Friday, August 19, 2011


In my earlier I'm-on-a-flight-to-Maputo-but-don't-know-really-know-much-beyond-a-few-demographic-figures post, I included the following gems, extracted from the Mozambique CultureGrams file:
When northern men and women meet each other, they clap hands three times before saying "Moni" (Hello).
Married women usually wear a capulana (wraparound skirt) tied about the waist and a head scarf. In the northern region, a man who cannot provide his wife with at least one capulana each year is not considered deserving of her respect.
I haven't found the former to be true, at least not in Nampula Province. The standard greeting in Ribáuè, Nampula and Ilha is "Salaama" (no clapping involved).

But to say that northern Mozambican women wear capulanas is like saying that Andover is preppy or that Greece has some budget issues; capulanas are everywhere. They are worn as skirts and head scarves, as the CultureGrams report notes, but they also have many other uses, which include pretty much everything for which you could conceive using a large sheet of colorful, wax-printed cloth. Some of the things I have seen being carried in a capulana: fresh maize, dried maize, milled maize, firewood, cashew nuts, chickens, rabbits, sugarcane, and babies.

Diandra, Angela and I decided to purchase capulanas to wear for the MMM community fair today (next post), and so we followed Belchion to the local market to pick out some designs. We found that even a village of Ribáuè's size has two long rows of stalls selling capulanas in every color and design imaginable, ranging from Dia da Independência-themed sheets to floral prints.

Capulana section of the market

I picked up two to make into shirts and one to display as a wall covering either at home or at school. At a cost of about $7 each (120 meticais for the cloth and 60 mets for the tailoring), the shirts were by far the best bargain I've ever had on custom-made clothing. Here we are below, dressed in our finest capulanas and ready for the big fair at Fátima's mill: