Maputo, formerly Portuguese-ruled Lourenço Marques, is the laid-back capital, an incongruous mix of palm-lined streets, an elegant promenade with ritzy villas, and once-grand colonial buildings—which often sit side-by-side with shanties and concrete, Soviet-style buildings dating back to the 1950s, when Russia and Cuba had a finger in the political pie here. An economic upturn since the end of the civil war in the late '90s has brought new investment in infrastructure, and buildings are rising at a fast pace, especially near the port. View more
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Discover the history of Maputo's art on this half-day tour. The tour begins with a short drive to the National Art Museum. Once here, spend some time viewing various paintings, sculptures, drawings and engravings of leading Mozambican artists as well as foreign artists who lived and worked in Mozambique. All these pieces date back to the early 1950's and to present day. From here continue to the Centre Culturel Franco Mozambican where we enjoy a visit to the gallery and a chance to see the various statues and sculptures on display in the gardens.
The first stop is at the gallery of Victor Sousa; born in 1952, Sousa received professional engraving training on a scholarship in Brazil where he was awarded SENAI's prestigious 1st of May Design Prize. Not only is Souza interested in engraving but he also has a passion for drawing, painting and ceramics which form part of his regular creations. In 1979 he began regularly participating in exhibitions in Mozambique and abroad. Souza's work is gradually moving towards the abstract, abandoning the expressionistic form characteristic of his early years which enables Victor to administer his subjects in greater depth. He had his first exhibitions of paintings in Mozambique's Art Nucleus in 1982, and his first show of engravings the same year. He initially started his career as a ceramics teacher and he is now the art master at a prestigious school in Maputo.
Next, stop to view some of the magnificent murals painted by Malangatana Ngwenya.
Born in Matalana, Ngwenya spent his early life attending mission schools and helping his mother on the farm. At 12 he went to the city of Lourenço Marques (now Maputo) to find work, becoming ball boy for a tennis club in 1953. This allowed him to resume his education and his interest in art. Augusto Cabral, a member of the tennis club, gave him materials and helped him to sell his art. In 1958 Ngwenya attended some functions of Nucleo de Arte, a local artists' organization, and received support from the painter Ze Julio. The next year he exhibited publicly for the first time, and two years later came his first solo exhibition, at the age of 25. In 1964 Ngwenya, who had joined the nationalistic FRELIMO guerrilla, was detained by the PIDE, the Portuguese secret police, and spent 18 months in jail. He was given a grant from the Lisbon-based Gulbenkian Foundation in 1971, and studied engraving and ceramics in Portugal, Europe.
Back in Mozambique, his art was exhibited several times in both Maputo and Lisbon until Independence. In 1979 he participated in the exhibition Moderne Kunst aus Afrika, which was organized in West-Berlin. After 1981 he worked full-time as an artist. His work was shown throughout Africa and is in the collection of the National Museum of African Art in Washington, DC. He also helped to start a number of cultural institutions in Mozambique. Ngwenya was awarded the Nachingwea Medal for his Contribution to Mozambican Culture, and was made a Grande Oficial da Ordem do Infante D. Henrique. In 1997 he was named a UNESCO Artist for Peace and received a Prince Claus Award. Malangatana Ngwenya died at age 74, on 5 January 2011 in Matosinhos.
The next stop is the Nucleo de Arte which was first established in 1921 and is the cultural organization that stands for promotion, valorisation, and development of fine arts in Mozambique. It was created with the intention of providing local artist's a networking platform where they can discover resources to build their careers, as well as finding their inclusion and diversity in their art making. This long-standing artists' cooperative has frequent exhibitions featuring the work of up-and-coming artists. There is also a pottery area and a garden where you can talk with the artists and watch them at work.
Lastly, re-board your vehicle for the return drive to the pier.
Please note: The cost of providing a tour program is proportionately more expensive than in neighbouring nations. Unfortunately this is reflected in the prices of the tours. Mozambique is a third world country and although it is a rewarding experience, it differs greatly from South Africa in all aspects. We thank your understanding. Some of the monuments and attractions en-route may fall under "military or state defence objects", therefore we kindly ask you not to take any pictures as this may result in serious problems ignoring these rules. Please ask you tour guides advice first. This tour involves a moderate amount of walking, and is not suitable for guests who utilise a wheelchair and those with limited mobility. We recommend wearing sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, and comfortable walking shoes. The vehicles although basic, are maintained and the quality can vary considerably. There is no formal guiding qualification required for Mozambique, and in order to support the local community we use local escorts/guides, many of them having previous experience in guiding for visiting cruise ships. Whilst the roads are tarred, there are many with potholes and a number of bumpy dirt roads, which will be navigated carefully. Traffic in the area can affect the overall tour schedule. Maputo is a fast moving developing country and changes to the itinerary may occur or sites may be replaced or changed. Order of sites visited can vary because of local conditions.