Customs and traditions
In Mozambique, much of one’s reputation is decided on how to handle social situations, but although there is much to adapt to, Mozambicans are generally open and easy going. The food is often traditional and varies widely locally. The national symbols have been dictated by the ruling party, and are highly politicized.
How to greet
Health often takes a long time and includes questions about how the respective families are feeling. Handling is common. But people can also say hello and say goodbye with kisses on the cheeks, but not men in between. Men nod or shake hands. If they know each other well they can give a hug or pat on the shoulder.
- Countryaah: Overview of the capital city of Mozambique, including information about its population, economy, geography, history and map.
It is important to be properly presented. At the first meeting, the host or colleague is formally presented by name. In workplaces people can pretend that they have not seen one until they have been formally presented. When meeting superiors, it is important that the presentation is done in the right way and in the right place.
Although everyone is expected to come to work on time, people are often late. You may also be absent from work due to illness, family responsibilities or funerals, which are common due to the AIDS epidemic.
When talking to someone you should keep arm’s length, but Mozambique does not require as much space as Europeans. You do not have to have eye contact, and whether or not you touch each other depends on the relationship you have. Colleagues should not be touched when talking to them, but with friends it goes well. Two men or two women can walk and hold each other’s hands. It is not common for women and men to touch each other unless they have a close relationship.
According to Abbreviationfinder, Mozambican people usually have a lot of humor and like jokes and anecdotes. They like to talk with gestures, and it is okay to point to others when talking to. A manager may look an employee in the eye, but the employee may look down with respect. The same thing often happens between older and younger people, or when a man is talking to a woman – the woman is looking down into the ground.
At work, you speak first. Politics should not be talked about the first time, and do not ask where anyone came from or where they lived during the war, as it is tense between north and south (see below). Instead, you can start talking about prices in the market, the weather or the food. When the relationship has developed, you can ask about health, family and the like.
Managers have a lot of prestige and one should not oppose their decisions, especially not others. As a newcomer to the country, one should be careful. Relationships that may appear uncomplicated on the surface can be very complex in themselves.
It is not part of the culture to have personal relationships at work, but it is important to show kindness, for example, to ask how colleagues’ families are doing. It is not common for men and women to be friends. Such relationships are expected to lead to more than friendship.
You can show affection in public, but it is more common in cities than in rural areas. Couples do not like to kiss each other openly, but among young people it occurs.
Cassava and corn are basic foods for rural people. Cassava can be baked, dried in the sun or mashed with water to a kind of porridge. The most common is to grind the cassava roots together with corn and mix with cassava leaves and water into a dough, which is served in gourd.
A popular dish is food monkey. Leaves from cassava or pumpkin are mixed with a stew of coconut milk and crushed peanuts and seasoned with fresh or dried shrimp, crabs or small fish. It is served with rice or xima, a thick corn porridge. In the province of Zambezi you eat mucuane, which is similar to mata monkeys but is drier and mixed with green papaya.
Along the coast, the food is more varied than inland. Fruit and rice are common as are fish, such as salted and dried cod and grilled seafood. Palm wine, shena, is a popular drink.
At feasts, parties and religious rites, meals are part of the celebration. The vast majority of poor people usually eat the same food at a party as usual.
In the cities, the men wear western costumes and the women wear dresses with colorful African patterns. In the office it is important to be clean and neatly dressed.
In the countryside, the traditional long shirt has largely been replaced with t-shirt and dashiki, a colorfully patterned shirt that reaches down to the thighs. The women have usually retained the traditional long piece of fabric wrapped around the body, under the arms and over a shoulder. They have also retained the shawl or turban. Most young people wear western clothes.
Upholstery can mark ethnic and religious identity. Muslims in the north wear traditional long robes and headgear. Asian men wear two-piece white cotton clothing, while Asian women wear black or colored silk dresses.
Holidays and national symbol
According to Countryaah, important holidays are New Year’s Day, Heroes’ Day (February 3), Women’s Day (April 7), Independence Day (June 25), Anniversary of the War of Independence (September 7), and Christmas Day or Family Day (December 25).
The country’s flag has three horizontal bands – one green, one black and one yellow. On the left edge of the straps is a red triangle with a yellow five-pointed star, a book, a hack and a Kalashnikov rifle, making it the only national flag in the world containing a firearm. The flag is based on the Frelimos banner of the liberation movement, and the opposition within Renamo wants to introduce a more politically neutral national symbol.
The infrastructure in Mozambique was built for colonial conditions. The transport routes go from coastal countries to the Mozambican ports. Too few resources have previously been placed on north-south links within the country. Nowadays, however, major investments are being made in the development, among other things with the help of assistance.
In 2009, a bridge across the Zambezi River was opened. The bridge, which had been under construction for more than three decades, greatly facilitated communications between southern and northern Mozambique. The project was mainly paid for with foreign aid. In 2010, a bridge was also opened across the Rovuma River between Mozambique and Tanzania. The bridge was built by Chinese companies and is expected to have a significant impact on trade and tourism in the region.
The economically important railway from the coalfields in the west to the port of Beira was destroyed in the Civil War (c. 1980-1994). The upgrading of the railway has taken off at the time, but was completed in 2013. A 900 kilometer long railway from the coal district in the northwest through Malawi to the port of Nacala in the north was expected to be completed in 2015.
A number of countries use the ports of Maputo, Beira and Nacala for freight services, and the same applies to the railways from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Malawi. The ports and railways have been important sources of income ever since the colonial period. Maputo’s port is one of Africa’s largest and was privatized in 2003. Since the turn of the millennium, major port investments have been made, and the country hopes that the deep port of Nacala will become South Africa’s largest transhipment terminal.
The road network covers about 3000 km, of which about 700 km are paved. The roads are in poor condition, especially in northern Mozambique. Extensive upgrading has taken place since the turn of the millennium with the help of aid. The construction of a highway connecting the northern parts of the country with the south was completed by the middle of the 2010s.
Mozambique has about 20 airports; in eight of them there is foreign traffic. The state-owned airline LAM flies directly to Lisbon, otherwise international flights are mainly via South Africa. Extensive renovation of the airports in Maputo, Pemba, Nacala-Porto and Tete began a few years into the 2010s.
The mobile phone network is still underdeveloped and mobile phones are used to a much lower degree than in many other parts of Africa.
Twelve Renamo supporters killed
Protests against alleged cheating in a parliamentary election end in violent clashes with police in Cabo Delgado Province in the northeast. Twelve Renamo supporters are killed in the riots.