This post was contributed by Melany Marangabassa.
I come from a country called Mozambique, a compassionately alluring country in Southern Africa (on top and to the right of South Africa), with the best chicken and shrimp you’ll ever eat in your life. We speak Portuguese back home which honestly, apart from Brazilian Portuguese, is the best Portuguese you’ll ever hear. Sure, the base is Portuguese for Portugal but it’s nowhere near as uptight. It’s extremely witty, amusingly vulgar and mng (short for maningue which means yes, very, RIGHT!), and I know all in one will be a part of your everyday vocabulary once you visit. Contrary to popular belief, the media and white supremacy, my country and neither all of the other countries in Africa are made of just poverty. Sure, poverty is a major concern but it’s also an alarming issue amongst several developed countries.
It’s a hot (seriously, average temperature is 30), melting pot of different cultures, which brings so much diversity. But not to forget, our people, the Mozambicans. Apart from the food, we are the reason Mozambique is Mozambique. It’s a way of being… we can’t put it into a word. Why? Because our culture, music, and food stem from Portugal, India, Southern Africa, and Brazil – yet we have the capability to fuse them all together and to make it us.
Here are a few of the best things about Mozambique:
Our food: Apart from our national food, which is f!@king amazing, we’ve re-invented many dishes from countries that hit our shores or TV screens.
Bacalhau in all its shapes and forms, from Portugal; Feijoada from Brazil that we’ve changed by adding/using red beans and not only black beans; Chamuças, apas (chapati) and Biryani from India. But then again, we have our own food, which is beyond mouth-watering. Mercado do peixe is an experience of its own, with exquisite seafood that you choose yourself. The best part is that you get to see it prepared right in front of you. Killer combo though is when you have one of the leafy gang matapa, mboa, cacana, macouve (leafy gang because these dishes are derived from vegetables leaves, cassava, sweet potato and kale respectively) + a side whether it be xima (sort of polenta made with maize flour), rice or mucapata + our chickeeeen.
Whether it be frango assado ou frango a zambeziana, it’s everythinggg.
Our music: our traditional music/dance is called marrabenta. It was born in Mafalala in 1930, a neighbourhood in Maputo. Marrabenta is a genre of music derived from Portuguese folk music called fado. During our civil war in 1977, its popularity decreased due to its lyrics expressing discontent of the regime. It then regained its popularity post-war and now has been mixed with South African, Cuban, and most recently pop and hip hop.
Our clothes: capulanas as we call them, are a type of “sarong” that is traditionally wrapped around women’s waist or used to carry babies on the back. They were received from Indian traders as a means of trades for other goods. Primarily they came in red (representing spirit of war), white (representing protection from ancestors) and black (representing evil). Varying in styles and colours, capulanas can be worn in their natural form or styled into different trendy pieces. There’s no Mozambican woman who doesn’t own a capulana. It’s impossible.
And the best part of being Mozambican is getting to share my culture with everyone else who is, and is not Mozambican. 96% of people I meet have no idea what Mozambique is, where it’s located and that it even exists. Although I must be frank, it’s a frustrating exercise of having to explain over and over and over again, having to give a fake smile at their ignorance, and trying to keep the rage in when the most stereotypical questions such as, “Oh so wait do you live with lions?” come out. It’s with utmost pride (sometimes irritation) that I explain my heritage.
And by doing so, I honour my roots in an authentic way that speaks to my soul and that will hopefully speak to someone else’s too. Unapologetically African, I also want to encourage more people to travel and to backpack throughout our continent and to create connections you’d never fathom of creating.
Next time you’re thinking of booking a flight to visit 3 countries, think of Mozambique. It’s the price of 3 for 1.
Meet Melany: It’s funny how my nickname is “Mel” but I hated honey growing up! Keep up with me on IG.