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The Grande Hotel

opened in 1954 in Beira, the second largest city in Mozambique, then a Portuguese Colony. With 370 rooms, an Olympic size pool and a helicopter pad, it was the largest hotel on the continent and called the 'pride of Africa.' A casino was planned for construction next to the hotel, but the archbishop had forbidden gambling. Without this casino, the hotel failed to make any money, and closed in the early 60s. During the War of Independence, which officially ran from 1964-74, the Grande Hotel became a camp for refugees and the wounded. Its basement was used by the Portuguese to hold political prisoners -then Marxist FRELIMO, the Mozambique Liberation Front, today the ruling majority party- with members of the colonial army living on the 3rd floor. The hotel's swimming pool and conference rooms continued to be used until civil war broke out immediately following independence. FRELIMO was now opposed by RENAMO, a rebel group funded by South Africa and the U.S.A. RENAMO were now prisoners held in the hotel by FRELIMO, who lived on the 3rd floor. After years of unrest, the fighting officially ended in 1992. The last event in the Grande Hotel was the New Years Eve party 1980/81. In the early 1980s the hotel was taken over by squatters, amassing to 3,000 today: a resort as Nation.

from the invitation to "It's not about YOU, it's about THEM", The House, New York

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