While parts of Mozambique are still the best spots in the world to buy prawns and fresh line-fish, permits are need to transport these and a very limited shelf life (2-3 hours) makes old prawns good for nothing but attracting flies. Cashew nuts are a better bet if you need to nibble to sustain you during a long bus journey or as a present to impress your family and friends with. Although available throughout Mozambique, best value for money is obtainable at the cashew-processing factory at Monapo between Nampula and Ilha de Moçambique.
In the more popular tourist areas such as Ponta do Ouro, Maputo, Macaneta, Bilene, Inhambane, Tofo, Vilanculos and Pemba, local craftsmen make beautiful crafts and batiks and sell these at the roadside or at markets.
Arts and crafts have certainly attracted increasing attention in Mozambique since the return of tourists to this country in 1993. Coming to Mozambique and leaving without a colourful capulana, a Makonde statuette or a Malangatana painting (if you can afford it) would be like visiting Italy and not eating pasta. Although the Makonde group originates from a very limited area straddling the Rovuma River in Cabo Delgado province and Tanzania, Makonde co-operatives have been set up in Maputo, Beira, Nampula, Pemba and Mueda (the Makonde ‘capital’). Prices depend on the fame of the artist, the quality and size of the piece of wood used and the degree of intricacy inherent in the sculpture.
Mozambican painters are producing works that are presently highly coveted by some of the world’s art collectors. Although brightly coloured romanticised depictions of local scenery are enthusiastically produced by amateur artists even in the most unlikely corners of the country, watch out for names like Malangatana, Fatima (at Pemba or on Wimbe Beach), the Fundação Chissano Gallery at Matola near Maputo, Jorge Almeida and Luis Souto at the Co-operativa Alpha in Maputo, Conde and Paulo Soares at the Muséu Nacional de Arte, Maputo.
Beautifully woven baskets, bags, hats and furniture are sold on many of the main national routes, in the parts of towns most frequented by visitors (e.g. next to the Café Continental and close to the Hotel Polana on Av. Julius Nyerere in Maputo) and at the mercados – Inhambane has excellent woven reed products.
Silver jewellery is crafted by traditional smiths on Ilha de Moçambique in the crowded bairros) and Ilha de Ibo (in the fortress and in a house near the main market [mercado]). The genuine article (much is in fact made from nickel and tin) is made from melted-down, old Portuguese coins.