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Maputo (Mozambique)

Formerly Lourenço Marques

Last modified: 2016-05-08 by bruce berry
Keywords: maputo | lourenco marques | matola |
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image by Jens Pattke, 24 Apr 2016 See also:


Maputo is the capital and largest city of Mozambique.  It is located in the south of the country on the northern bank of Espírito Santo Estuary of Delagoa Bay, an inlet of the Indian Ocean.  The major economic activities are associated with the harbour, which is the nearest for South Africa's economic heartland in Gauteng.   A city since 1887, it superseded the Island of Mozambique as the capital in 1898.  The city was originally called Lourenço Marques, named after the Portuguese navigator who, together with António Caldeira, was sent in 1544 by the Governor of Mozambique on a voyage of exploration.  They explored the courses of the rivers emptying their waters into Delagoa Bay, notably the Espírito Santo. The various forts and trading stations which the Portuguese established, abandoned and reoccupied on the north bank of the river were all called Lourenço Marques. The existing town dates from about 1850, the previous settlement having been entirely destroyed by the natives. The town developed around a Portuguese fortress completed in 1787.

After the independence of Mozambique, the city was renamed Maputo in February 1976.
Bruce Berry, June 2008

Maputo flag

The flag of Maputo has the municipal emblem in the centre of a light green field, fimbriated in yellow, which is surrounded by a dark green border.

[Maputo emblem] image by António "Kitabulu" Teixeira, 18 Oct 2002

António Martins-Tuválkin, 21 Oct 2002

The accuracy of the Coat of Arms needs to be verified. On Ralf Hartemink's site the top quarter is gold/yellow, not red. The sails are red, not white. Moreover the motto on the banderol below the Coat of Arms is virtually illegible, almost Arabic.

There seem to be two different mottos on the Coat of Arms, for the first image something like Cidade de Lourenço Marques, for the second image a similar motto in quite different lettering, whereas on Ralf's site it reads: DESCOBERTA E SOBERANIA PORTUGUESA.
Jarig Bakker, 21 Oct 2002

I'm not the author of these images. They were made by the Spanish vexillologist and editor of Gaceta de Banderas, Jorge Hurtado, who is generally well informed and accurate. These images came from a series of  Portuguese colonial flags researched by the Catalan vexillologist Adolfo Durán Rodríguez [drn95] and published in Banderas (No. 54, 1995) [ban].
Jaume Ollé, 22 Oct 2002

I indeed remember the motto "DESCOBERTA E SOBERANIA PORTUGUESA" ("Portuguese Discovery and Ownership") applied to Lourenço Marques, though it may later have been changed to the more standard "Cidade de Lourenço Marques".

A note on Portuguese colonial sub-national flags, or rather the arms thereon, is that they come in two types: Older ones, usually created unofficially by local elites and brought into use before the normalization of Portuguese sub-national heraldry in the 1930s (which made them official more often that it did to its metropolitan equivalents); and much later ones, created by official state heralds and attributed in the 1940s and later to some of the colonial cities and towns.

The second type is usually much better designed with real "reborn" heraldry (massive British influence, I'd say), with clear aesthetic and theoretical improvement when compared with the metropolitan arms created a couple of decades before. (One of these traits, is the frequent use of real mottoes on the motto scroll.)  The first type, to which the arms of Lourenço Marques belongs, were usually pieces of tacky amateurish heraldry, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them changed at whim at least on details such as colours.

Perhaps the two images by Jorge Hurtado, after and before the normalization (hinted by the swap of a monocoloured background to a gyronny one) use incorrectly the same arms? Perhaps the arms before1930 are as shown in Ralf's Hartemink site?

As for the motto Portuguese Discovery and Ownership, it stresses Portuguese sovereignty over the city - not against any native claims but against British South Africa. Maputo has an excellent deep water harbour and lies near to the South Africa-Mozambique border.  For that reason the provincial capital was put there (almost asymmetrically situated, compared to, Beira), away from the Mozambique Island in the north.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 28 Oct 2002

Lourenço Marques flag (to 1962)

[first Lourenço Marques flag] image by Jorge Hurtado, 19 Oct 2002

image sent by Vanja Poposki, 19 Aug 2012

The photograph above shows Alfredo Pereira de Lima in "The Municipal Palace of Lourenço Marques" with the Standard of the city.  The banner came from Lisbon in 1888.  This ceremonial flag is in natural silk (green), with dimensions of 1.65 × 1.35 and with gold and silver embroidery.  The golden metal staff of 2.25 meters is complete with a finial.

The standard complies with Article 92 of Decree Law 41169 of 29 June 1957, which was reworded from the original granted by the King D Luis I, and was made by House Buttler in Lisbon.
Vanja Poposki, 19 Aug 2012

Lourenço Marques flag (1962-1975)

[second Lourenço Marques flag] image by Jorge Hurtado, 19 Oct 2002

The second flag of Lourenço Marques was used between 1962 and independence in 1975, and in the classic Portuguese gyronny design with the city's coat of arms (see image below) in the centre.

[Lourenço Marques CoA] image from Ralf Hartemink's site.

Jaume Ollé, 19 Oct 2002