First things first: I go and meet the big boss (community leader) and from there I have good guidance on what I’m doing in that community. I meet the crafters who are usually elders and with them I have the most fun, investigating all about the culture, the art and crafts.
We walk around sometimes for many kilometers, discovering or recognizing raw materials to work with. I learn so much about my culture, and discovering artifacts that you don’t see any more in the market.
My commitment is to bring these back, to preserve our culture and celebrate them for the beautiful pieces of art that they are.
Our work strategy is to join with the communities and use the raw materials easily available. For now, we are working with two different communities for fiber weaving in Chigubo district (inland, Gaza province) around Banhine National Park and in Linga-Linga on the coast of Inhambane bay.
Women wake up in the early mornings, before sunrise and go to the bush for their raw materials for craft production.
Some women have to walk many kilometers for these materials, even coming back home the next day because of the distances in the forest. We use palm fibers, wood, natural dyes, leather and steel accessories to produce our products. We source 90% of the raw materials in Mozambique mainly from the communities.
Marcia is a sincere environmentalist. She participates in all trainings, making sure that good harvesting practices are followed. Two or three times a year she goes to the field herself with the ladies for the harvest of the raw materials.
Modern urban society might think it knows best, but people in the communities definitely know better how to live in, depend on, and take care of nature. Knowledge about materials and resources is generations-deep. We must learn from rural people how to live ecologically and respect the natural landscapes around us.
On invitation from MAKOBO, I worked with women and men in the refugee camp for a month, using our local resources to create products and income for their families. Dathonga and KHETHU financed my expenses and key materials like dyes and leather.
Thanks to my amazing husband: before I left home, he said “We need to talk, just you and me.” We sat and he said, “Baby, you know where you are going? I’m sure you do, but I know how sensitive you are, and how you will be crying all day. That does not work if you want to help the people there. The stories coming from there are horrible and there is nothing you can do except listen to the ones that matter. If you try to help everyone, you will go crazy. Please go and do your job, help who you can, and come back to us safe.” That talk was the best I could have had before leaving. It made me stronger and gave me the power to help, even when crying while working.
My days in Cabo Delgado were emotionally hard, accumulating the horror and trauma of the people I met. Just days after my arrival in Cabo Delgado, a catastrophe happened in Palma. Many lives were lost and many more people arrived at the camp we were working in, fleeing their homes and leaving everything behind. It was the saddest and most shocking week in my life. But, we had to focus on our objectives – otherwise I would have come home incapable of finishing my work.
Even though we were in so much pain, we all did our best to follow the program that brought us together to help the people who lost everything including family and children in this war.
The 25 de Junho Camp in Metuge District where we work has 25 000 people, and 50% are children. Conditions are extreme and resources are minimal.
The kids don’t go to school because the neighboring schools are already too full. They have been deprived of a normal childhood because they lost their parents and family. The situation is tragic. While I was there, MAKOBO and KHETHU organized two amazing things for these children: a football league and an art and crafts workshop. The league was a success: 6 adolescents teams and 4 children’s teams were created. The European clubs Benfica and Barcelona have donated equipment for 2 teams so far. These initiatives make a big difference for the adolescents who are in the highest risk group in this war. They now have something to engage in, rather than sitting all day every day with nothing to do.
Art and crafts workshop: we had 100 kids participating for 5 days of art and crafts. Aged 4 to 14, the kids drew pictures of their sad memories of the war. These drawings shocked us: knives, helicopters, soldiers, basucas, blood, real sadness. But the kids were amazing and resilient, and did beautiful work and art. MAKOBO and KHETHU are working to continue this program – please contact them if you would like to help with what they are doing.
Africa is huge and has a lot of cultural diversity. In the last few years, the artist energy on the continent has started to thrive in new ways, with brands and artists starting to find their way out to the world in mass. Before, lots of Africans wanted just to go to Europe to make money, but lately, there is a new sense of opportunity within the continent. Immigrants are coming back home to create their own business and be entrepreneurs. This is the Africa we have today.
A Mozambican clothing brand that I love very much. They started with a range of capulana jackets that are beautifully done and creative. Today Chibaia has evolved into an exquisite clothing line that is well worth knowing.
A very good friend of mine from Maputo. He started at Nucleo de Art, learning with the best. Gonsolo became a well known creative artist, making incredible sculptures using old guns from our civil war. Now his pieces can be found all over the world with exhibitions in top galleries.
This creative lady is inspiring all of us in her creative journey. Taila is the co-founder of Ruum gallery. Not so long ago she created this amazing brand with beautiful African inspired jewelry. These are some of my favorite design products – they are a true WOW.
A Capetonean living in Mozambique. This amazing fashion designer helps us to be conscious about consumption. Lately she has been helping women revamp their wardrobes and create new pieces. Apart from loving all her beautiful pieces, I think her concepts are amazing.
Ha ha! Firstly, this is my favorite African name brand on the planet. Then I discover that it is led by a Mozambican woman – how proud can I be?! Mafastela means sunglasses, and they make the most amazing designs – check them out!
