OIC TODAY
SUBSCRIBE
NOW
Mozambique A Kaleidoscope of Beauty and Culture

Saint-Martin A view of Maputo. Photo: Macauhub

INTRODUCTION

The East African nation recently celebrated gaining independence on 25 June 1975. The Portuguese ruled in Mozambique for 500 years and beginning in 1964 the revolutionary army began to fight for independence. It would be several years before a peace agreement would take place and independence would be gained. Celebrations include typical parades with dancing, music and festivities.

The Flag

The flag of Mozambique, adopted in 1983, consists of five colours and four symbols, all with a meaning and history. There are four horizontal bands and a triangle on the left border. The green colour represents the lush and fertile land of the country. The red colour symbolises the people’s struggle for Independence against the Portuguese. The yellow represents the lands abundance in natural minerals, such as aluminum, gold, iron, steel, niobium, tantalum, cement, clays, titanium, zirconium, coal, uranium, natural gas and gemstones. The white represents peace and the black colour represents the continent of Africa.

The country’s emblem is displayed on the red triangle. Mozambique is the only country that has a modern weapon displayed on their flag. The emblem consists of a hoe which represents agriculture, a book which represents education and an AK-47 assault rifle which represents defense. All of these are overlaying the star of Marxism. The colours and symbols are closely connected to the original flag of independence and the Mozambican Liberation Front (FRELIMO) which was the revolutionary army that won independence for the country and is still the ruling party today. There has been controversy surrounding the rifle on the flag with some calling for its removal arguing that it represents violence and war.

REPUBLIC OF MOZAMBIQUE

Capital Maputo
Population 27.98 million (2015)
Area 799,384 km2
Major Language (s) Portuguese
Major Religion (s) Roman Catholic and Islam
Life Expectancy Male:56.81 Years ; Female:54.00 Years
Currency Metical (MZM)
Literacy Rate Youth :76.75 % ; Adult : 58.84 %
GDP Per Capita USD 529.21 (2015)

Culture and People

There are as many as 60 different ethnic groups in Mozambique, and nine major ones such as Makua, Thonga, Shona/Ndau, Sena, Nyungwe and Yao. The Swahili culture and languages were influenced by Arab traders that travelled through the country centuries ago. There are also many dialects spoken and although Portuguese is the official language people grow up speaking their native language. Portuguese is used in education, business and government and must be learned in school by children. Due to the low school attendance more than half of the population can’t speak Portuguese. Currently, at least 45% of the population is under the age of 15.

Swazi dance - Mozambique Swazi dance - Mozambique

Cultural identity and diversity can be seen in the way people dress. In the cities, Western-style suits are the popular choice for men and women wear Western-style dresses made from brightly-coloured fabric with traditional African patterns. Commonly, in the rest of the country the traditional the male loincloth has been replaced with T-shirts and dashikis. Women in rural areas have been keener to keep their traditional garb which involves taking one long strips of fabric and wrapping it around the body, under the arms and then over one shoulder. Rural women have also retained the traditional head scarf or turban. Young people almost entirely wear Western style clothing, except for the extremely poor. Muslims in the north wear traditional long white robes and dresses and head coverings.

The typical family unit includes multiple generations living together in one home. This traditional familial structure has been somewhat uprooted by the civil war, which caused huge loss of life and forced many others to move, often times splitting up families and leaving children abandoned. North of the Zambezi River people and tribes follow a matrilineal code of inheritance and ancestry. Family roots are traced through the mother’s side, and at marriage the man becomes part of the woman’s family. South of the Zambezi River, the code is patrilineal. South of the Zambezi River and the family’s root are traced through the men and fathers of the family. Children, especially infants, are rarely separated from their mothers. In rural areas, babies are often strapped to their mothers’ backs as they work in the fields.

