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Just a lick of paint? Multinationals mar Maputo

When in Maputo, you can’t help but notice that nearly every single house lining the busy road between the city centre and airport, has received a very generous lick of paint…

And with each paint job comes the big, fat, greedy stamp of some giant global brand.

According to a Maputo resident I spoke to, these money-darting multinationals send scouts to scour the streets, actively approaching the owners of humble road-side homes to offer them a glossy new-look wall. And of course, poor old Mr Motsweka can’t afford to paint his own house so he welcomes the offer with open arms. But unknown to him this is a far from selfless act, Coca Cola just cashed in on a prime-time advertising spot, and they didn’t pay a cent for it (aside from the few Meticaix it cost for some watered down Dulux). Now we’re talking thousands for a billboard advert, this is after all, quite possibly the busiest highway in Mozambique – serious marketing real-estate! And did they paint the swathes of township homes you can’t see from the road? Don’t be silly…..

It’s a real shame that any visitor to Mozambique, arriving at Maputo International Airport, gets greeted by this unrelenting barrage of brands, splashed-out across Avenida Acordos de Lusaka. Not only is it a testament to their shameful advantage-taking, buck-dodging behaviour (in a country that is in desperate need of sincere investment and uplifting community initiatives) but it is a marred first impression.

Don’t be fooled…Maputo is not all neo-colonialism and vulnerable townships – it’s a city that affords one of the most architecturally diverse and intriguing urban landscapes I have ever come across. This is by no means just another shabby African metropolis –  scratch the surface and you’ll find a city of wide, palm-fringed avenidas, sultry late-night jazz café’s, brown-sugar beaches and art deco high-rises.

**Find out more about Maputo and it’s fascinating landscape in my current feature ‘Moreish Maputo’, available to read in Africa Geographic print magazine – on the shelves of Woolworths, Exclusive Books and CNA from next weekend. Or available to buy online via Mysubs.**
 
**If you’re interested in Maputo’s vibrant culinary scene, check out my current article in Safari – ‘Meals in Maputo’ – and find seafood so fresh it virtually jumps out the ocean and onto your plate.**

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I’m Holly - born and raised in the rural British Counties, my mother began life on a sugar farm in Zululand. After reading Anthropology at university in London, working for a political activist filmmaker in India, and doing a short stint under the bright lights of Bollywood – I decided it was time to return to the motherland. To earn a crust in the name of wanderlust, I finished up a post grad in media and hotfooted around South Africa as a freelance travel journalist.

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