I experienced this myself walking around Chamanculo – an historical but under-serviced neighbourhood near the centre.
Life in Chamanculo is organised around a few large open avenues.
Most of all, Maputo has taught me to think of the cities as places of possibility.
For example, in Maputo I dropped my obsession with electrification.
You may be walking down the Costa do Sol on a Sunday afternoon, watching new hotels being built with Chinese capital, while Maputo’s incipient middle classes eat seafood in front of Maputo Bay.
Suddenly, without you noticing, you find yourself in a neighbourhood of makeshift huts, where flooding is obviously a routine problem.
Maputo also showed me how the built environment intrudes into people’s lives.
The buzzing economic activity of small traders selling mostly food, drinks, charcoal and kitchenware, and businesses such as internet cafes, hairdressers and local shops, is occasionally interrupted by the roaring of a four-wheel-drive car with tinted windows.
These big avenues are connected by small passages in between the houses, which can considerably shorten walking distances.