Geography and Environment

Mozambique expands along the southeast of the Africa continent for 2,470km. The total area of the country is 799,509 square kilometers. It is bordered by six countries while it is also a coastal nation. Tanzania is to the north; Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe to the west; and South Africa and Swaziland to the south. There are more than 25 rivers in the country’s low-plateau terrain. Most notable is the largest river, The Zambezi, which provides access to central Africa. The Zambezi River is an important natural resource, supplying power through the Cahora Bassa dam, one of Africa’s largest hydroelectric projects. The direction that the Zambezi flows cuts the country into northern and southern regions that diverge in terms of geography and to some degree culture, climate and history too. The terrain also ranges from mountain ranges and jungles to swamps and beaches. It is incredibly diverse.

mozambique-gaborone Mozambique

The two main seasons are the wet season from November to March and the dry season from April to October. Drought is not uncommon, especially in the southern regions. The country also has been prone catastrophic floods, the last one being in 1999. Mozambique hosts an abundant diversity of animal life, such as zebras, water buffalo, elephants, giraffes, lions, hippopotami and crocodiles. There are established national parks and game reserves throughout the country where these animals are protected in their natural environment.

Mozambique’s capital, Maputo, is in the coastal south region. It is a port city known as The City of Acacias due to the many Acacia trees that line the streets. The city has a relatively dry tropical savannah climate and a population of 1,257,500 out of a national population of almost 28 million. Among other things, Maputo boasts one of the first electric tramway systems in Africa, beginning in 1904. In this diverse city Bantu, Portuguese, Arab, Indian and Chinese culture are all seen.

Economy

At the time of independence in 1975, Mozambique was one of the most impoverished countries in the world. Unsuitable policies, economic negligence and a vicious civil war, lasting from 1977 to 1992, devastated the country. In 1987, the government carried out a set of economic reforms to stabilise the country. These steps, along with other crucial contributing factors such as donor assistance and political stability through the multi-party elections, advanced the country’s GDP from $4 billion in 1993 to approximately $35 billion in 2016.

Unfortunately, even after this impressive progress more than 50% of the population live below the poverty line. Agriculture continues to be the main form of income for the majority of the people and employs the vast majority of the country’s work force. Skilled workers such as teachers, doctors and lawyers make up a small percentage and are focused in the capital. The capital of Maputo manufactures cement, pottery, furniture, shoes and rubber. The main exports leaving this port city are cotton, sugar, chromite, sisal and copra. Coastal fishing also accounts for one third of the country’s exports, particularly shrimp and mackerel. Mining and manufacturing are moderate industries producing: coal, limestone, salt, beryllium, gold, copper, uranium, diamonds and iron. The main manufactures are textiles, food and beverages, glass, and plastics. The main exports are primarily shipped to Spain, the US, Japan and Portugal. The main imports of petroleum, food and machinery arrive from South Africa, the US, Portugal and Italy. The country continues to experience severe trade imbalance.

Market in Mozambique Market in Mozambique

Following riots in 2010 about increased taxes on things like electricity and food the government implemented subsidies, decreased taxes and tariffs and instituted other fiscal measures. This has lessened the burden on the people to some extent.

One economic barrier remains the imbalance in trade, although aluminium production from the Mozal Aluminium Smelter has significantly raised export earnings recently. Five years ago the Mozambican Government began maintaining Portugal’s last remaining share in the Cahora Bassa Hydroelectricity Company. The government has plans to expand the Cahora Bassa Dam and build additional dams to increase its electricity exports to meet the needs of its domestic industries.

Attractions

mozambique-tourist-attractions Mozambique Tourist Attractions

Mozambique offers an unlimited array of activities for travelers of all types. From wildlife and nature to history and culture, the nation boasts impressive and interesting sites around the whole country. To the north lies the The Quirimbas Archipelago, a collection of 32 stunning islands. There is also the oldest and still-standing fort in Sub-Saharan Africa, Fort of São Sebastião. In northeast Mozambique is Mt Namúli standing at 2419m. In central Mozambique there is the Gorongosa National Park which is 400km of preserved land and protected wildlife, Catapu Forest Reserve and Macuti Beach. To the south is Maputo, the hub for art and city culture. There you can find the National Art Museum, the famed and historical train station, the Chissano Gallery which shows works of renowned sculptor Alberto Chissano and the home of the cultural fusion of dance, music and art, the Centro Cultural Franco- Moçambicano.