The Mozambican People and Culture
Mozambique is fondly known as the “Land of Good People”, this name was given by Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama because of having nice and friendly people. Mozambique is a country with a diverse and rich cultural heritage. The cultures and traditions of Islam, Swahili and Bantu speakers co-exist harmoniously in the country. Ethnic groups makes up a large percentage of the population, and include Shangaan, Chokwe, Manyoka, Sena and Makua.
Other cultures include Europeans, Euro-Africans and Indians. Even through the country boasts a variety of languages, social relationships, artistic traditions, Mozambicans share a common culture in their love and expression of song, poetry, dynamic dance and performance.
• It’s home to the third largest and second deepest lake in Africa. Commonly known as Lake Malawi, this giant lake is known as Lago Niassa in Mozambique and spans a significant chunk of the country. It’s home to more species of fish than any other lake in the world, including the famous cichlids you often see in pet stores. The section of the lake in Mozambique was declared a reserve in 2011.
• The country’s population is incredibly young. Over 50% of Mozambique’s population is under the age of 15.
• On Mozambique’s side of the Vumba Mountains lies Chinhamapere Hill, a culturally prominent site since the Iron Age. There are several well-preserved hunter-gatherer rock paintings at the hill that are thought to be around 8,000 years old. Some of the paintings include humans holding bows and arrows.
• Mozambique has some of the best coral reefs in the world, especially those lining the Bazaruto Archipelago. Over 1,200 species of fish have been identified off the coast of the country and it’s also one of the largest marine reserves in the world.
• Mozambique has one of the most interesting flags in the world due to its iconic emblems. The star stands for Marxism and internationalism, the book stands for the importance of education, the hoe stands for the country’s agriculture, and the rifle stands for defiance and vigilance.
• Mozambique is drained by five principal rivers and several smaller ones with the largest and most important the Zambezi.
• Mozambique is forecast to be one of the fastest growing countries in the next 10 years, helped by exports of coal and natural gas.
• Situated in the Tete Province in Mozambique, the Cahora Bassa Lake is Africa’s second-largest artificial lake.
• Niassa Game Reserves is located in the Northern Mozambique as part of the Miombo woodlands that covers southern parts of Tanzania and Malawi. It is one of the most pristine wildlife ecosystems in the world characterized by widespread biodiversity. It is mostly inhabited by wild herbivores which include elephants, buffalos, different species of antelopes and gazelles, among others.
Some of the scenes from Blood Diamond starring Leonardo Di Caprio was shot in Maputo, Mozambique.
Foodies from many countries in the world routinely flock to Mozambique when the weather is good to sip on local drinks and devour spicy grilled prawns. But the secret of Mozambican cuisine isn’t quite out around the globe yet. Centuries of Portuguese influence combined with local African culture have made one of the most flavorful cuisines on the planet.
There are some Mozambican specialties that visitors won’t find anywhere else in the world.
Here’s a taste of what to expect:
Mozambique’s cuisine is a heady blend of African, Portuguese, oriental and Arab flavors — think fragrant spices, hot piri piri and creamy coconut sauces, with hints of cashews and peanuts.
Sizzling, spicy prawns and seafood are often a first choice for visitors to Maputo, but don’t miss the iconic Mozambican dish Galinha à Zambeziana, a succulent feast of chicken cooked with lime, pepper, garlic, coconut milk and piri piri sauce.
It’s generally known simply as grilled chicken piri piri by tourists, and is traditionally served with matapa, a dish of cassava leaves cooked in a peanut sauce.
Rissóis de Camarão
Rissóis de camarão are an excellent example of the extent to which Portuguese cuisine has become entrenched in Mozambican culture. A popular appetizer or snack food in both countries, these crescent-shaped croquettes contain a creamy whole shrimp sauce, which, depending on the recipe may also include spices or piri-piri. The mixture is folded into a dough parcel, then dipped in an egg-wash and covered with breadcrumbs before being deep fried. Rissois de camarão can be enjoyed hot or cold, but are best bought fresh from the pan at a street-side stall.
Matapa is uniquely Mozambican. Despite sharing its name with an ancient kingdom of Africa, it is a relatively humble dish, made from stewed cassava leaves blended with ground peanuts, garlic and coconut milk. It is as delicious as it is simple, however, and it’s worth venturing beyond Mozambique’s Western restaurants to try it. Often, matapa is served with rice as a main dish, with small crabs or shrimp added to the stew for extra flavor. It can also be an accompaniment to seafood or meat, and is especially delicious when mopped up with xima.
Mozambique’s coastline stretches for 1,535 miles/ 2,470 kilometers, and many of its people depend upon the sea for their livelihood. It comes as no surprise, then, that seafood plays a major part in local cuisine. Grilled fish, crumbed calamari, octopus prepared with garlic and smashed potatoes… All of these are easy to find. But, the highlight is undoubtedly Mozambique’s prawns, which often grow to incredible sizes. They are usually served grilled and slathered in piri-piri sauce; although lemon and garlic does just as well for those that prefer a milder taste.
