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Mozambique: Mozambique Art / Culture Profile 2012






Mozambique Art / Culture Profile 2012

Mozambique is a nation on the southeastern coast of Africa. It shares borders with Malawi, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Mozambique is nearly double the size of California with an estimated population of 18 million people. Out of these 18 million people more than two-fifths of the population are under the age of 15. The Mozambicans are still a people in transition, long after fighting for and winning their independence from Portugal in 1975 after over 300 years of rule. Although in transition, Mozambicans still hold true to their long-established values, heritage, and traditions.


Most of the citizens are blacks of the Bantu group. Most Portuguese settlers and some mulattoes, Chinese, Indians, and Arabs left after independence.


The official language is Portuguese, but only 40% of people speak it. Most Africans speak it as second or third language. Most Mozambicans speak Bantu languages as mother tongues. Arabic and Gujarati language are also spoken by the respective minorities.


Most of the people in Mozambique practice native beliefs and are Christians, mostly Roman Catholics and some Protestants. Christianity is a Portuguese influence. A few Muslims (mostly Arabs and blacks in northern part of the country), Buddhists (mostly Mahayana and Chinese), and Hindus (virtually Indians) are also important.


Only one-third of Mozambicans over the age of 15 are able to read and write. Primary education in Mozambique is free. However, secondary schooling is not. At the end of 1995 about 60% of primary school aged children attended primary school. A very small percentage of these students, about 7%, moved on to secondary school.

At the end of the 1995 calendar year there were approximately 7000 students that attended one of the three higher level institutions. Universidade Eduardo Mondlane is the only university in the nation and it is located in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique.


Music in Mozambique can serve many purposes, ranging from religious expression to traditional ceremonies. Musical instruments are usually handmade. Some of the instruments used in Mozambican musical expression include drums made of wood and animal skin; the lupembe, a woodwind instrument made from animal horns or wood; and the marimba which is a kind of xylophone native to Mozambique. The marimba is a popular instrument with the Chopi of the south central coast who are famous for their musical skill and dance. Some would say that Mozambique music is similar to reggae and West Indian calypso. Other music types popular in Mozambique are marrabenta, and other Lusophone music forms like fado, samba, bossa nova, maxixe (with origins from Maxixe, and kizomba.

The Makonde are renowned for their wood carving and elaborate masks that are commonly used in ritual dances. There are two different kinds of wood carvings. One being Shetani which are mostly carved in heavy ebony, tall, and elegantly curved with symbols and nonrepresentational faces. The Ujamaa are totem-type carvings which illustrate life-like faces of people and various figures. Theses sculptures are usually referred to as “family trees” because they tell stories of many generations.

Dances are usually intricate, highly developed traditions throughout Mozambique. There are many different kinds of dances from tribe to tribe which are usually ritualistic in nature. The Chopi, for instance, act out battles dressed in animal skins. The men of Makua dress in colorful outfits and masks while dancing on 2 foot stilts around the village for hours.


The popular sport in Mozambique is soccer (futebol in Portuguese). The T.V. stations watched by Mozambicans are Televisão Moçambique and RTP África; Portuguese T.V. stations RTP Internacional, SIC Internacional, SIC Notícias, MTV Portugal, Disney Channel Portugal, SuperSport 7, and Euronews; and Brazilian T.V. stations TV Globo International and TV Record.


Independance Day, New Years, Family Day, Day Of Mozambican Women, Heros Day

Cultural Identity

Mozambique was ruled by Portugal and they share in common: main language and second main religion (Roman Catholicism). But since most of the people are Bantus, most of the culture is native and for Bantus living in urban areas with some Portuguese influence. Mozambican culture influences the Portuguese culture. Mozambican music, movies (by RTP África), cuisine, and traditions are now part of everyday lifestyles of Portugal.