Talk like a local!

As a tourist or newly arrived Expat in Mozambique you will soon get in contact with the local languages and although Portuguese is the only official language, local dialects remain very common in everyday life. Mozambique has more than 40 different languages, all of which are part of the Bantu-family. The language spoken in Southern Mozambique and the capital Maputo is called Changana (“Shangana“) or Ronga. It is closely related to Tsonga, which is one of the official languages of South Africa.

While Changana is quite a difficult language to learn, even just speaking a few words with locals is hugely rewarding. They will react equally surprised and cheerful about a foreigner speaking their local language. You will be amazed how the power of language will transform the person in front of you! Nelson Mandela put it this way: If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” Also – from a more practical point of view – a few words of Changana can work wonders when stopped by Maputo traffic police. But that’s another story…

So how can interested folks learn the language? The few books available are all in Portuguese, which many newcomers to Mozambique don’t speak. An internet search shows that there is not one English webpage about Changana – notably a language spoken by over 4 million people! This gave me the idea of creating a website about Changana for the English speaking community. The goal was to provide useful information and extensive study material about the Changana language and culture. Having intensely studied the language for many years, I wanted to make my resources and experience available to a wider community. The webpage is freely accessible at

So start studying today and get talking like a local!

Article credit – Dominik Schweizer