14. “The walls have become plants…”

A wall in Ilha has to be dismantled in order to remove the tree which lives in it. This made me think of what Professor Carrilho wrote about the moment in time when the historic city centre was abandoned, before rehabilitation started on the island of Ibo. The free translation is completely unauthorized, with a wish to transmit if only a small echo of the poetry of the original. From the Preface to ‘IBO – A Casa e o Tempo‘ by Júlio Carrilho. (Edições FAPF, Maputo, 2005)

“Thus one learns how the trees assume the ways of the houses. It is not the inverse, what is taking place. Because the houses are so weary from exhaustion that they don’t have the capacity to house anything any more.  They are left to be carried away by time, left to be swept away by the winds and the monsoons, left to be cradled in the opaque comfort of the full moon evenings. And they sleep in a restless sleep as they are extricating themselves from the memories of the bustle which once inhabited their courtyards.

Few people inhabit what is commonly called the historic centre. … Who today deifine its urbanity is the exuberant nature. She is taking possession of all the stones like someone greedily recuperating what she has lost. The stones come to life. They are invaded by a new urgency. First, a new insignificant offspring of a plant emerges in the fold of a corniche. The root slowly invades the openings and the invisible cracks in a wall and seizes it like a constrictor swallowing fast. Thus aroused by greed, the plant allows itself to stay, digesting the form of the wall and adapting itself to it like it had always been its own. The tree now isn’t only a tree. It is a wall. Or better: The walls have become plants. They accept the entrails of another owner and live again. Not because there would be people inhabiting them. They live again because now it is the walls which live in the plants. They  live again because the memory of the old owners, the laughter of the children, the silent protests of the slaves, the movement of the wheels of the rickshaws over the polished coral floor, all this is being digested by the roots filled with the eagerness of the green. Until one could say, with the propriety typical of the architectonic jargon, that the plants of the houses have been transformed into the houses of the plants….”


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About Silje

Architect and PhD Candidate based in Copenhagen, Denmark, but working mainly with heritage conservation and urban development in Ilha de Moçambique 2011-13. You can contact me on macutiblog at gmail dot com
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One Response to 14. “The walls have become plants…”

  1. Zuzanna says:

    Very poetic and thoughtprovoking!

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