A recent visit to Padre Humberto, the Dutch priest at São Joaquim de Munhuana, turned up a trove of photos of the parish’s past. I’ve written before about Munhuana and the Bairro indígena, a colonial-era housing complex built in the city’s flood zone and designated for “un-assimilated” Africans, and will write more. But for now I thought I’d mark the occasion of the rainy season, a time when residents of Munhuana scoop water out of their courtyards like they were bailing out lifeboats, with images of the neighborhood’s soggy history. This first image dates from either the floods of 1965, 1966, or 1969, and it’s like a mash-up of tendencies in nineteenth-century American art—with a cameo by Gen. Douglas MacArthur. I love it.
More from the 1960s:
In the late 1970s, Frelimo evacuated the residents of Munhuana to apartment buildings closer to downtown that had been recently abandoned by Portuguese families fleeing newly independent Mozambique. Munhuana was abandoned for about a decade, until drainage troughs were built along Avenida de Angola. (The school, the church, and the police post somehow stayed in operation.) These images date from the ghost town years in the 1980s:
Residents returned to the former Bairro indígena in 1987. Regular flooding is a memory, but every year, beginning in December or January, the neighborhood turns to muck. Here’s Munhuana in 1991, a few years into its era of relative normalcy: