Culture of Mozambique
What can you expect from the culture of Mozambique? What is appropriate and what is unusual? Discover handy tips from our destination experts.
Portuguese is the official language of Mozambique and is spoken mainly in the urban centers. About 40 different languages are spoken throughout the country, including dialects of the various groups of Bantu ethnic people, such as Makua, Shona/Ndau, Sena, Tonga, Yao and Nyungwe.
There are both patrilineal and matrilineal groups in Mozambique, so tracing family history can be through the mother or the father depending on the region. Half the nation still hold traditional animist beliefs, often in addition to conventional religion. One third of Mozambicans are Christian, and a quarter are Muslims.
Music and dance is an important part of Mozambican culture and is integrated into many local customs. Mozambican music is akin to reggae and West Indian calypso, but you can also enjoy other styles like samba, marrabenta and bossa nova.
There are many unique dance styles including:
- Chopi: a hunting dance with the performers adorned in lion skins.
- Mapiko: a dance of Northern Mozambique where the men wear carved wooden masks to frighten away spirits.
- Makua: a hopping dance, conducted on tall stilt
- Nyanga: where Tete performers simultaneously dance whilst singing and playing the panpipes!
Mozambique’s dance styles inspired pop star Beyonce, who flew a troupe of tofu (body-shaking) dancers to the USA to teach her team a few moves! Art has been used as a symbol of resistance against colonial rule in Mozambique.
Wood sculpting is a very popular craft of the Makonde people, usually depicting evil spirits and totem-type family history. Futebol (football) is Mozambique’s favorite sport.
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