Historically, while cities such as Mozambique’s capital Maputo have been analysed as divided into ‘formal ‘and ‘informal’ spaces, contemporary approaches tend to emphasise the heterogeneity and plasticity of African urbanities. Drawing upon original ethnographic material gathered from fieldwork in 2012/2013, we reframe the analysis of such cities through recognition of novel forms of urban imaginaries, emergent narratively, that may take the shape of dichotomies or trichotomies reconfiguring hegemonic notions such as formal–informal, centre–periphery or urban–suburban. In conclusion, it is suggested that this citywide ongoing process highlights the importance of appreciating dynamic discursive engagements with urban space, which not only are at odds with hegemonic definitions of the city but also, crucially, impinge on people’s own urban strategies – in Maputo as well as elsewhere.