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The city of Ilha de Moçambique, in Nampula province, is hosting a visual arts workshop marking the start of the island’s second centenary celebrations, scheduled for September 17 next year. The event will include painting, children’s drawing, ceramics and sculptures made from wood and recycled material.
Artist Paulo César Magalhães says the workshop in the Corredor dos Arcos is the combined initiative of three Mozambican artists based in Maputo, Nampula and Ilha de Moçambique, sponsored by arts organisation Traços e Tons.
In addition to celebrating the 200 years of the Island of Mozambique, the idea is to create initiatives of this nature outside Maputo, exploring other ways of arousing interest to artists and the public and thus promote cultural tourism.
“We also want to get people interested in the cultural, social and anthropological history of the first capital of Mozambique, and to promote its tourist potential, while also contributing to revenue and affirm its World Heritage status,” he said.
Titos Pelembe, vice president of the Kulungwana Cultural Development Association, explains that the artists will produce a wide range of works over the seven days, mainly exploring recycled materials and culminating in a collective exhibition of the resulting artistic creations.
Helena Perestrelo is another participant of this workshop, with over 45 years of experience in the field of vidual arts, including painting postcards and portraits of children on recycled cardboard and paper using acrylic and other materials.
For her, this is an opportunity to interact with other Mozambican artists, exchange experiences and, above all, see other dynamics and mechanisms of artistic production.
Ilha de Moçambique has scheduled several artistic and cultural nature events to celebrate this year’s anniversary on September 17. The Arcos Corridor, where the workshop will take place, is easily accessible in the old part of the Island of Mozambique and has been refurbished to host events of an artistic and cultural nature.
The island city of Ilha de Moçambique, which gave the country is name, is a municipality in the province of Nampula with an elected local government. It acquired city status in 1818 and was the first capital of Mozambique, until 1822.
Located on a coral reef, the Island is connected to the mainland by a 3.80 km long bridge designed by engineer Edgar Cardoso. Built in the 1960s, the bridge has recently undergone major restoration works.
When Vasco da Gama arrived in 1498, the island was ruled by the Sultan of Zanzibar and used by the Arabs in their trade with the Red Sea, Persia, India and the islands of the Indian Ocean. Thanks to its strategic geographical situation, the city soon became a mandatory stopover point for round trips between Lisbon and Goa, and a profitable commercial warehouse.
The interest revealed by other European powers justified the construction of its vast and valuable architectural heritage, which began in 1507 when the Portuguese built the Tower of St. Gabriel, today part of the Palace of the Captain General.
Classified as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in 1991, the city has, among other valuable monuments, the Chapel of Our Lady of the Baluarte, dated 1522, at the north end of the island (the only example of Manueline architecture in Mozambique). There is also the Fortress of St. Sebastian, the largest in Southern Africa, which was erected between 1588 and 1620, with stones from ships’ ballast, some of which are still visible on the nearest beach.
The island is divided in two parts: the “Stone City” in the north where the main monuments are located, and “Macuti City” in the south, where buildings are made from coconut palms. Most residents live by fishing, with some agricultural activity and handicrafts.
The present population are mainly descendants of Bantu immigrants, but the centuries of Arab influence is still evident today in the local language, Naharsa.
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