Arts and crafts in Mozambique
Despite the slow pace of post-civil war recovery, Mozambique is making its way up the list of top African destinations for a cultural holiday retreat. Overseas visitors might still be weary of Moz’, but South Africans love their eastern-most neighbour and many visitors are attracted to the country’s unspoiled beaches, old colonial-style buildings, as well as a thriving arts and culture atmosphere. A holiday in Mozambique will never be complete without a ceremonial visit and tour of the capital city’s arts and crafts markets. There’s a load to choose from if you have to take travel gifts home, or to simply discover more about the country’s arty culture.
You’ll be hard-pressed to try to find a place in Mozambique that doesn’t proudly display the wares and talent of its people in brightly coloured clothing, bags, sarongs, hats, paintings, pottery, woven baskets, hand-carved statuettes, and – believe it or not – AK-47’s.
First stop: The Municipal Market
The Municipal Market in Maputo looks like it’s encased in a town hall-type building and the austere, colonial façade belies the bustling market that is busy within. This 100-year-old building sets the scene for your cultural tour, as it’s overflowing with arts and crafts stalls from which local artists and artisans display and promote their wares. You’ll find original, hand-made goods in bright colours – very typical of Africa – as well as home-grown fruit and vegetables, spices, nuts, and chilli powders. Two pieces of advice that should come in handy in this mini shopping mecca: watch out for pick-pockets (wear your money under your clothes) and remember to barter if you think prices are too high. Don’t try to rip off the artist or artisan; you may just be ridding him or her of a decent living. If you are happy to pay the price – pay it.
Then: The Saturday Craft Market
Perhaps there’s something special about Saturdays, but do give this place the time of day if you happen to be in the area. Here you’ll find more tourism-orientated items such as printed wax batiks, wood carvings, interesting paintings, toys made from wood, as well as regional jewellery. It’s also interesting to note how far the locals take their recycling – see if you can spot an item or two that are recycled from household objects like plastic bags and tin cans.
Don’t forget: Nucleo de Arte
What we imagine to mean “the art nucleus”, this has been a long-standing meeting place for artists in Mozambique, and a house in Baixe de Maputo is the venue for numerous exhibitions for local and overseas artists. An interesting permanent collection of the art house is the “Guns into Art” installation, where AK-47’s (among other weapons) used in Moz’s civil war have been retrieved and turned into arty talking points.
Finally: The Fish Market
Visiting all the markets on your holiday in Mozambique can really whet your appetite, so be sure to stop over at the Mercado de Peixe, further up the north coast. Stroll through the fish market full of fresh catch, choose your meal, then take it next door to a specially-placed restaurant to be prepared before your very eyes… then dig in!