Chimoio [Vila Pery, Mandigos]

Lat: -19.109622005502000, Long: 33.474774997624000

Chimoio [Vila Pery, Mandigos]

Manica, Mozambique

Historical Background and Urbanism

In the remote past the region of Quiteve, where the present day city of Chimoio is located, was a stopping area in the communications between the Indian Ocean and the interior, with the crossing of the Révué River, on the lands of the Medudo and of Mevumbe, or the valley between the Révué River and Búzi. At the time, the confluence of the Révué and Búzi rivers seems to have been roughly to the east; at present the lands of the Boca kinglet, on Búzi, still bear some traces, in the configuration of the soil, of the path that course must have taken. The construction of the railway to the interior, under the administration of the Company of Mozambique, led to the creation of the circumscription of Chimoio (1893), with the order to draw up a plan for a village at the railway terminus. The place initially selected was not the most appropriate, and a place nearby was chosen instead, and then named Vila Barreto. The town was officially created by mandate no. 25, of 30.10.1895, by the Company of Mozambique, which administered the territory until 1942. Its establishment would be concluded at the end of 1895, after proper road construction and the installation of lighting. People left the railway there and continued their journey in African stage-coaches or in Boer carts pulled by oxen. With the railway advance towards Nova Macequece the young village started to lose its importance. The layout of the railway led to the relocation of Vila Barreto to another place, Chiniala (or Chimiala) or Mandigos (or Mandigo), on July 1898. The following year, the houses for the residence and the headquarters of the police and cipaios (indigenous policemen) were already built, besides the post office – in an effort to improve the village by cleaning and lighting the streets, planting eucalyptus and banana trees, cre- ating drainage trenches, and building a well for a water supply for the employees of the company. The Railway Company also built wood and zinc houses where it established the station, homes for employees and a workshop.
On the 15th July 1916, by request of the farmers, the village of Mandigos changed its name to Vila Pery (mandate no. 3.388), in honour of João Pery de Lind, governor of the Company of Mozambique. Important initiatives were taken during the same year. The construction of a masonry building (600 square metres), on the site where the former corral stood, meant for circumscription offices, warehouse, garage, prisons and headquarters of the European police force; two wells were excavated for the supply of water to the town; a street arrangement was made with corresponding arborization (jacarandas imported from South Rhodesia, present day Zimbabwe) and lighting. Private initiative erected five brick buildings.
The following years, from 1920 onwards, the town sanitation process took place, with the landfill of the existing swamps and the partial elevation of two main streets. This project would continue in the following years, with the landfill of plots of land at the heart of the town, the elevation of the adjoining streets, along a stretch of 300 metres, and the embankment of the wide valley that served as a drain for rainwater. The establishment of the Sociedade Algodoeira de Fomento Colonial (SOALPO, Cotton Company) in 1945, led to the formation of the Sociedadade Hidro-Eléctrica do Revué, sarl (Hydroelectric Society), aimed at using the Revué River at Mavúzi first, and then at Chicamba. Chimoio would become important for another reason, now from an industrial perspective, after having been an agricultural region since the early 20th century, focussed on corn cultivation. This importance would be acknowledged by the creation of the municipality of Vila Pery (present day) Chimoio in 1954 (decree no. 39.858, 20.10), the approval of the town charter in 1956 (directive no. 11.582, 04.08), and its elevation to city status in 1969 (directive no. 22.258, 17.09).
Therefore, in a way, Chimoio was refounded, in urban and administrative terms, after the end of the jurisdiction of the Company of Mozambique and the recovery of the territory by the Portuguese government in 1942. Once the municipality was created, the town developed as a planned urban structure, according to models characteristic of international modern urbanism. In effect, the Plano Geral de Urbanização de Vila Pery (Urbanization General Plan for Vila Pery) shows this modern design, although with the colonial adaptation expressed in the indigenous residential unit located northward of the urban core, which was far away from it, separated (segregated) by a green area. In the early 1970s the city was strikingly similar to the plan’s proposal from 20 years earlier – thus being a rare creation, built from scratch, within the design of the eclectic/modern urbanism of the garden city and the Modern Movement, inspired by Le Corbusier’s Athens Charter. An aerial view published in a postcard attests this urban form. Architect Paulo de Melo Sampaio, from Beira, collaborated in the modernization of this urban plan around 1958. More recently, it is known that an urbanization plan was drawn up by Bernardino Ramalhete in 1966, and also an outline plan by the Hidrotécnica Portuguesa, in virtue of a sanitation contract with this company (Hydro-Technical Company), with the consideration of an eventual alternative source of water supply. The elegantly designed urban fabric of Chimoio is marked by several buildings of modern design, from the 1950s-1960s, which can be seen in the photographs of the town main road axis, República Avenue, with the sequence of the former Bank Nacional Ultramarino and the Sport Club. Some of these buildings were designed by architect Paulo de Melo Sampaio, who worked at Beira (the city that greater influence had on Chimoio from an architectural point of view). Other projects by Sampaio, with B. Ramalhete (b. 1921) and Eduardo da Naia Marques (b. 1935) in Chimoio: Municipal Market; Administration Palace; Court of Justice Palace.

Religious Architecture

Equipment and Infrastructures

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