Hot Oregon Summer – Berlin Next

Gendarmenmarkt Berlin –

Gardening and Wildfires

It’s been a restful, contemplative summer in Oregon working in my garden with deer, wild turkeys, annoying yellow jackets, and a stray Gothic-looking black cat. Sadly, dry and windy conditions combined with record-breaking heat resulted in raging wildfires all around us.

Garden Visitor

Cute Stray Cat

The massive Carr Fire near the California / Oregon border created terrifying “fire tornadoes“. They occur when a fire acquires “vertical vorticity and forms a whirl”. Fire tornadoes can “grow to gargantuan size with winds of over 90 mph”.

Fire Tornado –

Carr Fire Chopper – The Mercury News Bay Area

The Carr Fire ignited in late July. A month later, after “torching more than 200,000 acres,” it’s about 90 percent contained!  Smoke from fires in Oregon, California, Washington, and nearby Colorado and Canada creates a surreal aura, bringing an eerie atmospheric haze, poor air quality, and vivid sunrises and sunsets.

Wildfire Sunset San Francisco Bay –

Wildfire Smoke at Sunrise – Jonathan Hayward Canadian Press

Brave Wildfire Fighter – Charlie Nash Photography

Next Long Trip

I’ve started getting into the specifics of my next travel adventure. No matter what, this time I’m traveling with one piece of luggage!

Berlin Boroughs and Districts

Like in 2017, I’ll begin in Europe and eventually make my way back to South Africa. I decided to start in Berlin – a new city for me. I’ve studied Berlin’s East and West boroughs and have a few leads for rental apartments in well-located areas near attractions and transportation – Mitte, Charlottenburg-WilmersdorfFriedrichshain-Kreuzberg, and Neukölln. Rents are reasonable, and the apartments look comfortable.

Museum Island River Spree – Stock Photo

Return to South Africa

I’m apprehensive about violence in many parts of Africa – Congo, Mali, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, et al. Although I’ve never experienced violence during my travels in Africa, but six cities in South Africa – Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Pietermaritzburg, Rustenburg, and Johannesburg – made the top ten list of the most dangerous cities on the African continent. Xenophobic related violence in South Africa is disturbing. Here in the US, we clearly have our own problems and brand of political tension, civil unrest, violence, and a vast chasm between “left versus right” ideologies…

Berlin Cathedral – 

Thankfully Day Zero in Cape Town’s drought is now pushed out beyond 2019, but the government’s move toward land expropriation without compensation is a concern. More than two decades after the end of apartheid, land ownership remains a “highly emotive” subject for South Africans – that may be an understatement. According to the ruling ANC government, white people own 72 percent of private land, black people 4 percent, and other ethnic groups 24 percent.

Berlin Cathedral at Museum Island –

Land expropriation is said to be “the most pressing social issue in the country”. However, some think high crime, corruption, and the “triple-time-bomb of poverty, unemployment, and inequality” are the real issues keeping South Africans awake at night.

Kayelitsha Township Outside Cape Town – Dan Kitwood Getty Images

Julius Malema Leader Economic Freedem Fighters (EFF) -blouinnews

Julius Sello Malema Leader Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) –

The ANC-led government and members of the militant, aggressive Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party differ in their approach to land expropriation.


South Africa’s EFF – founded in 2013 and led by outspoken Julius Sello Malema – is a self-proclaimed “radical leftist, anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist movement that draws inspiration from the broad Marxist-Leninist tradition”.


Mmusi Maimane – Leader Democratic Alliance

The Democratic Alliance (DA) – the ANC’s official opposition and second largest political party – accuses both the ANC and EFF of “misleading the public on land expropriation”. They claim to have the best land-reform plan. DA leader Mmusi Maimane says, “there can be no new dawn for South Africa until the ANC is out of power“.

My extended South African visa expires in 2020 – a regular entry (tourist) visa issued at the airport is good for 90 days. I haven’t decided whether to pursue the rigorous renewal process. The “retirement visa” has allowed me to make long trips (up to five years) to explore and better understand South Africa. I especially enjoy the Western Cape, hiking Table Mountain, volunteer work with young children, and vibrant Cape Town – a special and dear place to me. South Africa is a strikingly beautiful but complex and sometimes difficult country that can’t possibly be understood without spending extended time there.

Unter den Linden by Night –

During this period of rapid change, the National Development Plan (NDP) is the country’s detailed proposal addressing key issues for uniting South Africans.The lofty NDP goals to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality are to be implemented by 2030. What little I know of the NDP, it seems overwhelming, but I’m digressing – back to Berlin

Clouds Over Table Mountain from Signal Hill Cape Town – Erik Pronske Getty Images


The NDP’s goal is to “unite South Africans, unleash the energies of its citizens, grow an inclusive economy, build capabilities, and enable the state and leaders to work together to solve complex problems”…


Staatsoper Unter den Linden

Berlin State Opera Staatsoper Unter den Linden – Wikipedia

Berlin This Fall

I plan to arrive in Berlin in September. Their fall weather is much like Oregon’s with cool but mild temperatures. When winter comes and it starts getting really cold, I’ll move south – not sure where yet. I’m considering exploring new places versus returning to more familiar areas. New countries of interest include Romania and Albania, but Italy and Spain also have moderate winter climates.

Berlin Brandenburg Gate at Dusk –

I’m looking for a three-month rental apartment in the Berlin-Mitte borough, the central section of former East Berlin. “Before the war and division of the city, Mitte was the center of Berlin. It’s regained its former pre-eminence to such an extent that many visitors never see the western side of the city.”

Bode Museum Mitte –


Mitte is the oldest and most historic part of Berlin with many cultural attractions and “ever-expanding restaurant, club, and arts scenes”.


Strandbar at Bode Museum Mitte

Mitte begins at Potsdamer Platz and the Brandenburg Gate on the east side of Tiergarten Park. The grand boulevard, Unter den Linden, is lined with 18th- and 19th-century palaces and monuments.

