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Project Title: Assimilado

Adhesive vinyl, vellum, paper and duct tape. Dimensions: 2810 x 1590 mm; 714 x 585 mm and 1142 x 600 mm


“Assimilado is the term Portuguese colonisers bestowed on a class of indigenous Africans who espoused Portuguese and rejected their own customs and beliefs. This small subset was usually gainfully employed and slightly better treated than most Black Africans. The artwork gets its title from this somewhat violent nomenclature. Researchers Evan S. Lieberman, MIT, and Prerna Singh, Harvard University, describe such terminology as belonging to Institutionalised Ethnicity–the pattern of using ethnic categories, particularly by national states around the world.

The mural focuses on hair as a means to question this phenomenon. Hair is chosen as means of linking Mozambique with the global struggle of Africans on the continent and in the diaspora. The viewer may recall Zulaikha Patel in present-day South Africa, Sandra Laing in Apartheid Suid-Afrika or the music of American artists India.Arie or Solange Knowles. By also manipulating the visual iconography that defines Mozambique’s post-independence, the work seeks to question what Samora Machel’s clarion call, “A Luta Continua!” means in the context of a continent whose proletariat and bourgeoisie are of the same race?”

Work & Process



The work was produced in collaboration with Nikiwe Dlova, whose self-expression highlights the beauty and everyday performance of being a Black Woman in Africa.

About the Artist

Maxwell Mutanda is a pluridisciplinary artist and architect from Harare, Zimbabwe. Within his architectural practice, Mutanda takes a social focus on design. He is a cofounder of the design firm Studio [D] Tale which explores how design and architecture can resolve social and environmental problems. As an artist, Mutanda’s deploy meticulously detailed fine lines collages. Mutanda received his BS in Architecture in 2005 and his MA in Architecture in 2008 from the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London. Studio [D] Tale has exhibited at institutions worldwide and was included in the Venice Architecture Biennale, the Chicago Architecture Biennial, and the London Design Festival, 2015.