The top Mozambican brand in my opinion, RUUM has come a long way, and is now considered one of the best young design firms by Vogue and Elle home magazine. Their products are exquisite, reflecting so much of Africa, nature and our day to day life. TOP!
My cousin who I’m so proud of! Today, Taibo is in the top 10 fashion designers, with an amazing collection. His products are on runways and in shops from South African to Paris and Milan. His shops in Sandton, Johannesburg, and in Maputo are worth a visit.
The best natural cosmetics in Mozambique. Led by my friend/partner Ana Alecia Lyman, MIOMBO has an amazing natural cosmetic collection based in African seeds oils, clay, plant extracts, and beeswax. The line includes scented candles, masks, solid perfumes, lipbalms and more.
PIRATAS DO PAU
A recycled materials furniture company based in Maputo. I love all the combinations they do with old water geysers, pallets, and even water pump parts to create these amazing pieces. They have a beautiful and unique home collection. Before you buy any furniture in Maputo visit them and you will not be disappointed.
An amazing artist from Mozambique with abstract and colorful pieces. I just love all his work because somehow I find peace in his pieces. Every time I visit his atelier, there is always a sculpture he is doing that inspires me. Butcheca is one of those people who I can just go “Knock knock, someone home?” and he will open the door with a big smile, happy to see me.
Natural, fresh and amazing Mozambican teas. In Moksha, you find the African tea flavors with a mix of hibiscus, camomile and other herbs that are well known around the world. My favorite teas in their collection are IMMUNE (Cavalinha, cidreira, amoreira, Lemon and ginger) and FOCUS (Ginko Biloba, Roiboos and Lemongrass).
From my pariango! This amazing Mozambican brand is working with various materials including grass, leather, fabric and tyres to create luxury handbags that I love. Their collection showcases a range of materials and textures from Mozambique, with Linga-linga basketry, Maciene weaving and Karingane collaboration. Woogui is just a TOP Mozambican brand.
My little sister from another mother! Afro Ricky is a brand created by Ricacia Agira from Inhambane. The brand specialises in organic clothing and she is doing an amazing job – I am so proud of her beautiful and unique designs. Ricky surprises me every time with her creative evolution. BRAVO menina!
Too many hours of laughs, love, joy, fights and art in the little house where we lived in Maputo paid off for Lizette. At that time, she was the non-artist just watching all of us who were trying to launch our creative careers. Today, she is one of the best African contemporary artists. Her pieces are at the MOMA, in big galleries in New York, London, Berlin, Tokyo, Dubai – you name it. We are just too proud of you, sister.
Clay sculptures from the Maconde culture. An inspiration for all of us, Reinata is now celebrated and recognized for her unique and spectacular pieces. Her work brings me back to my traditions, reminds me where I come from, who my ancestors are and the value of my culture. Everyone should have a piece by Reinata.
This amazing Kenyan basketry brand works with around 700 women from rural communities, producing these amazing pieces that I love. The baskets are made from sisal and recycled plastic from Kenyan streets. A beautiful project and concept with amazing designs. It’s worth checking out these products because they are TOP!
Ahhh … this brand from South Africa makes me crazy every time I see a new piece from them! They are simply amazing, exquisite African designs. I love love love all of it: the colors, the cuts, the designs – no wonder they are the H&M African designers. Well done in making Africa proud!
CHNA DE SA
An amazing artist from Inhambane, well known in our city and the world. Chana’s work is loved by many. Most recently, he is coloring our streets with amazing painted murals, teaching art to children and using recycling materials to produce his work. Medusa is one of my favorite pieces of his artwork.
South African-born with Mozambican parents, living in SA. I have the opportunity to chat with this amazing chef and follow his work; he is one of my favorite African chefs. His food is amazing, very inspirational, very African and very tasty. If you can find his recipe book, you will always have the taste of Africa at your disposal!
The new contemporary recycling and upcycling concept brand. Recycled glass bottles, tyres, plastics and recovered wood, Biothonga blends these materials to create an ever-growing range of home and kitchen products, like jars, candle holders, ashtrays, cups, boards etc. Their amazing concept has even led to partnerships with companies like @pernodrichard, to look at new ways to upcycle waste glass from their product lines.
Many of us today see Africa with different eyes, with opportunities to thrive. Here are examples of my favorite African brands, mainly from Mozambique, who are doing very well and have amazing products now being sold around the world. Enjoy!
Our amazing stockists/partner Loja CELO is an amazing gallery in Maputo that I love very much. CELO has been very supportive to many Mozambican brands, helping us showcase our products in the best ways.
CELO makes sure to invite everyone to this special marketplace, from locals, expats and diplomats. We must say thank you very much to Marcelo and the CELO team: you are TOP! You have been amazing, charismatic, helpful to us all!
The SUPERMERCADO concept was launched to help brand visibility, sell more products and meet new clients. For the bi-annual SUPERMERCADO, the Loja CELO team creates a perfect environment with DJs, food and drinks from NOM, the top restaurant in Maputo.
If you are in Maputo and don’t yet know this lovely gallery, please visit them to enjoy products from Mozambique’s top designers. Thank you, Marcelo, for all your support!