Reviving a Maritime Past: Architectural and ecological heritage of Chinde, Mozambique – Roberto Mussibora
Panoramic view of Chinde Zambeze River Landim Beach Chinde
Old Colonial Square and Administration Building
Under national precepts (Mozambique), the inventory appears to be a primary technical procedure for the conservation of cultural heritage. Therefore, the inventorying process aims to know, document and evaluate the state of conservation, as well as define the cultural significance of real estate for local communities.
Former Port Authority Building “Capitania do Porto’’ (office)
The lack of inventory generally translates into the lack of conservation, protection and even the inexistence / lack of knowledge of heritage assets which, despite having high heritage values evidenced by their history or, even their architectural and cultural significance, cease to exist because there is nothing listed, and often interpretations of such properties end up being arbitrary and changeable.
Chinde District Government Building
Old Chinde Library
Therefore, our project “RMP: AEHChinde-Mz” aims primarily to document the architectural and ecological cultural heritage in the village of Chinde in southern Zambezia province in Mozambique. The study is based on documentation by photography, maps, structured and semi-structured interviews with the local population in order to understand the challenges and threats of this type of heritage and ways of mitigation.
Chinde is located in a region with an abundant hydrological network, resulting from the Zambezi delta. The location of Chinde appeared to be an imperative for the emergence of this place as an urban center of port and corporate curries of the time, where it attracted several exogenous peoples, including the Arabs, British and Portuguese.
British tombstone dated 1892 and 1984 respectively. Time of the British Concession.
Despite the historical importance of Chinde, the cultural maritime heritage of this village is mostly in an advanced state of degradation and ruins, without even an inventory of local infrastructure, whether of interest or not. Most of the properties are in a state of abandonment, and without any use, appearing to be a city of ruins.
Abandoned property in Chinde
Famous boat-shaped building from the Senna Sugar States Lda era “mezingo” in abandoned status, Chinde.
The importance and potentiality of Chinde is not only illustrated by its architectural countenance, but also by the dense mangrove forests all along the river course of the Chinde River (one of the branches of the Zambezi River) to the village of Chinde, where along the Upon our arrival at the Chinde River crossing, we were presented with lush landscapes and an exquisite display of hippos and birds of various species.
Chinde Anchorage, Chinde River Mouth.
Hippos along the Zambezi River
Flamingos along the Chinde River, at the confluence between the salty and sweet waters.
Chinde Mangrove Forest (Chinde River Bank)
Chinde Mangrove Forest (Chinde River Bank)
Arriving at the village, we witness the excellent symbioses between the maritime and river landscape that are aided by its location (mouth of the Chinde River) and lush architectural goods explicitly displayed and the long and well-defined streets, incorporating several buildings of great architectural, historical and expressiveness importance.
Panoramic view of the buildings of the former company, Senna Sugar States Lda located at Av. dos Heróis Moçambicanos
Apart from the state of conservation and lack of functionality of many properties, it should be noted that one of the biggest problems that has threatened not only the properties, but the village in general, is the coastal erosion that is at alarming levels, and which according to the population has destroyed the embryo of the Chinde village; ”1st Chinde and 2nd Chinde”, which currently from the mouth of the Chinde River mouth, which was much smaller in size.
Main street and Aspect of the old embryo village (currently nonexistent part of the Chinde River). Source www.act.iict.ptd, Photo Santos Rufino
Old Chinde City Hall. Source www.act.iict.ptd, Photo Santos Rufino
All interviewees (natives) were unanimous in stating that coastal erosion originated initially from mangrove cutting along the banks of the Zambezi River, on the side of Chinde village, after the rural exodus from Luabo to Chinde in the Civil War period, where Luabo will suffer armed attacks. Thus, without conditions, refugee populations in Chinde saw the mangrove as a support, where they used the mangrove for logging, building their new homes for sale, to make firewood and charcoal.
RMP AEHChinde-Mz (Roberto Mussibora and Joaquim Campira), in an interview with Mrs. Ema (native and resident of Chinde)
It is important to reiterate that according to native respondents, mangrove slaughter before independence was a serious crime, and mangrove use as firewood was only done by picking up dry branches, and never by slaughter.
Mangrove tree sawmill in Bairro Amarelo, Chinde
Large-scale felling (1980s after rural exodus in the Civil War period) and small-scale (at present) contributed significantly to the clearing of mangrove forests on the Chinde River bank on the village side. Another factor that has contributed to the deforestation of mangrove forests and coastal erosion is the reduction of the waters of the Zambezi River (main river) / increase of sea waters, which causes seawater penetration and the consequent salinization of the river Chinde.
As a result, all these factors end up affecting not only the coastal vegetation, but the entire coastal and fluvial ecosystem of Chinde.
In the years ago, there was a willow replanting programs as a way to curb coastal erosion. The measure was positive, but had counterproductive effects due to salinization of the waters.
Coastal erosion on the bank of the Chinde River in the village of Chinde
Situation of vulnerability of local communities due to coastal erosion
Another factor that contributes negatively to coastal erosion is the extraction of “lodo” mud in the mangroves for use in the construction of local houses, causing no support for willow plants.
Extraction of “lodo” clay by women for towing walls of local houses. In Chinde, towing is an activity usually done by women
Houses of local architecture made of pau-à-pique, made of mangrove sticks and mud “lodo”.
Clay extraction site. Mouth of the Chinde River
Another major constraint is the destruction of abandoned properties for the construction of local houses, as in the non-quarry village for extraction of construction rocks.
Property under destruction for the extraction of broken pieces of the walls for vernacular buildings (pau-à-pique houses).
It should be explicitly stated that Chinde communities are dependent on the mangrove forest and its ecosystems.
Access roads to Chinde village
Access roads to Chinde village
In addition to the various constraints raised above, it should also be noted that Chinde has very degraded access roads and lack of direct access (as it is remotely divided by the Zambezi delta). Therefore, the access roads to Chinde do not have sufficient and safe conditions for the circulation of vehicles, as they have no asphalt, are very narrow and have many holes. Therefore access to Chinde village can only be done by boat or barge crossing.
Despite the constraints attached to the conservation of this heritage, local people are filled with glory to describe how important this “forgotten” place was in the past, where on the basis of a significant sample, I can say that the population is unanimous in recognizing the urgency and necessity of preservation of its architectural heritage of Chinde. In addition, we have received numerous congratulations and active collaboration from local communities on the initiative of our project, where like us, we also believe that our inventory is a primary measure of conserving and envisioning the potential maritime cultural heritage in Chinde.
Joaquim Campira (co-researcher of the RMP AEChinde-Mz) identifying the species and current mangrove slaughtering areas.
Joaquim Campira and Manuel Chigarisso (RMP AEChinde-Mz co-investigator) identifying the species and current mangrove slaughtering areas.