The place and the community

Angola, officially República de Angola (Repubilika ya Ngola in Kikongo, Kimbundu and Umbundu languages), is a country in the western coast of Africa, which territory is limited on North and Northeast by the Democratic Republic of Congo, on East by Zambia, on South by Namibia and on West by the Atlantic Ocean. It includes the Cabinda enclave, through which it borders the Republic of Congo on the North. Its surface spreads over 1.246.700 km². Beyond the already mentioned neighbors, Angola is the nearest country to the British colony of St. Helena. Angola was an ancient colony of Portugal, which first made contact with it in the XVth century and ruled it until independence in 1975. The first European to reach Angola was a Portuguese explorer: Diogo Cão. Angola’s capital and largest city is Luanda.

Numbering about 21 million inhabitants, Angola’s population is composed of different ethnics and races, according to the following approximate percents:

Negroes: 95% (Ovimbundu (37%), Ambundu (25%), Bakongo (13%), Ovambo/Nyaneka-Nkhumbi / Herero / Côkwe / Ganguela / Xindonga (20%)); Mulatos (mixed African-Caucasian): 2%; Caucasians: 2%; Others: 1%.

Angola is the second biggest oil producer and diamonds exporter in sub-Saharan Africa. Its economy is strongly on the rise but its corruption index is one of the world’s highest also displaying very low Human Development Indexes.

In 2000, a peace agreement was signed with FLEC, a still active guerrilla front fighting for the secession of Cabinda. About 65% of Angola’s oil comes from Cabinda.

About half of Angola’s population is affiliated with the Catholic Church, one quarter to one of several protestant churches introduced during the colonial period: Baptists mainly among the Bakongo, Methodists concentrated in the Ambundu area and Congregational within the Ovimbundu, besides smaller communities of reformed and Lutheran Protestants. Adventists, neo-apostolic and a great number of Pentecostal churches, some with a strong Brazilian influence also exist there.

Although tribal languages are mother tongues for most of the population, Portuguese is the first language for about 30% of the Angolan population – a much higher proportion exists in the country’s capital -, while 60% Angolans claim to use it as their first or second tongue.

Angola’s economy was mostly characterized until the 1970’s by a strong farming base with coffee as its main culture. Sugar cane, sisal, corn, coconut oil and peanuts followed closely by order of importance. Among commercial cultures, cotton, tobacco and rubber stood out. Potato, rice, cocoa and banana were also relatively important. Bigger herds were of bovine, caprine and swine cattle.

Angola is mineral-rich, especially in diamonds, oil and iron ore; it also has fields of copper, manganese, phosphates, salt, mica, lead, tin, gold, silver and platinum. Diamond mines are located near Dundo in Luanda’s district. Important oil fields were discovered in 1966, off-shore Cabinda and, later, along the coast towards Luanda, making Angola one of the most important oil countries, displaying an economic development made possible and dominated by this activity. In 1975, uranium deposits were located near the Namibian border. An ever more evident feature of Angolan economics is that a fair share of private investments, made possible through an exaggerated accumulation of wealth in a small number of individuals, is being channeled out of the country. By now, Portugal is the preferential target of these investments applied mostly in banking, energy, telecoms and press but also in grape and fruit growing, real estate and touristic endeavors. (Wikipedia)

With the arrival in 1482 of a Portuguese fleet led by Diogo Cão, Portugal established the first relationship with the Kingdom of Congo, keeping a continuous presence for centuries to come. In 1575, Portugal established a trading post in Luanda, from where it sent the base of control over vast territories in the Angolan hinterland, which became its economic and commercial base. In 1648, Portugal recovered Angola from the Dutch who had taken it in 1641 and initiated a process of military conquest of Congo and Ndongo kingdoms which ended victoriously in 1671. Farther South, Benguela became, in 1617, a second Portuguese trading post assuring the control of a small territory and trade with the tribes in the Central High Plains of Angola. (David Birmingham, Trade and Conflict in Angola, 1966)

In the following centuries, the Portuguese presence in the territory today known as Angola was based in a network of strongholds, mainly dedicated to trade, but very far from an effective occupation and administration of the territory, exception made to those under direct administration of Luanda and Benguela. (David Birmingham. The Portuguese Conquest of Angola, 1965) That type of occupation only occurred when, after the Berlin Conference (1884/85), under the threat of conquest of Angolan territories by other European powers. This dynamic for an effective territorial occupation became a strategic objective of the Portuguese State after Monarchy was replaced by the Republic in Portugal (1910) and became finally a reality from the 1920’s. (Maria da Conceição Neto, A República no seu estado colonial (em Angola): Combater a escravatura, estabelecer o "indigenato", 2010)

In the first two decades of the New State (António Salazar’s authoritarian rule, 1929 - 1974) in Portugal, there was a reinforcement of colonial management based in two pillars: an important immigration of Portuguese to Angola (over 100 000 until 1950) who drove entrepreneurship in farming-based commercial ventures and a native population confined to work in farms, supporting the colony’s economical fabric. In 1962, after political pressures from whites and mixed, many of them already born in Angola, and the first clashes with independence movements, Portugal changed dramatically its colonial policies by granting full citizenship rights  to all inhabitants in Angola, providing universal education, making the colony a province (Overseas Province of Angola) with the same statute as other provinces in Portugal and, later, in 1972, by creating the State of Angola, in an attempt to galvanize the Angolan population for integration in a transcontinental Portugal. (Wikipedia)

