of vibrancy, life, beauty and history. 
 
A picture of Maputo.
 

"my feeling was one of having spied the surface level of a city with much greater depth and complexity"

 
“When you go from one African city to another you just find an urban sprawl. What’s the point of being there?” Paul Theroux is an accomplished travel writer and one of my favourite authors but on this point he and I disagree. I live in Beira, a city characterised by remnants of art-deco architecture, the monumental husk of the grand hotel, a dhow-dotted beach overlooked by the red and white column of Macuti lighthouse and multi-funnelled fleets filing in and out of Mozambique’s busiest port. 
 

"I quickly purchased a batique to escape this textile rendered Hitchcockian nightmare" 

 
When I travelled to the capital city of Maputo for the Mozambique Association of Christian Lawyers (AMAC) annual general meeting last week, I realised it was quite something else. Fleeing the airport by taxi, I immediately encountered a large mural-adorned wall portraying a history of the struggles and victories of Mozambique. This was the work of Malangatana, an artist whose phantasmagoric figures are imitated by the countless carvings and paintings available in the city’s craft markets. 
 
Mural by Malangatana
 
Our taxi progressed along broad avenues lined with acacias, their pods and prickles punctuated by the occasional purple-hued jacaranda tree. These shady streets have earned Maputo the moniker ‘city of acacias’. Surrounding them, faded Portuguese-era buildings endure next to angular socialist-style tower blocks. The city’s distinct character was evident before I had even uttered one word to anyone from Maputo.
 
Acacias
 
When I did begin talking with people I was impressed by their friendly and direct demeanour, although at times I was left disorientated. Early on I was caught out at the craft market at the Parque dos Continuadores. Having lingered too long in front of a colourful batique showing two guinea fowl against a sunset, I was then pursued by a crowd of vendors, their arms overflowing with guinea fowl related art. White spots on black surrounded me. Fabric birds were thrust back and forth and I quickly purchased a batique to escape this textile rendered Hitchcockian nightmare.
 
A wall of batiques
 
Further conversations revealed that a great many of those living in Maputo have migrated from other parts of Mozambique, and I spoke to several who hailed from Beira and its surrounds. By the time I was due to leave Maputo, my feeling was one of having spied the surface level of a city with much greater depth and complexity. My interest was piqued, and I look forward to returning to Maputo again in the near future. 
 

“Surrounding them, faded Portuguese-era buildings endure next to angular socialist-style tower blocks”

 
I will therefore end with a riposte to the aforementioned travel writer. The point of being in African cities, Mr Theroux, is to remain long enough to recognise their inherent diversity and distinct identity, you might then discover your life has become a little richer for the stay.
 
 
Discover more about beautiful Mozambique by reading the country close-up and pray for the biblical justice work being done by BMS mission workers there. 
 
Become a 24:7 Partner to support Damien Miller and give today to support AMAC’s work in Mozambique. 
 
Photo licenses: acacis, batiques
 
23/10/2014

 

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