Mitte – VanDam StreetSmart Maps

Tiergarten Park –

Komische Opera House Berlin –

I’m excited to attend theater performances and the Berlin opera! Berlin is teeming with performing arts theaters, cabarets, and clubs. The Staatsoper Unter den Linden, Berlin’s main opera house, and the Komische Oper, the third largest, are both in Mitte. Berlin’s Philharmonic Season begins in late September. Other major attractions in the area include Gendarmenmarkt, a neoclassical square, Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral), and Museumsinsel (Museum Island) with five major museums. Frivolous activities that top my list are – mingling with locals, hanging out in cafés, overnight side trips, and exploring less-traveled backstreets.

Christmas Berlin – 

Germany’s festive Christmas Markets are legendary. These are the top five:

  1. Weihnachtszauber at the Gendarmenmarkt
  2. Berliner Weihnachtszeit at Roten Rathaus
  3. Wintertraum am Alexa
  4. Winterwelt am Potsdamer Platz
  5. Weihnachtsmarkt am Gedächtniskirche

Christmas Markets Berlin –

I don’t speak German but am learning key phrases and pronunciation rules hoping I don’t butcher the language too much. During past travels in Germany, English was spoken everywhere. Mehr später…

Monbijou Park Embankment River Spree

West Side Story Artscape Theatre

In March after popular demand, producer and human rights activist Eric Abraham and the Fugard Theatre’s production of West Side Story returned to the Artscape. The American musical has been performed in Cape Town before and audiences raved about the brilliant actors, singers, dancers, music, and sets!

Jerome Robbins – Choreographer

Grant van Stern – Choreographer

Artscape Theatre

Artscape is one of my favorite performing arts venues in Cape Town. The theatre opened in 1971 as the Nico Malan Theatre Centre. It was renamed in 2001 and now belongs to the Western Cape Government.

Officer Krupke and Detective Schrank

The spectacular opera house has an exciting ambiance, including gardens, rehearsal rooms, and a stylish foyer. Over the years, I’ve joined friends there for memorable opera, ballet, musical, and comedy performances! Last night’s brilliant performance didn’t disappoint!

Eric Abraham – Film, Television, Theatre Producer

Stephen Sondheim – Songwriter


“West Side Story is a musical about cultural differences, racism, forbidden love, revenge, and death.”

Arthur Laurents – Screenwriter


Inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story’s timeless plot is set on the “harsh streets of New York City’s Upper West Side in the 1950s”.

Rival street gangs, the Puerto Rican Sharks and Caucasian Jets, battle in a turf-war to gain control of the neighborhood. Tensions rise when Tony, a former member of the Jets and best friend of the leader, Riff, falls in love with Maria, the sister of Bernardo, leader of the rival Sharks.


American choreographer Jerome Robbins conceived the story in 1957, and playwright and screenwriter Arthur Laurents wrote the West Side Story book. Renowned composer Leonard Bernstein created the musical score with lyrics written by songwriter Stephen Sondheim.

Michael Brenner – Producer

The 1961 film version of West Side Story “won 11 Academy Awards, including best picture, best supporting actor and actress, best director, and best cinematographer”. The film also won a Grammy for best soundtrack. It’s undoubtedly one of the best musicals ever written.

Louisa Talbot – Choreographer

South Africa’s Matthew Wild directs the Artscape production with Charl Johan Lingenfelder as musical director and conductor of the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra. Louisa Talbot choreographed the production with Grant van Ster as resident choreographer and dance captain.

Charl Johan Lingenfelder – Musical Director and Conductor

In 2018, West Side Story is once again “sweeping Capetonians off their feet”! How could it not with the fabulous Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra performing in the pit and an outstanding cast of forty exceptional performers?

Cast of Characters

Lynelle Kenned plays the role of Maria, a hopeless romantic who falls in love with Tony and finds herself at the center of a violent conflict between the Jets and Sharks. Kenned won the Fleur du Cap Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance. Among her many talents Kenned is a soprano opera singer with a marvelous voice!

The main character Tony – former Jets leader – is torn between his gang friends and love for Maria. The part is played by talented US actor Kevin Hack who has performed the role almost 400 times. Hack recently completed an international tour playing in the 60th anniversary international tour of German producer Michael Brenner’s production of West Side Story.

Matthew Wild – Director

Singer, pianist, violinist, dancer, and actress Bianca Le Grange plays Anita, Maria’s friend and Bernardo’s girlfriend. Daniel Mpilo Richards plays Bernardo, proud leader or the Sharks.

Leonard Bernstein – Composer and Conductor


“The choreography exudes vibrant waves of emotion from act to act leaving its audience’s heart thumping!”


Artscape Foyer

Artscape Theatre Centre Cape Town

Artscape Foyer Upper Level Lounge

Sculptures Artscape Entrance

The actors are multi-talented with impressive accomplishments and careers. The beautiful, strong dancers were magnificent!!! Main characters include:

  1. Lynelle Kenned – Maria, Bernardo’s sister in love with Tony
  2. Kevin Hack – Tony, former Jets leader in love with Maria
  3. Bianca Le Grange – Anita, Jet, Bernardo’s girlfriend, Maria’s friend
  4. Daniel Mpilo Richards – Bernardo, Shark leader, Maria’s brother, Anita’s boyfriend
  5. Stephen Jubber – Riff, quick-­tempered Jets leader
  6. Sven-Eric Muller – Diesel, Jets second-in-­command
  7. Craig Urbani – Schrank, police detective
  8. Richard Lothian – Officer Krupke, beat cop
  9. James Borthwick – Doc, owner of the store where the Jets hang out
  10. Clint Lesch – Chino, Jet, Maria’s suitor, and friend of Bernardo
  11. Logan Timbre – Action, quick-­‐tempered member of the Jets

West Side Story Artscape Willem Law Photographer

It was an interesting, eclectic crowd attending the performance – an evening of entertainment by extraordinarily talented young artists! Many more than mentioned here helped with production of the musical.