Prawns Nacional is another favorite, served with a creamy beer sauce.
Chamussas are triangular, savory pastries inspired by the Indian samosa. In Mozambique, fillings range from meat and fish to potatoes or cheese. A popular street food or between-meals snack in larger cities like Maputo and Inhambane, they are made special by their unique blend of Mozambican spices.
There’s nothing better for a roadside snack in Mozambique than a lip-smacking prego roll: a steak covered in peri peri sauce (a fiery red sauce made with chillies, garlic and vinegar) in paõ.
Simple and delicious!
FACTS ABOUT MOZAMBIQUE
A well laid out airport system makes domestic air travel within Mozambique quick and safe.
The airports of Maputo, Beira and Nampula are open to international traffic. Regional traffic uses Pemba and Vilanculos.
The local currency is the metical. Dollars and Rand are accepted in many places. Exchange is easily available in the banks and exchange agencies. Credit cards and traveller`s cheques are accepted in most establishments.
Borders Control Posts
The existing posts are to found at Ressano Garcia (06H00-24H00), Namaacha (06H00-20H00), Goba (06H00 20H00), Ponta d`Ouro (06H30-17H30), Machipanda (06H00-18H00), Cuchamano (06H00-18H00), Zóbwè (06H00-18H00), Milange (06H00-18H00) and Mandimba (06H00-18H00).
It is recommended that visitors arrive well before the stipulated closing times.
Ports: Maputo, Beira, Nacala and Pemba.
Any visitor wishing to visit the country must obtain a visa from the Mozambique Consulate or Embassy. It is necessary to present a passport, two recent photographs and fill in the respective form. Visas can be obtained at the frontiers for a 30 day visit. South Africa, Swaziland, Malawi, Tanzania, Angola, Zambia, Mauritius, Lesotho and Zimbabwe in the base of agreements are exempt of visas.
Upon arrival visitors must declare those articles subject to customs duties. Free of tax are objects of personal use Such as clothing, books and camaras Each visitor is allowed:
• Tobacco: 400 cigarettes or 100 small cigars or 50 big cigars or 250grm of loose tobacco;
• Alcoholic drinks: 1 liter of spirits and 2,25l of wine;
• Perfume: 50ml of perfume; Medication: reasonable quantities for personal use.
• Other articles not exceeding USD 50;
• Narcotics and Pornographic material are prohibited;
• Transport of arms must have a special licence;
Any transactions with customs should include the respective receipt.
Entry of vehicles on tourist or business trips belonging to or driven by non-residents
A temporary import licence is required upon entry into the country.
Vehicles imported temporarily cannot be sold or lent out and the owners must present temporary import documentation whenever requested.
It is obligatory to carry identifi cation at all times.
An authenticated photocopy of the same is allowed.
All visitors must be in possession of a certificate declaring that they have been vaccinated 18 AFRICAN CONGRESS OF ACCOUNTANTS against yellow fever. Precautions should be taken to avoid mosquito bites and extra care taken when drinking water and eating local tropical food so as to minimize the risk of intestinal upsets so frequent in tropical climates. Should medical assistance be required, well-equipped clinics are available
Local voltage is 220/240 V 50 Hz.
Although local water is reasonably safe, visitors are advised to drink the good quality bottled water available in must urban and tourist centres.
The main urban centres provide the necessary postal services. Express Mail, such as DHL and EMS are also available.
In the North and along the coast, the climate is tropical and humid, in the Interior, the South and in the Province of Tete, tropical dry and in Gaza, tropical arid.
The rainy season is between October and April, with temperatures between 27º and 29º and the dry season between May and September with temperatures between 18º and 20º.
In Mozambique driving is on the left.
All drivers must carry the following documents: Identification, driver’s license, car registration, insurance when applicable a temporary import license for towing caravans, boats, etc. Seat belts are obligatory as is the emergency triangle in case of breakdowm or accident. Acess to certain regions often depends on weather conditions; consequently it is advisable to obtain information on certain routes before planning a journey.
The official language is Portuguese.
In general people understand and speak some English.
Outside the urban areas, each region has its own Mozambican languages.
Public holidays in Mozambique are:
January 1st – New Year’s Day
February 3rd – Mozambique’s Hero’s Day
April 7th – Mozambique’s Women’s Day
19 AFRICAN CONGRESS OF ACCOUNTANTS
May 1st – Labour Day
June 25th – Independence Day
September 7th – Lusaka Agreement Day
September 25th – Armed Forces Day
October 4th – Peace Day
December 25th – Family Day
World wide direct connections are available, using the international code or telephone operator if necessary.
From abroad dial 258 (country code) followed by number required.
There are two mobile operators, Mcel (82), Vodacom (84) and Movitel (86).