Maputo: old and new

Maputo: old and new

When I first drove into Maputo, in 1991, I was astounded.

It was bigger then than Pretoria was at the time!

The skyline grew into the clouds as we got closer, the buildings were so impressive from far. But when we got close we saw the destruction wrought. It was chaos. The holes in the road (don’t read potholes), could have fit our whole car in! And hardly anyone had clothes. I am not joking. Rags.

And then there were the AK47’s. Everyone had one. And no uniforms. So we never knew who we were giving our money to!

But come into Maputo today…

The new bridge to Catembe, a year or so away from completion, completely takes over the skyline. The buildings have all been brought back into operation of sorts (some have no lifts still, to ten floors or more – cheap rent). But it’s the new buildings that are just to gawdily over impressive.

This gallery is an attempt to balance the old and the new…in a town that is growing and growing, in so many aspects. Commerce. Tourism. Manufacturing. Farming. Crime. Corruption. Yes, watch out. As with every boom town, the criminals are there. Petty, blue and white collar, and sometimes violent. My dear friend was recently violently mugged of her cellphone on the way home from theatre at night. And it’s on the up, so please, take every precaution. Especially with the uniformed sort. They are well known to plant something on your for extortion purposes. And having watched enough western movies, are quite good at what they do.

But staying positive, Maputo is growing into a cultural centre where many races and creeds live together, and prosper. Hence the gallery, which stems from the nostalgic feeling I get, driving past the old LM Radio building, the grand theatres downtown, the stone warehouses on the foreshore, the colonial grandeur in the old administration buildings…and the quaintly adorned streets and roads.

Trees everywhere.

A beautiful African city.

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