Mafalala Festival showcases historic Maputo neighbourhood

The 8th edition of the Mafalala Festival was held recently in Maputo, Mozambique on Saturday 7 November, with the support of Music Crossroads Academy Mozambique in partnership with local NGO IVERCA Association. This annual initiative has gained recognition in the past few years to become a respected and well-known cultural event in the city.

A scene from the recent Mafalala Festival in Maputo. Photo: Music Crossroads
A scene from the recent Mafalala Festival in Maputo. Photo: Music Crossroads

This year, the Mafalala Festival introduced an innovative programme aimed at preservating and celebrating of the historical and cultural legacy of the neighbourhood. According to Ivan Laranjeira, the director of Mafalala Festival, “The event is a turning point in the way festivals are conceptualised in Mozambique, making the identity, tradition and historic values the most important thing about the event.”

The event began at 9am with a march around Mafalala and several other artistic-cultural activities at the Elementary School Unidade 23, and continued into the night. Besides a jam-packed line-up of music, dance, theatre, poetry and food, this edition of the Mafalala Festival included activities for youngsters (mixing education and fun for kids) as well as mural paintings by several local artists and heritage signposts scattered in different locations around the Mafalala neighbourhood to encourage visitors to explore and learn more about the area.

Mafalala is an historic area of Maputo with a proud legacy and music and dance. According to local knowledge, the name stems from a dance from Macua called ‘M’falala’, which was practiced in colonial times by people coming from the Island of Mozambique (Ilha de Moçambique) to the capital. The neighbourhood was home of influential figures in Mozambique’s history, including Fany Mapfumo and José Craveirinha. It was also at the genesis of the movement that gave rise to Marrabenta, the signature music and dance of Mozambique. Today the area continues to be a hotbed of musical talent.

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