Maputo Now?

Olhos Curiosos

Instituto Camões, Maputo
December 7 - 13 2005
Photographs.
João dos Santos Rufino, 1929
Bill Osborne, 2005
Click each picture for a larger view
Use next/prev to view comparison.
































Can a city evolve? Do pressures of natural selection apply to houses, shops, apartments, palaces, hotels? Is there a natural order? How can a city show "fitness for survival"?

The evidence of our senses says no: what on earth is "fit" about multi-storey cement blocks?

E102 - Josina Machel  E101 - 5 Outobro

Why should open space, green trees, parks be any fitter for the survival of the city than tarmaced desolation?

And what do we call it when either of those is taken over, dragged from its original purpose, forced to change? Evolution, or revolution?

E103 - Centro Franco Mocambique   E103 - club hotel 1929

This project is partly an attempt to address those thoughts.

The current state (of any city) reflects the contingencies.

E128 - Ho Ling   E128 Ho Ling Now

If it has truly "evolved" then it reflects the pressures of the "evolving agent"- the buildings, entities that were fit to survive in the environment Maputo found itself, are totally different from those fit for London, Paris, New York - as they are now..

E104a Jardim Botanico   E104 Vasco da Gama

And now of course, the pressures, the evolving agents have changed dramatically. One set of circumstances is removed, a new one is imposed.

E105a GremioRight now, we're simply going through another period of evolution: a "punctuation" in the equilibrium of the city leading to - who knows? .What awaits the city? How can it evolve with the new pressures of success?

E106 Clube Navale These question can never be answered, only observed in a process of change.

So much has gone and yet: a period of mass extinction is part of the natural cycle of evolution.

E107 Caracol Miradouro 1929  E108 Caracol Niradouro 2005

New "species" arise to fill the niches left by the old and sometimes those new species have to utilise the remnants, the skeleton, the structure of the old, as they evolve their place in the world.

How else to explain the panda's thumb? How else to explain the Concrete palm trees? Neon towers? How else to explain a Jazz club in a railway station?

Using old structures, old impositions in new, remarkable ways.

E131 jardims do Hotel Polana  E131a rom the roof of 276 Caracol 2005
E129 Avenida Aguiar  E129a Rua Olaf Palme 2005
E109 Hotel Paris  E110a Chissano Centre

And how would Santos Rufino feel of the Maputo of today?

Undoubtedly saddened by the destruction - but isn't that destruction intimately linked to the "predation" that goes hand in hand with "evolution"

E109 Hotel Paris  E110a Chissano Centre

Isn't it understandable in the context of "survival of the fittest"?

Certainly he would at the very least want the record kept.

E112 Santos Rufino

In the way Cambrian fossils allow us to marvel at the glory of change, of evolution, he sent us fossils of Maputo: not as dead things to ask for pity, but as simple markers, milestones on the path of history, evidence to help us track the evolution.

E113 John Orr 1929  E114 John Orr 2005

As I travelled around, making this new record, uncovering another layer of history, there were undoubtedly moments when it seemed as though Santos Rufino was somehow exerting influence in what is recorded.

Times when it felt as though he would tap on my shoulder to cause me to look round at moments that would otherwise have slipped by.......

E113 John Orr 1929  E114 John Orr 2005

How else to explain the serendipity which led me to the very spots where Santos Rufino stood, back in the Cambrian explosion of Maputo.

E115  E116  E117  E118

And from that I know I can speak for Santos Rufino when I say that both he and I see the hope, the opportunity, the chance to outrun the predatory pressures, to direct our own fitness during our own struggle for survival.

E120 Praia  E110a Chissano Centre
E120b Polana  Polana

If Sr. Santos-Rufino had been asked for his vision of the city in 70 years time, would he have conceived of Maputo today?

E121  E122

Another unanswerable question

E123  E124
E125  E125a
E126  E125a

We can say one thing only:
it'll be like nothing you can imagine.
Get on board!

E115  E133a

New pictures 2005 © Bill Osborne
all rights reserved

Billos

Muitos Agradecimentos para Sr João do Santos Rufino, 1929.

and of course to Mr Charles Darwin

and also Mr Stephen Jay Gould.

Evolution Index