There is a lot of street life in Maputo and the ubiquitous shady trees provide perfect conditions for trade, socialising, playing draughts with metal or plastic beer tops, and generally hanging out.
To ensure a modicum of comfort, chairs are brought along and parked at particular spots. They are mightily overused and get worn out, mainly because most chairs are plastic, so it is usual to pile up two or more and tie them together to make up for a missing leg, a broken arm rest, a cracked seat. Even nails are used to repair the plastic!
These repaired chairs then become personalised and are jealously guarded, often attached by padlocks or chains to metal shop shutters or concrete posts. Some chairs are never vacant, and a morning peanut and cashew vendor will cede the chair to an afternoon fried snack seller, who will pass it in turn to a night guard.
There are other unusual chairs around too – including those made out of used bombs and other rusty ordnance picked up in the aftermath of war. Other chairs are just cool, like this one that’s in the French-Mozambique Cultural Centre, in which I sometimes park myself to watch TV news.
Our guard Constancia, who we thought never slept as he appeared to be 24/7 outside the building with his battered chair, turns out to have a cousin he shares the task with….Now I have seen them together I can identify the difference: Constancia has a front tooth missing and cousin Joaquim does not. We feel a bit guilty when we come home at the small hours, often from a live music venue, as one or other of them has by then brought their chair (below) into the hall and is wrapped up in a blanket and somehow comfortably draped over it for an extended night guard’s cat nap.