From The Hippo’s Ears: Mozambique
Facts you may not have know about Mozambique:
Mozambique, officially the Republic of Mozambique, is a country in Southeast Africa. The capital of Mozambique is Maputo (formerly known as “Lourenço Marques” from 1876 to 1976). Mozambique is a member of the United Nations, the African Union, the Commonwealth of Nations, the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation, the Community of Portuguese Language Countries, the Non-Aligned Movement and the Southern African Development Community, and is an observer at La Francophonie.
Mozambique has a population of approximately 28 million, is a Unitary, dominant-party, semi-presidential, constitutional republic, and gained independence from Portugal in 1975.
1. When you first meet someone, how do you greet them?
The common Portuguese greeting is “Olá” (hello), “Como estás?” (how are you?) It is also common to greet by saying “Bom dia” (good morning), “Boa tarde” (good afternoon), or “Boa noite” (good night), depending on the time of day.
2. What languages are spoken in the country?
The only official language of Mozambique is Portuguese, which is spoken mostly as a second language by about half the population. Common native languages include Makhuwa, Sena, and Swahili. Most Mozambicans living in the cities speak Portuguese as their first language. Makhuwa is spoken at home by the largest percentage of the population.
3. Do you use a twelve hour clock, or a twenty-four hour clock?
We use a 24-hour system.
4. What side of the road do people drive on? What do we need to know about driving in the country?
We drive on the left side of road. There are over 30,000 km of roads, but much of the network is unpaved.
5. How important is punctuality?
Punctuality is not a very important part of local culture, and people may arrive late for events.
6. Which types of music are popular? Who are some of the most popular musicians?
The music of Mozambique serves many purposes, ranging from religious expression to traditional ceremonies. Musical instruments are usually handmade. Some of the instruments used in Mozambican musical expression include drums made of wood and animal skin; the lupembe, a woodwind instrument made from animal horns or wood; and the marimba, which is a kind of xylophone native to Mozambique and other parts of Africa.
Mozambique’s own music is similar to reggae and West Indian calypso. Other music types are popular in Mozambique like marrabenta, kwaito, afrobeat and other Lusophone music forms like fado, bossa nova, kizomba and semba.
For a taste of Namibian music, listen to Lizha James’ Mutxangana, and Stewart Sukuma’s Xitchuketa Marrabenta.
7. Are there any Traditional Dances?
There are over 1000 traditional dances in Mozambique, each region, each village has their own traditions and variations of different rhythms and dances. There can be dances symbolising celebration, war, love or harvesting, however, today variations of the dances are mainly used as an individual expression or to represent the rich Mozambican culture at events. Watch some examples of traditional local dance here.
8. What traditional Festivals are celebrated in the country?
AZGO Festival in Maputo
This is an annual international music festival which takes place over 3 days in the outdoors. It includes a variety of bands, music documentaries, and workshops. Additional facilities include a food court and restaurants, stalls for food and drink as well as designer fashion, merchandising and crafts.
STRAB Festival in Ponta Malongane
STRAB is the abbreviation for the Subterranean Rhythm & Blues experience, an annual music festival which started out as live entertainment for a birthday bash held by a group of scuba divers in 2003. It has grown over the years and now features about 20 live bands. Since 2008 STRAB has continued to provide exposure to bands from rock to blues to jazz to fusions of these.
Independence Day Festivities in Maputo
Independence Day is celebrated in June. The festivities include live performances and traditional dancing. The national stadium is the venue for a fantastic concert during which many celebrated Mozambique bands perform. The President often attends and addresses the attendees. Many cultural events such as poetry, dancing and visual arts take place the week before.
TAMBO International Art Camp/Festival in Pemba
The city of Pemba hosts this colourful festival that celebrates cultural diversity through art, dance, theatre and music performances. Visitors will enjoy 7 days in which to make art, exchange ideas and enjoy various kinds of workshops. There will be live performances and opportunities to interact with traditional artists from Pemba and other parts of the world.