Cape Town International Jazz Festival

Next weekend Artscape hosts the 19th Cape Town International Jazz Festival. The exciting lineup includes Alistair Izobell, Amanda Black, GrazRoots Project, Blinky Bill, Claire Phillips, Miles Mosley, Nduduzo Makhathini, Mabuta, Louis Moholo, and many more outstanding artists!

In Bocca al Lupo Cape Town

Actress and Artist Jemma Kahn

You never know what might happen at Cape Town’s Alexander Theatre – that’s the beauty of the place! The Mother City is rich in creativity, energy, and talented artists. Last night’s performance – In Bocca al Lupo – was a phenomenal one-woman show!

Jemma Kahn

Before last night, I hadn’t experienced the art of kamishibai – “a twelfth century Japanese form of storytelling where a tale is presented with the help of cardboard panel illustrations”.  In Bocca al Lupo was totally engrossing!

Jemma Kahn studied kamishibai under “veteran Japanese performer Roukda Genji, and the two performed throughout Japan”. In Bocca al Lupo is Jemma’s memoir – or maybe not. I didn’t know about her before last night’s performance, so the story that kept the audience engaged could have been her own, or perhaps it was fictional?

Alexander Bar, Café & Theatre


“While kamishibai may be the device Kahn uses to portray her tales, it’s not the only thing that sets her apart as a master storyteller.”


Jemma Kahn

To summarize simplistically, the memoir begins as the story of a young South African woman who feels like a failure living a boring life. She decides to spice things up and expand her world by embarking on a two-year adventure teaching English in Japan.

Alexander Bar, Café & Theatre

Alexander Bar, Café & Theatre


“Kahn has the charisma of an old Hollywood starlet. To be a member of her audience is to be in a state of enchantment for a full 80 minutes.” 


Alexander Bar, Café & Theatre

Alexander Bar, Café & Theatre

After living in Japan for several months, Jemma experiences culture shock and ponders its four stages – honeymoon, frustration, adjustment, acceptance – ha ha ha. This is something I can relate to firsthand having traveled abroad extensively on my own!

Jemma Kahn

The romantic concept of living in a foreign country is often deceptive. Jemma does a masterful job of telling her (or someone’s) story of alienation as a foreigner in Japan – an unfamiliar country that in the end, was not for her.

Jemma Kahn


“One’s travels can be rife with anxiety, loneliness, culture shock, and the depression that inevitably comes with isolation.”


The Epicene Butcher

Using a series of four “beautifully drawn images displayed on cardboard story panels” Jemma meticulously connects with her audience, drawing them in and leaving them hanging on her every word and description! She adds humor to her stories, even though some of the subjects she discusses aren’t funny.

A multi-talented artist trained in fine art and drama, Kahn created many of the kamishibai panels she uses. Her talented award-winning crew are remarkable:

Jemma Kahn

In Bocca al Lupo (into the mouth of the wolf in Italian) follows two of Kahn’s other popular kamishibai shows:

Actress and Artist Jemma Kahn

The Epicene Butcher – described as stories that “seduce the sinless and astonish the immoral” toured internationally and was performed 400 times.

Jemma Kahn We Didn’t Come to Hell for the Croissants photo by Dean Hutton


Jemma Kahn has “captivated audiences from Cape Town to Edinburgh to Amsterdam with her unique take on the 12th century Japanese art form Kamishibai”.


Alexander Theatre

Alexander Bar, Café & Theatre – SafariNow

The phrase “in bocca al lupo” is an Italian idiom used in opera and theatre to wish a performer good luck before a performance. The standard response is “crepi il lupo” or, more commonly, simply “crepi” (may the wolf die). The Italian expression is similar to the English actor’s idiom “break a leg, reflecting a theatrical superstition in which wishing a person ‘good luck’ before a performance is considered bad luck”.

In Bocca Al Lupo Poster

There are several theories on how the Italian expression originated. For this show, “the phrase illustrates the leap of faith Jemma took to create her third kamishibai play”.

Alexander Bar, Café & Theatre


“The play follows Kahn on her journey to Japan and then Ireland, as she regales her audience with all the things we fail to mention when asked about our travels to another country.”


Alexander Bar, Café & Theatre

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of restoring broken ceramics using lacquer and gold dust to repair cracks, emphasizing and assigning value to the site of repair. In Bocca Al Lupo has a similar effect. Kahn, co-writer Tertius Kapp, and director Jane Taylor expertly curate her story by selecting the cracks as the focal points which form the narrative.”

Jemma Kahn

Although I often find memoirs boring, if In Bocca al Lupo really was one, it was a delightful, thoroughly enjoyed, and well-performer story – a must see in Cape Town!

Alexander Bar, Café & Theatre

Kirstenbosch and Claremont

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is one of the most peaceful, beautiful places on earth. It touches me every time I visit. Fog is back in the Cape, mysteriously draping itself over Table Mountain – yesterday was a great day to see the garden.

It’s hard to say which Kirstenbosch delight is best – fragrant gardens with pristine fynbos, forested areas, dramatic mountain views, gourmet restaurant, exotic birds, stone sculpting, or the gallery of South African artists. It’s a big dose of beautiful!!

James Yates – Namaqualand in Bloom

I visited the art gallery and especially liked the landscapes of James Yates. The current exhibition – Professional Cape Artists – features paintings, ceramics, and wooden sculpture of popular local masters. The exhibition is on display between 16th February and 11th March.

Cape Dutch Manor House

Dutch Colonial House

Southey Cottage Claremont

Cape Dutch Manor House

Cape Dutch Manor House

Other favorite artists include Bill McGill, Mieke Teijema, Lionel Smit, and Tony Butler. It was too much trying to sort names with each piece. I took the curator’s card.

James Yates

I hiked a close-in trail, had lunch, and enjoyed the spectacular stone sculptures perfectly placed throughout the grounds. Families were relaxing and picnicking on a lush carpet of grass.

