Monthly Archives: December 2019

ʼThe Café Continental as its name implies is a coffee establishment in the Santos Gil building on Av. de Republica (25 de Setembro). Besides the Scala which was on the opposite side and also housed a cinema, it was the other iconic and emblematic watering hole for the residents of the city and the subject of many narratives.

It first opened its doors sometime in the 1950s and remained largely unchanged for the next forty years.

the Continental Cafe, was vast and vaguely presented in a sort of late Deco, already somewhat Americanized. This was where men were focused on the discussion of politics – yes, in Lourenço Marques political discussion was also trivial – the latest news from local and metropolitan football and the intrigued news of a relatively small society, although their territorial conquest would suggest the opposite. As if it were reflex action, passersby who knew the patrons would instinctively nod their heads, salute or doff their hats

In Dave Grinnel’s account, ‘Christmas in Lourenço Marques’ he explains how the members of the Desportivo Club (a local football team) favoured the Cotinental and often stared menacingly at the members of a rival team who congregated at the Scala just across the road.

Above a Fiat 500, 600 and Volkswagen Beetle suggest the photo to be from the mid 1960s. In the center is a raised 4-way type traffic light with the striped paint-scheme. These may have been a recent innovation as only a few years earlier the traffic was controlled by an officer standing atop the circular base.

It was the Café Continental that was the center of the Laurentinas [local and popular brand of beer] and the tiger prawns that accompanied each round, the steaming coffee was for the climax and signaled the end of the social encounter. The Cokes served to mitigate the annoyance of the impatient boys at the unintelligible conversations of the adults who unfortunately dragged them there, beginning after some time to swing their legs in silent protest. Sometimes a clac! relatively audible turned a few heads toward the noise and the suddenly reddish face of the cheeky brat. These were times when this was done in public and without major objection.

A photo taken on what appears to be a very busy day

A photo taken in the evening featuring several neon signs and the brighlty illuminated Café Continental

After several years of operations, the lean years, including a few where the Café Continental seemed to be gone for good, it finally re-opened in 2019. Its tie-up with Minerva Central (another historic brand of LM), means there is more space reserved for books than there are for tables and coffee.

Beta is a brand of Portuguese origin of a type louvered window which was used extensively for buildings in colonial Mozambique and Angola. It is also known as jalousie in other markets and appears to have been patented in the USA at the turn of the 20th century.

The basic operation of the Beta window allows for a series of louvered glass panels to be opened and shut via a lever. In Mozambique they have normally been installed on the intermediate landings of stairwells, public washrooms and education facilities whose facades are designed to allow the maximum possible light into compartments such as classrooms.

In residential applications, they have been found to be mounted above door frame where there is a separation of living spaces such as between kitchens, hallways, bedrooms and sitting areas. Their installation at these positions means there is no invasion of privacy under normal use.

When the louvered panels are in the open position, they allow air to pass between various compartments, including warm air that has risen to escape the compartments. This circulation allows for natural reconditioning of the air with warm, stale air moving out and being replaced by cool air.

Gradually these types of windows have lost their place in Mozambique. It is uncertain whether this is due to unavailability of the system, poor awareness of its existence or its propensity to be easily damaged.

In Mozambique, Beta windows can be found on buildings constructed after the 1950s, generally presenting some degradation of function or damage. Due to the tropical climate and the proximity to the salty air from the sea, many installations are not in operable condition.

The metal components were often coated with materials that succumbed to the harsh whether conditions causing them to degrade visually, mechanically or simply to break-off leaving no possibility for manipulation of the louvers. A second criticism has been its inability to provide a tight seal when in the closed position. Small gaps allowed insects and water to enter.

One of the main selling points was the extensibility. Glass louvers could be bought in standard sizes and cut for a perfect fit. Several units in standard sizes could then be installed next to each other.