Review | Mozambique from one time into another

Dutch photographer Ben Krewinkel continues the journey that took Frits Eisenloeffel to Mozambique after its victory and independence of 1975.

Then, Eissenloeffel captured the somewhat hasty departure of Portuguese colonialist settlers, the tales of an outgoing white military force and the arriving freedom fighters led by Samora Machel. His photographs, published in Dutch media at the time, reflected postcolonial excitement, reconstruction and the beginning of a new era.

Now, Krewinkel explores a range of themes defining modern day Mozambique: poverty, migration, Chinese influence, youth, political ideologies, -and new violent conflict. But this is not run-of-the-mill conflict photography: by focusing his lens on the countries’ people the photographer infuses this collection with deep humanism.

In the book Looking for M., Krewinkel juxtaposes some of Eisenloeffel's work next to his own shots. The result pushes the viewer from one time into another and back again, leading one to wonder how the past still shows in the present. What was achieved, what went wrong? These are talking images with no words wasted.

The letter M. is the glue that sticks the images together. It stands for Memories, Mozambique, and the countries’ capital Maputo; for Machel, the liberator and Mondlane, the independence movement’s founding father, who mobilised international solidarity beyond the Cold War divisions and was assassinated in 1969. Tragically, in todays' Mozambique his name is only remembered by few, Krewinkel notes.

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Children playing with spinners. Beira ©Ben Krewinkel
Frelimo fighter and civilians. Inhaminga, 1974. During an informal ceasefire Frelimo cadres visit Inhaminga to talk to Portuguese soldiers and citizens. ©Frits Eisenloeffel
Refugees in harbour. Lourenço Marques 1974. ©Frits Eisenloeffel
Roadworks / Obras de construção de estrada. Between Namialo and Nacaroa. In Mozambique many government buildings, public facilities and roads have been built by Chinese contractors. ©Ben Krewinkel
Dancing on the eve of Independence. Lourenço Marques, 1975. Grupos dinamizadores bring Frelimo's message to the people. ©Frits Eisenloeffel
R. Kelly. Pemba. ©Ben Krewinkel
Samora Machel on the eve of Independence. Unknown, 1975. © Frits Eisenloeffel
Pool, hotel Avenida. Maputo Arlingo migrated to South Africa to work as a welder. Better opportunities in his home country, Mozambique, lured him back to work here. He is now employed by a swimming pool and maintenance company. ©Ben Krewinkel
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