Bill McGill

Kirstenbosch’s water shortage isn’t as dire as Cape Town’s. Its irrigation flows from a different source – surface runoff and streams in Window Gorge and Nursery Ravine.

Gorges, Buttresses, Ravines Table Mt.

Nelson Mandela by Tony Butler

Chemicals aren’t used in Kirstenbosch’s drinking water. It’s “extracted from boreholes that tap deep into the Table Mountain Aquifer 200 ft. below ground level”. The drinking water from the aquifer is of “such high quality it could be bottled”!

Everyone is taking the drought very seriously. It was nice drinking fresh spring water, washing my hands, and flushing the toilet without feeling guilty. Most public toilets in Cape Town have hand sanitizer dispensers. Sink water is turned off.

James Yates

James Yates

James Yates

This trip I’m exploring Claremont – a leafy suburban neighborhood 6 miles south of Cape Town. Although nothing beats the energy and excitement of Cape Town, I wanted to experience  a new area.

Lionel Smit

My B&B is between Claremont and Rondebosch, both are growing suburban areas surrounded by spectacular natural beauty and Cape Dutch architecture. The University of Cape Town is nearby. It’s quite a change from the daily city chaos in Maputo!

Mozambique’s Ethnic Groups

Swahili Women

A few weeks ago I wrote about Barrio Mafalala, a Maputo neighborhood of “zinc, wooden houses, and unpaved streets”. Mafalala emerged in the 20th century and has great historical importance – before and after Mozambique’s independence in 1975.

Makonde Mask

Mafalala’s population consists of immigrants from all over Mozambique and is sometimes called a “hybrid culture”. Within the dense, diverse barrio, each ethnic group maintains a distinct “neighborhood” identity. The neighborhoods represent the:

Ndau Mask


Local languages are the standard, meaning that “not everyone within the country can communicate with each other”.


“Most Mozambicans belong to the Bantu ethnolinguistic family indigenous to Southern and Central Africa. This ethnic family “makes up the most of Africa’s population south of the Sahara“.

Lomwe Women

Historically, Mozambique experienced eras of Bantu, Swahili, and Portuguese rule. Portugal was the first European power to colonize the African continent. The Portuguese ruled Mozambique from 1498 to 1974. In Mozambique, colonization clearly didn’t unite the indigenous people.

Ndau Sculpture by Zechariah Njobo


Mozambique’s fight for independence followed by a long civil war resulted in ethnic groups identifying within themselves, not as part of a united country.


Ngoni Girls

Even though Portuguese is Mozambique’s official language, it’s only spoken by about a quarter of the population, often as a second language. Mozambique’s language differences combined with poor transportation between regions helped create limited communication and a lack of national identity within the country.

Yao Wood Carvings

Mozambique’s primary ethnic groups include:

  1. Makua / Lomwe
  2. Tsonga / Shangaan (Shangana)
  3. Makonde
  4. Shona
  5. Sena
  6. Ndau
  7. Yao
  8. Swahili
  9. Chopi
  10. Ngoni
  11. European / Mestiço
  12. South Asian – Indian and Chinese

Ndau Dancers


The Makua are the largest ethnic group in Mozambique. They’re dominant in northern Mozambique, southern Tanzania, and the Republic of the Congo. There are “various dialects among the Makua, all traceable to one language spoken over 1,000 years ago”. Many Makua speak Portuguese.

Makonde Woman with Face Painting


The Lomwe and Makua are related. Together they make up almost forty percent of Mozambique’s population. The Lomwe practice a form of “body modification called scarification”, where they “scar symbolic designs into their bodies”. The Lomwe’s ancient practice of scarification is dying out in Mozambique but gaining popularity in the modern world of body art in the U.S. and other countries.

Shangaan Girls

Tsonga (Shangaan / Shangana)

Tsonga live mainly in southern Mozambique. They’re a “sister tribe to the Shangaan people who live in South Africa’s Northern Provinces”.

Makonde Mask

Traditionally the Tsonga are farmers. Their culture and economy focus on “pastoralism and mixed agriculture” with cassava as the main crop. Polygamy is prevalent in Tsonga culture, and the ruling king holds absolute authority over his people.

Tsonga Dancers

Shangaan developed from a mixture of Bantu-speaking people, including Nguni, Shona, and Chopi. Some came to Mozambique after fleeing notoriously brutal Zulu massacres led by King Shaka.

Chopi Tribeswomen Dancing


Swahili dealt mainly in African ivory, gold, slaves, and Asian cloth and beads.


Chopi Woman with Baby


The Makonde in Mozambique and Tanzania are related but separated physically by the Ruvuma River and culturally. They also have language differences.

Makua Woman Wearing Musiiro Face Mask

Makonde have a matrilineal society where women control the children and inheritances. Men move into women’s villages and homes. The Makonde are master carvers and sell their carvings throughout East Africa.

Ndau Rights of Passage Ceremony


Most Shona live in Zimbabwe, but some make their home in Mozambique’s Zambezi Valley, South Africa, Botswana, and Zambia. Over a thousand years ago, Shona ancestors built “great stone cities in Africa”.

Shona Mbira

Zimbabwe’s “mbira” is a traditional instrument of the Shona people played for over 1,000 years at religious rituals and social occasions. The mbira has 22+ metal keys mounted on a hardwood soundboard. Musicians play the keys using two thumbs to pluck down and the right forefinger to pluck up. The Shona mbira is associated with Chimurenga – “Zimbabwean popular music that delivers messages of social and political protest through Western popular styles and music of southeastern Africa”.

Shona Women


According to calculations, there are almost two million Sena in Mozambique’s Zambezi Valley. Some believe the “Sena have Jewish ancestry and descended from one of the sons of the biblical Jacob”.

Ndau Sculpture by Zechariah Njobo

Sena resisted Portuguese Colonialism and played an active role in Mozambique’s independence movement. They’re farmers who keep cattle, goats, sheep, and pigs and grow cotton, maize, mangoes, and sugar cane. They’re skilled musicians and practice “Kulowa Kufa where women marry another man or brother of a deceased husband”.

