Africa

In pictures: The squatters of Mozambique's Grande Hotel

People in the staircase of The Grande Hotel in Mozambique's coastal city of Beira Image copyright Fellipe Abreu

The Grande Hotel in Mozambique's coastal city of Beira is home to 3,500 squatters. Photojournalist Fellipe Abreu visited the building once dubbed the "Pride of Africa":

Image copyright Fellipe Abreu
Image caption When it opened in 1955, it was one of Africa's most luxurious hotels. The curvilinear structure had three floors…
Image copyright Fellipe Abreu
Image caption ... an Olympic pool - now used to do washing - large staircases, halls, shops, restaurants, a post office, cinema, bars and 122 rooms.
Image copyright Fellipe Abreu
Image caption It was also supposed to host a casino, but the owners were never able to get permission from the Portuguese colonial authorities.
Image copyright Fellipe Abreu
Image caption This was the start of its troubles as although Beira is a popular Indian Ocean resort, the hotel was never able to attract many visitors.
Image copyright Fellipe Abreu
Image caption It closed to guests in 1963 and was used only for big events and parties.
Image copyright Fellipe Abreu
Image caption During the civil war which began the late 1970s, it also served as an army base and was a prison for political prisoners.
Image copyright Fellipe Abreu
Image caption After the hotel was completely abandoned during the next decade, it was looted and people moved into the building, especially those fleeing the conflict.
Image copyright Fellipe Abreu
Image caption For the first time, the hotel reached its maximum capacity. It is way beyond that now as families live in every section of the dark, humid hotel, including the stairs.
Image copyright Fellipe Abreu
Image caption The only part of the hotel that has electricity is a side section where residents have set up a small "movie theatre" - often filled with children and adults watching a small TV.
Image copyright Fellipe Abreu
Image caption Some of families have been living in the hotel for three generations. Twenty-four years after the end of the civil war, more than half of Mozambique's population continues to live below the poverty line.
Image copyright Fellipe Abreu
Image caption Because there is no maintenance, there are now problems with the hotel's infrastructure with plants and trees trying to reclaim the building.
Image copyright Fellipe Abreu
Image caption Hygiene is also a problem, years of rubbish have accumulated and the bar is used as a urinal nowadays.
Image copyright Fellipe Abreu
Image caption This resident is tasked with making repairs to the hotel - and is making bricks to fix an area destroyed by fire.
Image copyright Fellipe Abreu
Image caption The people who live in the Grande Hotel do not pay any rent, but the community has set up its own rules and does not allow new residents as they say the building is full.
Image copyright Fellipe Abreu
Image caption Local leaders, like Carlos Nori (pictured), are voted in by the residents and there is a council that meets every month to talk about any problems or possible violations.
Image copyright Fellipe Abreu
Image caption And they also organise some sport. "Almost every day, the men meet each other in the external area to play soccer," says Mr Nori.

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