Lost Dreams; Grande Hotel Beira, Mozambique

In one of the grandest hotels in the world, born of and to luxury, today you enter ‘at own risk’. More than 2500 people live there without water or electricity. They have taken possession of the building and manipulated not only the stones but also the dreams. A journey through present and past of a city in a city; a story about colonial megalomania, revolutionary vanity and feeling at home.

grande hotel beira mozambique afbeelding

The Grande Hotel Beira was a luxurious hotel in Beira, Mozambique built by entrepreneur Arthur Brandão. It was open from 1954 to 1964, after which the holiday resort was used as military base and prison in the Mozambican Civil War. It has since fallen into disuse, and is currently home to numerous squatters, who have stripped the building of construction materials to provide a limited source of income.

Its failure wasn’t completely because of the revolution or government rule but the construction and maintenance costs were too high and they didn’t receive enough guests because of more affordable and better located competition.

In 1964, after ten years of operation, the Grande Hotel was closed by the Companhia de Moçambique. The construction costs were three times more than the original budget, and the hotel never made any profit. The anticipated number of wealthy guests never came and the workforce was too large for the amount of guests actually received. Every elevator, for example, had its own operator present. The hotel needed a lot of maintenance to keep it in its luxurious condition.

Listen to Kumbe Siyengetile [Mozambique] – Francis Baloyi, Sangaan Band

See also this Belgian documentary by  Lotte Stoops filmed in Beira, Mozambique in 2010. Winner of the Biarritz International Festival of Audiovisual Programming 2012

grand-hotel-mozambique.2

In several documents it was claimed that the reason for closure was the refusal of the regime to grant the hotel a casino permit. Any realistic estimation would have predicted the failure of the hotel. The white residents of Southern Africa couldn’t afford this level of luxury and Beira was not known, internationally, as a prime holiday destination for wealthy people. Destinations like the Bazaruto archipelago at Vilanculos, the Mediterranean city life style of the Mozambican capital Lourenço Marques, the South African Krüger national park and the Victoria Falls in Rhodesia where more famous across the world.

A cheaper alternative to the Grande Hotel was the Ambassador Hotel. This hotel opened just after the inauguration of the Grande Hotel and was preferred by business people because it was situated in the Baixa (downtown) area, where most of the business offices were located. Remarkably, Arthur Brandão was also the owner of this hotel.

Nakhane Touré -raw as a fresh wound

 

Nakhane zanger foto  South African writer, actor and writer Nakhane Touré (31) will not be silenced. Resistance defies with a raised head, with a somewhat mocking look in  his beautiful androgynous face. His vulnerability is his strength, Nakhane is a queer artist on a mission.

Last weekend he was a defining artist at the Rotterdam music festival ‘Motel Mozaïque’ where he performed to promote his new album You Will Not Die’. An emotionally charged, loneliness-drenched collection of his own written songs in the soul and electro styles, in which he sings about his homosexuality and how he crawled under the yoke of a homophobic South African church community.

But not only as a musician does Nakhane attract attention, also as an actor. With his leading role in the controversial film of the South African director John Trengrove ‘The Wound’ (2017), he explained the taboo of being a young gay man in the Xhosa community. Xhosa is one of the largest ethnic populations within the Rainbow Nation.

The film caused a lot of commotion in South Africa when it appeared, although there was an Oscar nomination for best foreign film. After intense protests, the film was banned from the South African cinemas early this year. Nakhane felt broken as he mentioned on  Twitter; ‘raw as a fresh wound’.

Broken but not defeated, his music frees his soul he says. On his album ‘You Will Not Die’ Nakhane  raises all the heavy subjects and  taboos in his Xhosa community while coming out as a gay man; self-acceptance, finding an identity, anonymous sex, confusion, leaving his church and religion and finding his own spirituality.

nakhane you will not die album cover

source: NRC Handelsblad 19th April 2018- Amanda Kuyper