Mozambican Children


The Ndau of Mozambique live mainly in the Zambezi Valley, but spread all the way to the coast and Zimbabwe. The Ndau are excellent herbalists.

Yao Villagers

Story telling plays a big role in Ndau life, including folktales and stories told through ceramic sculpture images. Zechariah Njobo is a popular Ndau sculptor from Zimbabwe known for his carvings of animal-like birds, owls, and elephants.

Ngoni Dancers


The Yao people in Mozambique live in small villages between the Ruvuma and Lugenda Rivers. A “head man, chosen through matrilineal succession, leads each village”. The Yao maintain an agricultural society, “using slash-and-burn techniques for growing their staple crops – maize and sorghum”.

Zechariah Njobo, Ndau Sculptor

The Yao have lived in the northwestern Mozambique’s Niassa Province for hundreds of years. When Arabs first arrived in Africa, they traded with the Yao in exchange for clothes and guns. Their involvement in trade made them one of the richest and most influential groups in Southern Africa.

Chopi Woman


The Swahili people are more numerous in Kenya, Tanzania, and the Zanzibar Archipelago, but some live in northern Mozambique. They speak Swahili, follow Islam, and wear traditional Islamic dress.

Yao Women

Unlike most Africans who are rural farmers with their own indigenous religions, many Swahili are urban dwellers with a literate Muslim civilization. Swahili merchants often live in elaborately designed and furnished houses. Unlike merchants, Swahili farmers and fishermen live in coastal villages where they build towns around a central mosque attended by the men (women aren’t allowed to enter mosques).

Ndau Sculpture by Zechariah Njobo

For centuries, the Swahili People were merchants in the ancient commerce between the interior of Africa and the countries of the Indian Ocean. Swahili identity is unique, but not always the same. The Swahili have “never formed a single ‘polity’ but are a cluster of groups each with its own occupation, way of life, and ranked position”. These Swahili groups include descendants of the original merchants:

Chopi Women


The Chopi of Mozambique are related to the Tonga. Their symbol is the elephant. Traditionally they lived in the southern Zavala district in Inhambane Province. Mozambique’s civil war and droughts greatly reduced the number of Chopi. Many moved to cities far away from their family and homelands.

Ndau Midwives with Herbs


UNESCO describes Chopi music as a “masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity”.


Chopi were part of the Sofala and Gaza Empire founded by the Nguni traditional ruler Chief Nxamba. Mbila and timbila (plural of mbila) are musical instruments like large xylophones. They’re traditional Chopi instruments that have flourished in Africa. The sound they produce is a combination of xylophone, horns, rattles, and flute. These musical instruments are an iconic symbol representing all of Mozambique.

Praia do Tofo Mozambique

In August an annual Timbila festival takes place in the Zavala District’s beach town of Tofo, a UNESCO world heritage site. The festival is “supported by the Gil Vicente live music venue and the One Ocean New Year’s Music festival “. The festival opens and closes with the region’s traditional music.

Ndau Sculpture by Zachariah Njobo


The Ngoni can be traced back to South Africa’s Zulus who moved north following social reorganization in their home region. They practice an ethnic religion deeply rooted in their identity, including superstitions, ancestor worship, and witchcraft.

Map Zambezi River Basin

European, European-Descendant, Mestiço Population

The European and European-descendant population of Mozambique is a big “part of the country’s demographics”. Portugal left a strong colonial legacy in Mozambique, and Portuguese is the official language. Many British and Portuguese left the country after Mozambique gained independence in 1975, but a small number remained, along with a larger mestiço population of mixed African and Portuguese heritage.



Timbila Musical Instrument


South Asian – Indian and Chinese

India’s links with Mozambique go back “over half a millennium”. Indian Muslim traders from Malabar “plied the Indian Ocean trade routes”. Vasco da Gama found Hindu traders in Mozambique during his first visit in 1499. The Portuguese were the first to engage in the transatlantic slave trade in the 16th century.

African Girl of Macau Ethnicity


By the 1800s, Indian merchants cooperating with Portuguese shippers became active in the slave trade.


Africans of Asian Ethnicity

Chinese people began settling in Mozambique in the 1870s. Portuguese colonialists went to China and “recruited Chinese carpenters and unskilled laborers in Macao to work on railway construction”. Asian migration “halted in 1899 due to an outbreak of plague, blamed on Indians”. Many Asians started as carpenters but moved into shopkeeping. They established community associations and educated their children in Chinese-language schools.

Chinese Mozambicans

Tribalism in Africa

Tribalism in Africa is a heady subject – at least for me. I’ve traveled throughout the African continent for many years. During each trip I learn more about the countries, their history, strengths, contributions, and economic / social issues. Tribalism is something I’ve just started learning about. It’s a fascinating subject, especially in Mozambique – a unique, complex, and enthralling country!

Tonga Girls

Back to Cape Town

I’m happy to be returning to Cape Town tomorrow! In Africa, it’s the closest thing to home for me, and there will be people to visit and interesting things to do.

Map of Mozambique

Inhaca Island Mozambique

Vilanculos Island Vogue Magazine

I’ve spent most of my time in Mozambique exploring Maputo, a busy, interesting African city. After touring isolated Seychelles, Durban, and South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal beaches, it was fun to be in a vibrant city again. There’s lots of history and culture in Maputo, and the diverse population is fascinating. I’ve enjoyed my time here, and after a month gained an understanding of Mozambique’s history, culture, and people.

Maputo Highrises

People come to Mozambique to visit its islands and archipelagos – Bazaruto and Quirimbas – known for their coral reefs and marine life. Since I’m leaving Mozambique this week, I decided to take a day tour of Inhaca Island, about 20 miles from Maputo.

Fishing Boats Near Maputo-Catembe Bridge

Maputo Yachting

Getting to Inhaca can be complicated. There are three ways to do it – ferry, plane, or boat, and all three are subject to cancellation, depending on the weather. The flight takes 15 minutes, the ferry (if it’s running that day) takes several hours. Boat options range from small crowded refugee-like vessels to wooden dhows and luxury yachts.

