Mozambique is a truly unique country characterized by a relatively short history when compared to most African countries. It has had a heavy foreign influence because of colonialization, and this has infused itself into almost every aspect of the country starting from language, religion, cuisine and their National holidays. The one aspect where Mozambique has retained their history prior to colonialization is in their customs and traditions. It will be worthwhile to get into a little bit of detail about each of these aspects as we explore the rich culture of Mozambique.


The official language of Mozambique is Portugese. More than 50% of the population speaks Portugese. English is sparingly spoken on major cities such as the capital, Maputo and that too is major establishments and Government offices. There are a few traditional languages such as Emakhuwa (which is spoken by more people than English – 25.3%) and Xichangana (10.3%)


The native religion is called ‘Animism’
The Portugese influence is most heavily felt in the practice of religion in Mozambique. The major religion is Christianity and mostly Roman Catholic. Around 30.3% of the population is Christian. There are a variety of other religions practiced in minority such Muslim, Zionism and Hinduism. The native religion is called ‘Animism’ and is practiced in some fringes and rural areas. Both language and religion have a combined influence on the cuisines of Mozambique, which we will be seeing next.


Another famous dish in Mozambique is ‘Matapa
The cuisine of Mozambique, apart from colonial impact is also heavily influenced by the long shoreline, making abundant supply of seafood a vital ingredient of their most famous dishes. People in Mozambique consume cassava or rice or cornmeal dough as a staple. This is generally accompanied by a flavorful and sometime spicy stew. Different varieties of shellfish are pretty common in Mozambique. One of their most commonly made dish is any kind of meat with spicy ‘Peri-Peri’ sauce. ‘Peri-Peri’ is basically a spicy sauce that can accompany just about any kind of meat, be it fish, prawns or chicken. Another famous dish in Mozambique is ‘Matapa’ made from cassava leaf, shrimp, crab, coconut milk and cashews. People of Mozambique indulge in palm wine (Shema) every once in a while.


The one area where the Portugese influence is the least is in the realm of arts. Mozambique has a varied art scene ranging from objects of religious expressions to those used in symbols of Mozambique checkered history in the recent past. Some of the more popular musical instruments are drums made of animal skin, the ‘Marimba’ which is a kind of xylophone. Music in Mozambique is dominated by rhythms and beats which is something common to most African countries. The inevitable physical expression is one of slow beats generally going for long durations, more widely known as ‘Reggae’. Another aspect of culture in Mozambique is the popularity of wooden carvings, sometimes in the form of elaborate masks. Some of these masks are used in elaborate rituals and women are not allowed to touch them.
Just like their music and carvings, their music is also elaborate and more tuned for group dances, which can be made up of men and women. All of the above is but one slice of Mozambique. The culture of Mozambique is as unique as their national flag with an AK47 in it. It leaves much to be delighted from and is best experienced in person.