Painting Primeiras & Segundas
A mural depicting the colorful land and seascape of the Primeiras & Segundas Environmental Protected Area (PSEPA) stretches across the principal wall on the south side of Angoche’s major avenue. The design depicts linking ecosystems east to west which extend across three districts in the Zambezia and Nampula provinces in northern Mozambique. From the islands of the Primeiras & Segundas archipelago to mangrove-rich estuaries, to coastal forests further inland, the viewer engages with diverse habitats and their relationships with each other and with more than 350,000 residents whose livelihoods depend on their resources. Viewers also find a map of the PSEPA with clearly marked boundaries.
Click on the image of the mural below for larger view.
The mural is the culmination of a collaborative partnership between the P&S Program and Angoche’s community youth artist group, JUNTOS (Youth United in Work for Opportunities and Success). JUNTOS, formerly JOMA, was founded by area Peace Corps volunteers in 2008 and joined the network of student groups throughout Mozambique that work to prevent HIV through arts and culture mediums. Since its founding, the Angoche chapter has promoted positive behavioral messaging through visual arts, including the painting of murals throughout the city.
When third-year Peace Corps volunteer Hayley Freedman joined the P&S Program as their M&E and Communications Officer in November 2012, she began to work with the established JUNTOS group. On weekends, she and two other volunteers, Anneke Claypool and Maria Fernanda Castro, facilitated group meetings and organized activities including arranging for group participation in the arts fair at the first annual Oceans Fair held on Mozambique Island in June.
In seeing the benefits of linking the group to the Program for both members and P&S, Freedman advocated for a partnership. JUNTOS members learned about the establishment of the PSEPA and Program conservation and resource management initiatives through organized lectures by P&S technical staff. Members volunteered for a beach clean-ups and participated in additional educational programming including a career day with P&S panelists.
With new knowledge and a peaked interest in the work of the P&S Program, members wanted to utilize their artistic talents to encourage the community to take a more active role in conserving and protecting their environment.
Despite the declaration of the PSEPA in November of 2012, many Angoche residents were not aware of the establishment of the Protected Area or that they were living within the reserve boundary a year later. JUNTOS proposed the painting of a mural as a means to educate the community about the PSEPA and promote core tenants of environmental stewardship. The task was to design a mural that would articulate the Program’s co-equal development and conservation approach, illustrating healthy ecosystems and healthy people who benefit from the services they provide.
“We wanted to illustrate the inter-connectivity of the various ecosystems and habitats found within the reserve as well as show how people make use of their resources in sustainable ways” Hayley Freedman
The ten members of the group took this vision and independently put to paper an interpretation. Sketches were brought to a meeting and joined to create a singular, integrated final design. “Each member can see his own creative idea reflected in the final mural,” explained JUNTOS Coordinator Mussa Mohamed.
Once finalized, members began the process of transferring the design to scale on the expansive wall in a multi-step process involving removal of layers of old paint, priming, sketching and painting. Working on weekends to accommodate school schedules, the group put in twelve-hour days, from sunrise to sunset, on Saturdays and Sundays over a period of six weeks. The P&S Program provided the funding for supplies and light meals while Freedman and the other Peace Corps Volunteers actively participated and supervised the group.
Once completed, a dedication ceremony was held to formally present and hand over the mural from the P&S Program and artists to the city of Angoche. Representatives of all major government departments and institutions including the Ministry of Education, Municipal Council, District Services for Economic Activities, District Youth Council, Artisnal Fishermen Association of Angoche, among others, were in attendance.
P&S Natural Resource Management (NRM) Marine and Protection Officer, Cremildo Armando, walked guests through an overview explanation of the mural, beginning with the reserve map. He explained the vision behind the images and provided technical explanations of the various habitats portrayed and important ecological roles played for the overall health of the PSEPA and its inhabitants.
JUNTOS members spoke about the process and how they came up with the final design, commenting on what they learned and what they hoped their work will contribute to Angoche.
Artist and JUNTOS member Nuro Alberto Abdala Juma
The Director of District Services for Economic Activities, Miguel Massunda applauded the initiative and group’s talent commenting, “There is no amount of money in the world that could pay for this mural and [its] important cross-cutting messages which educate us about the environment in a creative form of artistic expression.”
Members of JUNTOS are proud to see that they are taken seriously as professional artists. In admiration of the group’s work, a number of individuals have expressed interest in hiring their talent while a contract is already being drawn up with one admirer. “This was a completely unforeseen benefit, commented founding member Ahamada Salimo. “We are hopeful that our efforts will open doors to other possibilities; opportunities for us to express our art and showcase our talent.”
In times when many of Angoche’s youth face challenges in pursuing higher education and have few employment prospects, the future of these young artists is beginning to take shape.
As the Director of the Conselho Distrital de Juventude (District Youth Council) remarked during the ceremony, “I did not know that we had so many Malangatanas among us. Keep up the good work and who knows where your talents may lead.”