Catamaran Umoja

I decided to go with Maputo Yachting’s comfortable catamaran Umoja. The day trip was reasonably priced, and I only had to get to Porto de Pesca with a swim suit, hat, and sunscreen – no connections, transfers, or other complications.

Porto de Pesca Maputo

Day Trip Catamaran Umoja 

The day didn’t disappoint! Catamaran Umoja (meaning unity in Swahili) was fantastic, and the interesting people onboard were easy to talk with and fun. Although slightly overcast, the day was pleasant. A day of full-on sun would have been uncomfortable.

Sailing Group


Pondering the Sea

Sailing Group Approaching Portuguese Island

Our European Captain – Wilhelm – was from Norway. Two of his friends – Norwegian and Dutch – joined the outing and helped with various tasks. In addition to the captain and his friends, there were two other crew members.

Portuguese Island

It was a fast-moving day. Passengers included three young Mozambican women – twin sisters with a friend, German, Portuguese, and Belgian couples, and me. Except for the Germans, everyone was living in Maputo. The diverse group was great company. If I weren’t leaving Maputo in a few days, I would enjoy spending more time with them.

Portuguese Island

One woman was an artist collaborating with a local Mozambican sculptor – Lorenzo – to create a relief-like mural. Her husband works with African non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and had been on a project in Ethiopia, where they lived for several years. They talked of Ethiopian life and politics.

Dune Portuguese Island

Ethiopia is in messy political turmoil. The government imposed a six-month “state of emergency” after prolonged anti-government protests and the resignation of the Prime Minister. Protests prompted the release of political prisoners but ongoing demonstrations raise serious concerns about Ethiopia’s stability.

Boats Portuguese Island

After listening to Europeans living in Maputo, I’ve learned that many have traveled extensively throughout Africa and accept the continent’s abundant difficulties and unfortunate inequities. Despite many often-disturbing realities, they do what they can to make a positive difference and enjoy the excitement and unknowns that come with living in Africa. It surprised me to hear Norwegians talk about the “boredom” of living in their country, rated as one of the most desirable places in the world.

Inhaca Heron

Pink-Backed Pelicans

A Dutch member of the group was married to a lovely African woman. They have several children. A creative director, he told me of performances he’s directed.

Mozambican Woman in Capulana

People I’ve met in Maputo were regular visitors to Mali. They’re sad the country is no longer safe for travelers. Al-Qaeda and armed Islamist groups have taken control of parts of the country “imposing Sharia (Islamic law) by threatening villagers, recruiting children, destroying schools, and beating those who engage in forbidden practices”.

Umoja Mast

The conversations were interesting, and I was glad to meet other people who share my fascination with Africa – but I’m digressing, so back to the boat trip. As the wind picked up, we hoisted a sail and glided to our first stop, Portuguese Island (Inhaca).

Portuguese Island

Uninhabited Portuguese Island is less than a 2-hour sail from Maputo at the end of Maputo Bay. At one time, the desert island was a leper colony. Now, it’s part of the Inhaca Marine Reserve. The narrow island is 4 miles long with low vegetation.

Sue Approaching Portuguese Island

My hat blew off on the boat and is now somewhere beneath the sea, so instead of hiking with little sun protection, I opted to swim. The boat didn’t have equipment, so there was no snorkeling – never forget to ask enough questions in Maputo!

Pemba Woman

There’s a kiosk on the beach for cruise ship guests. Although a cruise ship anchored nearby, few people came ashore, and there were no beach umbrellas or chairs. I talked to local vendors and almost bought another capulana (sarong), but came to my senses after thinking about an already bulging suitcase. I bought the only hat available – a baseball cap locally made with colorful Mozambican fabric – not much sun protection, but a fabulous memento.


Loggerhead Sea Turtle


 Mozambique’s archipelagos are home to the only viable population of dugongs on Africa’s east coast.


Santa Maria Island

Bazaruto Archipelago

Bazaruto Archipelago

Swimming in the Indian Ocean is heaven, and we watched small pods of dolphins come near us playing close to shore. I swam back to the boat, while others took the dingy.

Dhow Mozambique Channel

We enjoyed lunch aboard Umoja, including the best bruschetta I’ve eaten prepared by Michael, a Dutch chef and friend of the captain. The meal was a delicious curry served with salad and rice.

Island Scene Mozambique

Quirimbas Archipelago Sailing

Inhaca Island

After lunch we continued to Inhaca – pronounced “In-ya-ca”. Populated by local Mozambicans, the island has a few rustic restaurants, wildlife, and pristine forests. I noticed several large, interesting birds but couldn’t get good photos. White herons with long gangling legs and necks were hanging all over the trees. After months of travel, I’m burnt out on photos and use some media shots in this post.

Lodge Inhaca Island

We walked the island, enjoyed craft displays, and stopped for a cold drink at a pub. Much to my dismay, during our hike a huge sea-bird flying overhead pooped on me ; ( ! My companions assured me it was a sign of good luck – not so sure about that…

Quirimbas Archipelago

Inhaca Island is understandably popular for water sports. Locals and tourists alike enjoy diving, swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, windsurfing, and fishing. If you don’t have your own equipment, it’s difficult finding rentals. We didn’t explore the “wilder side“, of Inhaca – a dive site known for its coral reefs, crashing surf, and deep blue sea.

Pangane Beach Cabo Delgado – Ricardo Miguel


Bazaruto Archipelago National Park was established to protect habitats and marine fauna.


Mozambique Channel

Warm water currents in Mozambique Channel between Africa and Madagascar, encourage diverse marine life, including sea turtles, dolphins, endangered dugongs, manta rays, and whales. I’ve heard that dive sites on Santa Maria Reef include unforgettable, mesmerizing underwater caves and shipwrecks.

