Africa

Mozambique Arts and Culture

CULTURE: GENERAL INFORMATION

Mozambique’s artistic traditions are rich and very alive, despite decades of colonialism and civil war. Traditional music is called marrabenta; typical instruments are wind instruments (lupembe) and a sort of xylophone (timbila). One of the best known traditional dances of the Ihla de Mozambique and the north coast is the tuff. It is a slow dance of Arab origin, usually performed only by women. Among the dances performed with masks, the one of the makonde called mapiko is particularly famous; a man with a giant mask and completely hidden by fabrics represents a dead man who returns to the world of the living to scare women and children. The dance is performed following a particular rhythm beaten on traditional drums. Mozambican cuisine mixes Portuguese, African and Indian contributions; cassava accompanies excellent fish: a local specialty is in fact matapa, cassava seasoned with peanut sauce that accompanies prawns. The only UNESCO World Heritage Site is the Ihla de Mozambique (2001): here stands the fortified city of the same name, dating back to the 16th century, an ancient Portuguese stop on the route to India. Visit ask4beauty for Mozambique a paradise on the rise.

CULTURE: LITERATURE

The literary movement follows the formation and evolution of an ethnic and national consciousness. In the 1930s, the poet Rui de Noronha (1909-1943) timidly expressed the conflicts aroused by the colonial situation, but, despite his faith in the awakening of Africa, he was still far from a complete identification with his people. It came about later, after the journalists Joao Albasini and Estácio Dias, founders of the African weekly Obrado (The African cry), realized a greater awareness of the problems of blacks in colonial society. Towards the fifties, a group of students and intellectuals, which was headed by the “Center for African Studies” in Lisbon, published a Notebook of black poetry of Portuguese expression (1953), reacting against the Lusitanian image of the “black man”, and was moving towards national affirmation. These are José Craveirinha (1922-2003), Marcelino dos Santos (b. 1929) and Noémia de Sousa (1926-2002), whose protest poem sang the daily life and deeds of Africans. Around the same time, Joao Dias (1926-1949) reveals a high-level narrative talent and a yearning for justice and freedom in an extraordinary book of short stories, Godido e outros contos (1952). In the 1960s, some white writers, such as the poets Rui Knopfli (1932-1997), Virgílio de Lemos (b.1929) and Rui Nogar (1932-1993), sympathized with the cause of blacks and tended to create a national literature, with own themes and styles, which appeal to spoken language. The literature highlights social protest and nationalistic claims. Various writers face jail or choose exile. The rejection of the colonial system appears in the work of the best Mozambican prose writer, LB Honwana (b.1942), with the novel Nos Matámos or Cao Tinhoso (1964; We killed the mangy dog) and Orlando Mendes (1916-1990). Poetry welcomes the rhythms of popular melodies and often appeals to the fraternity of the struggle. It becomes more and more political, militant, when, in 1961, the armed struggle resumes. Sérgio Vieira (b.1941), Jorge Rebelo (b.1940) and Armando Guebusa (b.1944) exalt the struggle and realize the coincidence of the nationalist commitment with the poetic one. It is a poem of circumstance, which nevertheless creates a new language by introducing the rhythms of African languages ​​into the Portuguese structures. After independence, literature underwent new influences (Brazilian and Angolan writers), it mainly dealt with the theme of the anti-colonial war but also described everyday life. Around the literary magazine Charrua (Plow) younger writers meet who, despite not having known the guerrilla, follow its ideological line. In addition to the already known poets, we mention LC Patraquim, H. Muteia, B. Nuno, A. Artur, J. Bucane, E. White. Among the narrators emerged Mia (António Emílio Leite) Couto (b. 1955), who dominates the literary circles of the country; among his works also translated into Italian, Terra soñambula (1992; Terra sonnambula), Um rio chamado tempo, uma casa chamada terra (2002; A river called time, a house called earth). Another writer who fully fits into the postcolonial wave is Ungulani Ba Ka Khosa (b.1957), who became famous with his first work Ualalapi (1987). Important poets are instead Eduardo White (b.1963) and Heliodoro Baptista (b.1944). Among the female figures stand out Lilia Momplé (b.1935), and Paulina Chiziane (b.1955), who with her novel Balada de Amor ao Vento, released in 1990, was the first Mozambican writer to publish a book.

CULTURE: ART

The best artistic production is due to the northernmost of the three great ethnographic areas in which Mozambique can be divided, and in particular to the makonde. Makonde sculptors tend to accentuate the naturalistic style of their masks and statuettes, with a characteristic ability to sensually render human flesh. In the female statuettes, which in the past certainly had cultic functions, the tattoos and the typical plate inserted in the lower lip are reproduced. In the southern part of the country, sandalwood is used for sculptures. Linked to contemporary art is the sculptor R. Nkatunga (b. 1951), whose works testify to different aspects of rural life. The most famous Mozambican artist, known internationally, is Malangatana Valente Ngwenya (b.1936), commonly known only as Malangatana; famous mainly for his paintings, he has also dedicated himself to sculpture and painting of murals.

Mozambique Arts