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Understanding the role of sound and music in conflict transformation: the Mozambique Case Study


The project ran from March 2017 until February 2018 and has produced a number of outcomes and impacts which are the result of multiple research methodologies. The audio visual materials were created in dialogue with the participants and served as a vehicle for reflection and refining of the final works. The main outcome of the project has the title Por trás de uma performance: O Tufo da Mafalala (Behind a performance: Tufo of Mafalala) and has been presented as a collaborative performance and an installation. A collaboration with Italian anthropologist Rosa Tolla resulted in a text which helps contextualise the research in the tradition of Tufo and the neighbourhood of Mafalala. The research process included field work and training which represent ways of sharing know how and methods.

Por trás de uma performance: O Tufo da Mafalala (Behind a performance: Tufo of Mafalala) is an invitation to enter into the backstage of an expressive practice strongly linked to the past, present and future of Mafalala’s neighbourhood in Maputo, Mozambique. This traditional Mozambican dance of Arabic origins is practiced by a group of Makhuwa women that came to this neighbourhood from the north-eastern province of Nampula. The dance has its unique practices and rituals that usually go unnoticed in the eyes of the audience involving the make-up, the selection of capulanas (traditional dress), the composition of the music and the lyrics. These elements inscribe tufo as a space of sociability and intimacy, generating women’s dreams and reflecting a history of conflict that unfolds in the artistic expression of the dance. 

Por trás de uma performance: O Tufo da Mafala results from the collaboration between the Grupo de Tufo da Mafalala, the Associação IVERCA and researchers in the field of sonic arts and ethnography from Queen’s University Belfast. Through collaborative research that consists of interviews, field recordings, video and photography, this performance presents the personal stories of these women and deconstructs the various rituals that this practice involves. By articulating different forms of knowledge (traditional, scientific, artistic), Por trás de uma performance aims at producing (an)other knowledge of tufo that transcends writing. Thus, it embraces the group’s initial ambition: to expand its own practice in order to break with tradition and move forward to the future.





Two HD video projections of 35 minutos, four audio channels, bricks, straw mats and capulana.

Pedro Rebelo, Matilde Meireles and Iñigo Sánchez Fuarros with the participation of Tudo da Mafalala.


Collaborative performance

Field work and training


The recognition of the complex role of the arts, and more specifically sound and music has led to the development of a research programme which is highly participatory and with direct impact on the local community. Through the collaboration with our partner organization, IVERCA, the project team will train community leaders in sonic arts and ethnographic methods and strategies in order to expand their practice. The team will also co-create a participatory audio-visual piece with a local music and dance group to be presented and performed in collaboration at the Mafalala Festival in November 2017. To ensure that impact is long lasting and that the material delivered during the training is useful 'on the ground', sound recording and editing kits will be made available to the IVERCA group for use in future projects. The project website will serve as a vehicle to showcase how these practices evolve.

During August 2017, the project team travelled to Maputo to initiate fieldwork and develop the first stage of the training process through workshops with the project partners IVERCA. The training sessions introduced sound arts and ethnographic techniques to the participants, exploring their practical usage to capture the neighborhood’s intangible heritage and oral history.

In parallel to the workshops, the team also engaged in specific fieldwork activity related to documenting Mafalala’s sound environment and compiling oral history of some of the neighborhood inhabitants that were relocated to Mafalala due to the armed conflict. The interview process led us to Saquia Rachide, the leader of a local Tufo traditional singing and dance group (and also one of the workshop participants). The interview gave us a deeper understanding of Tufo and its role as social critique and reflection in particular in conflict situations. As a result, we initiated a collaboration with the Tufo group which resulted in the preparation of a participatory audio-visual performance.