Inhaca Island Dive Map

Deep-water habitats in the Channel include mangroves, coral reefs, sandy beaches, rocky shorelines, and mysterious seagrass beds. Five different types of threatened marine turtles nest along the Channel. They’ve remained safe for years:

Inhaca Island

Bazaruto Archipelago

Vilanculos District is the gateway to Bazaruto Archipelago – a chain of four islands, Bazaruto, Benguerra, Santa Isobel, and Santa Carolina. The area’s marine life is protected by Bazaruto Archipelago National Park (BANP).

Bazaruto Archipelago


The Vahoka people occupy Bazaruto Archipelago’s islands. Vahoka speak their mother tongue, Chihoca, and live in seven villages throughout the islands.


Inhaca Island Tree

These are the archipelago’s four seasons:

  • December to March – hot, humid, rain, cyclones
  • September to November – dry days, cool nights
  • June to August – fresh, dry, clear days, cool nights
  • April to May – dry, clear skies, no rain

Ibo Island Quirimbas Archipelago

Quirimbas Archipelago

The Port of Pemba in northern Mozambique is the access point for Quirimbas Archipelago with 12 isolated islands and 20 coralline outcrops. Pemba is the capital of Cabo Delgado Province. There are remote lodges on the archipelago, but getting to them is costly and difficult. Local tour operators are more than willing to handle the logistics and plan pricey all-inclusive luxury holidays.

Sand Bank Rescue

Pemba’s coral reefs are near the shore and “protrude into the Bay of Pemba.” It’s the starting point for Quirimbas National Park which is inhabited by endangered dolphins, whales, and dugongs. I would love to spend time exploring Quirimbas, but it’s beyond my budget as a solo traveler.

Sand Bank Rescue

Trip Back to Maputo and a Sand Bank Rescue

I wanted to keep swimming, but the others thought we should go. We said goodbye to Inhaca and headed back to Maputo. Tropical storms develop quickly, and thunderstorms with lightning, wind, and heavy rain were on the way.

Inhaca Island Beach

As if our day hadn’t been indulgent enough, fresh pastries were waiting for us on the boat! Some in the group sang their humorous versions of African and German songs. The only one left unsung was Whiskey Leave Me Alone! The warm sun and swaying catamaran made us feel sleepy, and several fell asleep on the deck.

Evening Sky1

Maputo Scarlet Evening Sky

Maputo Evening Sky

About an hour into the trip back, the captain received a distress call from a boat stuck in a sand bank closer to Maputo. The passengers – 80 Mozambicans on a “drinks included” trip – were celebrating a birthday and partying all day. With everyone’s agreement, the captain proceeded to their rescue.

Maputo City Lights

Getting stuck in a sand bank isn’t unusual in Maputo Bay. When it happens, boats wait until the tide rises to get free, and this can involve as long as a six-hour wait! Sharing Umoja with the boisterous group was fun but certainly a roust from our peaceful sail. We laughed and partied with them – they brought their own bass-heavy music. We made it back to Maputo port at about 7:30 pm.

Tanker at Night

Our late arrival provided an unexpected surprise – beautiful views of Maputo’s city lights along the skyline! Clouds hid the sunset, but vivid scarlet pink streamed across the skyline – a perfect ending to an idyllic day!

Mozambican Artists

Malangatana Valente Ngwenya

I’m exploring areas of Maputo on foot with no particular area or itinerary in mind. Lately, I’ve been learning about Mozambican artists and photographers and visiting a few galleries. The heat is daunting, and there have been several big storms – the air almost feels liquid! Communicating with taxi drivers here is difficult, so walking is the best way to experience the city despite heavy erratic traffic, sidewalks with huge potholes, and uneven pavement.

Nii Obodai Photography

Maputo tours are expensive and there’s a hierarchy of who leads which ones. Although I appreciate the knowledge and experience local tour guides share, the barrage of information for someone who has traveled for such a long time is too much. It’s easier giving it a go on my own, and the outings have never been boring.

Malangatana Valente Ngwenya

Adiodato Gomes Photography

Nii Obodai Photographer

Nii Obodai’s exhibit – Paradox of Paradise – is showing at the French Cultural Center. From Ghana, Obodai lives part-time in Maputo. In his words, this exhibition “explores his relationship with the environment as a living and mythological space bound by oral and historical stories”. Obodai’s photography studies the “aspects of complex relationships between urban and rural culture”.

Nii Obodai Photographer

Nii Obodai

His work has been exhibited at festivals in Ethiopia and Mali, the Guggenheim Museum in New York, French Alliance in Accra, Ghana, Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and Moesegaard Museum Aarhus, Denmark.

Nii Obodai

Adiodato Gomes Photographer

Adiodato Gomes’ exhibition –  Psychedelic, Beyond Hairstyle norms – was on display at Maputo’s Fundação Fernando Leite Couto (FLLC) Gallery last year and is appearing at 16 Neto gallery through March 5, 2018.

Adiodato Gomes Photographer

Gomes is known as a “passionate Mozambican photographer”. Another exhibition, Luvano, contains “a set of studio photographs depicting a pregnant woman”.  The goal of his exhibition is “sensitizing society to the need to value life and multiculturalism, emphasizing the role of the arts in this process”.

Adiodato Gomes – Luvano

Adiodato Gomes – Luvano

Adiodato Gomes – Luvano

Adiodato Gomes

The exhibit includes 17 photographs of a single model, Thobile Magagula. In this exhibit, Gomes used body paint to “enhance appreciation of the female body”. He named the project Luvano after the model’s son.

Gomes – Psychedelic, Beyond Hairstyle norms

Gomes – Psychedelic, Beyond Hairstyle norms

Gomes – Psychedelic, Beyond Hairstyle norms

Paulo Alexandre Photographer

Paulo Alexandre’s works are on display at the Fernando Leite Couto Foundation Gallery. His photography emphasizes fashion and corporate advertising.

Paulo Alexandre Photographer

Alexandre has also been involved in digital printing, documentaries, and travel photography, with subjects like Monte Binga, Mozambique’s highest point near the Zimbabwe border, the Amazon River, and Gorongosa National Park. He has published several highly praised photography books, including Photar Moçambique.

