MAPUTO, Mozambique – It is a curious vestige of Portugal's former rule over Mozambique, a statue of a dictator from the colonial era that faces a wall in downtown Maputo in what some observers joke is a kind of eternal punishment.
Mozambique got rid of many statues, street names and other symbols of colonial rule after independence in 1975, so the bronze statue of longtime Portuguese dictator Antonio Salazar is a quirky survivor of an earlier era. It is essentially out of sight from the public, situated in a courtyard of the national library where employees park their cars.
The statue, which depicts Salazar in academic robes, has been a target of jokes over the years because it gazes close-up at a wall. People who walk past mostly get a view of its back.
Salazar was put in the "dunce's corner," a blogger wrote several years ago.
Salazar, who ran Portugal as a dictatorship for several decades from the 1930s, died in 1970. A 1974 military coup toppled the dictatorship, opening the way for Portugal to pull out of unpopular conflicts in its African colonies and cede control there.
A similar stone statue of Salazar stood outside a large high school during colonial times, but anti-colonial activists blew it up at the beginning of the war for independence in the 1960s, said Philipp Schauer, Germany's ambassador in Mozambique. Schauer, who has written a guide book on Maputo that he plans to publish soon, said a bronze statue of Salazar, built as a replacement, was moved to the library after independence.
The Mozambican government has said it wants to move the statue to an old fort in Maputo where other colonial relics are stored.
Jane Flood, who leads walking tours in Mozambique's capital, said the Salazar statue is on her "'hidden Maputo' list" of things to see.