I expected Maputo to be a dusty, jam-packed metropolis, but on a rainy Sunday afternoon it was rather green and uncrowded. Palm trees lined the road that runs along the harbor, some sporting flags for Filipe Nyusi, presidential candidate of the ruling Frelimo party. He will be Mozambique’s next president if everyone can agree on the results of the October 15th election and its irregularities.
On the main strip downtown, there were only about a dozen vendors selling fish and drinks. We walked through the red light district, where most of the buildings serve alcohol, women, or privacy for encounters involving the above.
Several cranes were at work on schizophrenic construction as China and the West invest. It seems business is finally satisfied with stability in Mozambique after their fifteen-year civil war ended in 1992, although most buildings remain derelict.
In the foreground of the photo above you can see one of the crosses the Portuguese planted on their forts around Africa in the days when it took two years for merchant vessels to sail to India. The building in front will be a car park.
Before the Portuguese arrived on the scene, modern-day Mozambique was divided by many languages and warring tribes. At first the Portuguese sought only business arrangements to barter goods as they made the two-year voyage around the Cape of Good Hope to India. Soon, however, they sought political control.
Many tribal leaders chose to accept Portuguese control of their territories in exchange for some benefits. The Gaza empire, however, fought back. Here is their emperor and his two favorite wives at the moment of defeat as depicted by sculptor Leopol o de Almeida.
The silver lining, our guide says, is that the Portuguese left behind a common language. At the very least, this forcibly-unified country can speak Portuguese together.