Amilton Neves Cuna

6x6 Africa Talent: Amilton Neves Cuna, Mozambique

Through his images and storytelling, Amilton Neves Cuna gives a voice to those who have been marginalized or relegated into the invisible realms of Mozambique’s turbulent and violent independence struggle. He questions the very notion of winners and losers, victors and victims, without fear of bias.” - Nii Obodai Provencal, Ghana, photographer and 6x6 nominator.

Amilton Neves Cuna is a photographer from Maputo, Mozambique, who examines contemporary societal issues using storytelling and documentary techniques. His work addresses perceptions of individuals who find themselves at the margins of society through narratives of empowerment while preserving often forgotten aspects of our modern history. Cuna has been featured at the Franco Moçambicano Cultural Center in Maputo Mozambique, as well as galleries in Ghana, Portugal, Brazil, Ethiopia, Canada, and the United States. 

Madrinhas de Guerra

Madrinhas de Guerra (Wartime Godmothers) tells the story of the Mozambican women who wrote letters to the soldiers during the Mozambican War of Independence, from 1964-1974. Sponsored by the Portuguese government, the Madrinhas de Guerra played a critical role in the psychological support of the colonial armed forces.

While many of these women never met the soldiers to whom they wrote letters, some of them developed deep relationships with them. In exchange for their work, many of the Madrinhas earned influential positions in society and the upper classes. Some of them even received houses from the Portuguese government. However, in 1974, when the Mozambican War of Independence ended, the Madrinhas de Guerra were socially ostracized for having backed the colonial forces.

For the project, the photographer visited the homes of the Madrinhas de Guerra who still live in Maputo today, who embody an opulent past and the subsequent marginalization they suffered.
Maria stands in her makeshift home where her house once stood, Maputo, Mozambique, January 2018. Maria married the pen pal she met as a Madrinha, but he was expelled from Mozambique along with his compatriots in 1974. The home given to her by the Portuguese government was destroyed in the 2000 flood that left almost half a million Mozambicans homeless.
Rita sits in her now dilapidated home gifted to her by the Portuguese government for her loyalty in Maputo, Mozambique, in November 2017. Like many other Madrinhas, she married her pen pal soldier, a Mozambican who fought on behalf of the Portuguese during the War of Independence. Once a luxurious home, they now use straw mats laid on the floor for guests and family to sit on during gatherings at home.
Ana was a Madrinha de Guerra who ended up marrying a Portuguese soldier during the war. While he was expelled to Portugal in 1975, her two children were able to remain with her in Mozambique. As adults, her children immigrated to Portugal but still return to visit her on holidays and support her financially. Maputo, Mozambique, December 2017.
Judite and her pen pal planned to get married once the war had ended. He purchased a wedding dress for her but died during the war. Judite is ostracized from society for her support of the colonial government. She never got married. Maputo, Mozambique, November 2016.

Salinas

Salinas (Salt Flats) documents the work at the Salt Sanitization Plant in Matola, Mozambique, with more than 80 permanent workers and an additional 120 seasonal workers tending to the salt flats daily.

When Mozambique became an independent country in 1975, the Mozambican government issued the 24/20 order, which granted Portuguese citizens 24 hours to leave the country with a maximum of 20 kg of possessions. All remaining assets, such as houses, businesses, and industry, became the property of the state and were either reused or redistributed among the Mozambican citizens. In August 1977, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce gained control of the Salt Sanitization Plan in Matola. It was one of the few places for illiterate Mozambican citizens to find work and earn an income for their family, and still is for many.

At daybreak, workers in the salt flats report to a central station to check-in, collect materials, and begin their assigned tasks. The smooth, shallow flats provide a reflective surface. Matola, Mozambique, June 2017.

Women stand in a queue to collect and carry bags to a second location for processing. Matola, Mozambique, June 2017.

Women haul bags of unrefined salt for processing. At the salt flats, women execute most of the transportation work. Matola, Mozambique, June 2017.

Male workers spend days shoveling unrefined salt swept off the surface into heaps to be bagged and transported. June 2017.

Discover work by the 6x6 Africa talents, and find out about 6x6’s nomination and selection process.