Paulo Alexandre

Filipe Branquinho Photographer, Visual Artist

In November 2017, Filipe Branquinho opened a one-man exhibition called Botânica at the Fernando Leite Couto Foundation. The show “singles out emotions and the colors and shades that pass through the seasons from earth to sky”. He represented the seasons by “trees, the flight of birds, and the creeping along of snakes and pangolins“. Regret that I wasn’t able to see his exhibit.

Filipe Branquinho Photographer and Visual Artist

Filipe Branquinho was born in Maputo where he lives and works. He grew up during Mozambique’s Civil War in an “environment closely linked to the worlds of journalism and arts”. He became involved in photography through contact with well-known Mozambican authors, photographers, and photojournalists like Ricardo Rangel, Kok Nam, and José Cabral.

Botânica Paulo Alexandre and Mauro Vombe

Filipe Branquinho

“A self-taught photographer, Branquinho studied architecture at Eduardo Mondlane University in Maputo and the State University of Londrina, Brazil. A multi-talented artist, he also paints, draws, and illustrates.”

Filipe Branquinho – Occupations

Filipe Branquinho – Occupations

One of his long-term projects, Occupations, is a “fresco seen through the prism of its working people and their environments”. Branquinho carefully composed the photos to show “how people work, where they work, and that they work with a lot of dignity.”

Filipe Branquinho – Occupations

Roberto Carneiro de Alcáçovas de Sousa Chichorro Artist

Roberto Chichorro “devoted himself to paintings expressing childhood stories, his memories, and the worlds of wonder, terror, witchcraft, animals, music, and laughter”.

Roberto Carneiro de Alcáçovas de Sousa Chichorro Artist

Chichorro’s paintings also portray “the armed struggle during Mozambique’s Revolution, social repression between the 1940s and the early 1970s, and the color and liveliness of Africans”.

Roberto Chichorro

Roberto Chichorro

His works are in several institutions, including the Museums of Contemporary Art in Lisbon and Luanda. He illustrated several books, including one for well-known Mozambican poet, journalist, and activist José Craveirinha.

Roberto Chichorro

Roberto Chichorro, Karingana III Flores para um Luar Azul (2008)

Malangatana Valente Ngwenya Painter, Poet

Malangatana Valente Ngwenya is known as “Mozambique’s greatest painter”. He was born in a small rural town in the south. Malangatana moved to Maputo at the age of 12 where he met biologist and amateur painter Augusto Cabral and architect Pancho Guedes. The two became instrumental in his education and career as an artist.

Malangatana Valente Ngwenya

Malangatana Valente Ngwenya

At 25, Malangatana had his first solo exhibition entitled Juizo Final (Final Judgment), depicting the “brutality of life under Portuguese colonial rule” and political turmoil in Mozambique. After multiparty elections in 1994, Malangatana’s work began depicting a “more hopeful phase of Mozambican history”.

Malangatana Valente Ngwenya  Painter and Poet

Malangatana Valente Ngwenya Painter and Poet

Malangatana was imprisoned for 18 months for supporting the independence struggle as a member of the Liberation Front of Mozambique (Frelimo).

Malangatana Valente Ngwenya

Malangatana’s artistic works can be found in exhibits in Portugal, India, Chile, France, London, Brazil, and the USA. He was “awarded the Nachingwea Medal for his Contribution to Mozambican Culture”.

Malangatana Valente Ngwenya

In 1997 Malangatana was named a UNESCO Artist for Peace. He helped establish Mozambique’s cultural institutions, including the National Museum of Art, Centre for Cultural Studies, and Centre for the Arts. He died in Portugal in 2011.

Malangatana Valente Ngwenya Blue Phase

Malangatana Valente Ngwenya Blue Phase

Malangatana Valente Ngwenya Blue Phase

Kok Nam Photojournalist

Kok Nam was a humanist and considered one of the fathers of Mozambican photojournalism. He was known as “the eye of Mozambique and a creator of the Mozambican nation”. Nam came from the Chinese province of Canton. During his career, he covered the Civil War and worked for several newspapers including The African Voice and Savana News.

Kok Nam – Espólio

Name died in 2012 at the age of 72. Mozambican Minister of Culture Armando Artur “sought the image of the baobab tree, a giant tree in the center of the country, to characterize Kok Nam as one of the great men of the Mozambican arts and culture”.

Kok Nam – El Pais

Naguib Elias Abdula Painter and Muralist

Naguib Elias Abdula is one of Mozambique’s most renowned artists. He was a painter and muralist during the 1970s, “a decade of revolutions, heroes, and change”. His work has been exhibited at the United Nations Headquarters and the Vatican.

Naguib Elias Abdula Painter and Muralist

“Naguib’s entrance into the art world was a result of the political and social changes of 1974. Historical moments inspired a raft of artists and changed the centuries-old drama of colonial oppression in Mozambique, Angola, Cape Verde, São Tomé, and Guinea-Bissau.”

Naguib Elias Abdula


Naguib Abdula remembers, “The civil war was very violent for me, because we were confined and didn’t understand what war was and what was happening.” 


Naguib Elias Abdula

When independence came, Naguib “went out into the streets to do murals and paintings”. He remembers that the country “had an illiteracy rate of around 97 percent, and communication was often through drawings”.

Naguib Elias Abdula

José Craveirinha, known as the “poet of Mozambique”, encouraged Naguib to become an artist. At the time, a “newborn Mozambican nation was still overcoming its armed struggle for national liberation.”

Naguib Elias Abdula

In 1976, Portuguese colonial forces led by Samora Moisés Machel returned to fight what became the 16-year war. The “conflict between the Liberation Front of Mozambique’s (FRELIMO) army and the National Mozambican Resistance (RENAMO) plunged the country into social and economic chaos driving thousands of people towards famine and death”.

Naguib Elias Abdula Mural Maputo