9. What are the seasons like?
Mozambique has a tropical climate with two seasons, a wet season from October to March and a dry season from April to September. Climatic conditions vary depending on altitude. Rainfall is heavy along the coast and decreases in the north and south. Average temperature ranges in Maputo are from 13 to 24 °C (55.4 to 75.2 °F) in July (winter) to 22 to 31 °C (71.6 to 87.8 °F) in February (summer). Cyclones are common during the wet season.
10. What are some interesting facts about the President?
President Filipe Jacinto Nyusi has served as Mozambique’s fourth President, in office since 2015. He previously served as Minister of Defence from 2008 to 2014. President Nyusi has also served on the board of directors of the state-owned Mozambique Ports and Railways authority (CFM), and as president of Clube Ferroviário de Nampula, a top-division football club based in Nampula. He has a mechanical engineering degree from Brno University of Technology in Czechoslovakia, and a postgraduate degree management from the Victoria University of Manchester in England.
Nyusi is a member of the Makonde ethnic community. He is married to Isaura Nyusi, and has four children.
11. What are the country’s major industries?
The largest economic sectors are gas and oil, agriculture, forestry, mining, manufacturing, and tourism. Mozambique’s main exports include unwrought aluminum, tobacco, electricity, hydrocarbons nuts, seeds, and sugar cane.
12. How do people spend their free time?
Locals spend their free time watching popular sports, such as football and rink hockey, as well as trying out new restaurants and bars with family and friends.
13. What is a popular local drink?
Aside from the widely served Mozambican tea, known as Cha, and coffee, locally brewed beer made from maize is also very much enjoyed by people of Mozambique. Madeira, a Portuguese wine, is also popular in Mozambique.
14. What is a popular local dish?
The staple food for many Mozambicans is ncima, a thick porridge made from maize/corn flour. Cassava and rice are also eaten as staple carbohydrates. All of these are served with sauces of vegetables, meat, beans or fish. Other typical ingredients include cashew nuts, onions, bay leaves, garlic, coriander, paprika, pepper, red pepper, sugar cane, corn, millet, sorghum and potatoes.
15. What do you pay, on average, for the following? (1 USD = approx. MZN 61)
3 Course meal: MZN 1,100
Domestic beer (500ml): MZN 60
Cup of coffee: MZN 108
Coca cola (330ml): MZN 50
Milk (1l): MZN 92
Loaf of white bread: MZN 50
Apples (1 kg): MZN 125
Water (1.5l):MZN 52
16. Any general safety tips?
Although Mozambique does not pose a high crime rate, safety is still important when travelling. Remember to lock all your car doors when you leave your vehicle. Keep all valuables in a safe place when you leave the premises you are staying at. When site seeing and touring, make sure to keep the valuables you are carrying close by. Be careful of sharks when swimming in the sea, as there may not be nets. Do not go off the beaten track as Mozambique is known to have undetected landmines from its past civil war in isolated areas. Some areas may have restrictions on photography.
17. In conclusion, famous (and sometimes infamous) people from the country include:
- Samora Machel, a Mozambican military commander, politician and revolutionary. A socialist in the tradition of Marxism–Leninism, he served as the first President of Mozambique from the country’s independence in 1975.
- Graça Machel, a Mozambican politician and humanitarian. Machel is a member of the Africa Progress Panel, is an international advocate for women’s and children’s rights, and was made an honorary British Dame by Queen Elizabeth II in 1997 for her humanitarian work.
- Mia Couto, a Mozambican writer. He won the Camões Prize in 2013, the most important literary award in the Portuguese language, and the Neustadt International Prize for Literature in 2014.
- Maria Mutola, a retired female track and field athlete from Mozambique who specialised in the 800 metres running event. She is only the fourth athlete to compete at six Olympic Games. She is a three-time world champion in this event and a one-time Olympic champion.
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