The Portuguese revolution of 1974 (Carnation Revolution) brought this process to a full stop and produced a hasty decolonization failing the creation of a national unity government and, thus, plunging Angola, after the independence declaration of 1975, in a 30 year long civil war, forcing the vast majority of 350 000 Portuguese living in Angola to return to Portugal. (Gerald J. Bender & P. Stanley Yoder, "Whites in Angola on the Eve of Independence: The Politics of Numbers", Africa Today, 21 (4), 1974) Public administration, industry, agriculture and trade in Angola were, thus, deprived from its main intellectual capital, a situation still worsened by the return, because of civil war, of the Ovimbundu, the main workforce of plantations and mines, to their homeland in the Central High Plains. The flourishing Angolan economy of the past years collapsed completely and it wasn’t until after the end of the civil war in 2002, to see a new period of economic growth. (Flight from Angola, The Economist, 1975)

Along its more than 30 years of Angolan independence, friendship and cooperation with Portugal have known their highs and lows, but present perspectives are to attain superior relationship levels. (Embaixada da República de Angola em Portugal) Relationships between Portugal and Angola are currently very intense and comprise practically all levels between States, Governments and peoples. This is not, however, a situational phenomenon. For relationships to attain the current levels, it has been necessary a systematic and perseverant work of approach started practically in the day after independence. Each party gave, along years, countless proof of friendship, trust and will. What is there a today result from a joint effort and remarkable perseverance. Portugal – Angola relationships stand out especially for their complementarities and singularity. These are pioneer relationships challenging the traditional paradigm of relationships between European and African nations. (João da Câmara, Embaixador de Portugal em Luanda) Angola leads the demographic dislocation of the Portuguese, with about 100 000 registered in the consular records of this country (Correio da Manhã), while in Portugal live about 30 000 Angolans. (INE) Despite this progressive approach between Angola and Portugal, among some sectors of Angolan population and hierarchy, resentment against the colonial relationship with Portugal still lingers, mainly as a result of the independence war years (1961 – 1974), for which Portugal mobilized tens of thousands soldiers, born in Angola and in Portugal or in other colonial territories and because of the decolonization process that plunged the country in a 30-year civil war. The European dominance and the white supremacy trends that sporadically erupted during colonial times (much more characterized by an intense racial mixing) was replaced, after independence, by a negro against white and Mulato animosity, specially rampant in rural, tribal society’s sectors, associated with the UNITA party, the largest opposer to the ruling party (MPLA), this latter of eminently urban roots, more tolerant towards mixed people and Angolan-born whites who stayed on. (Sílvio Carvalho Filho, UERJ, 2005)

Angola has been an important player within the Community of Lusophone Countries (CPLP), having assured its presidency during 2010-12 and championed the importance of promoting and lending value to Portuguese language in international structures like the UN. In the course of its presidency, Angola also led the first coordinated political reaction of CPLP by executing sanctioning measures against a member-state, specifically, Guinea-Bissau, after the coup of April 12th 2012. (Agência LUSA, 2012) Relationships with the European Union, whose Commission is presided by the Portuguese José Manuel Durão Barroso, have gained momentum in the political and, mainly economical levels. (Europa, 2012) Angola has played an increasingly relevant role in Southern Africa by presiding over the Southern Africa Development Community, also integrated by Mozambique. (ANGOP, 2012) Repeating the historical triangle Portugal – Angola – Brazil, the establishment of close political (Lusa, 2011), trading, (ANGOP, 2012) defense and cultural (ANGOP, 2012) ties between the three countries since 2010 has had a very positive evolution forerunning a new model for relationships between Europe, Africa and South America framed by the great geopolitical challenges anticipated for the XXIst century, namely in ocean and marine resources management, specifically in the South Atlantic, (Económico TV, 2012) seeming to give fulfillment to the vision set by Leopold Senghor when, in the aftermath of the Carnation Revolution, he was the first head of state to visit Portugal and stated that civilization of the XXIst century would be born of mixing and, mainly, of cultural dialog, setting cooperation between Portugal and Brazil as a driver of a new dynamic that would create newer, mixed «Brazils», heralding the future world. (Leopold Senghor, Lusitanidade e Negritude, 1975)

 Litterature and references

Ø  Bastos, Cristiana (2009), "Maria Índia, ou a fronteira da colonização: trabalho, migração e política no planalto sul de Angola", Horizontes Antropológicos, 15(31), pp. 51-74.

Ø  Castelo, Cláudia da Silva (2005), Passagens para a África Portuguesa. O Povoamento de Angola e Moçambique com Naturais da Metrópole (c. 1929-1974), ICS - Universidade de Lisboa, Lisboa (Tese de Doutoramento).

Ø  Castelo, Cláudia da Silva (2007), Passagens para África. O Povoamento de Angola e Moçambique com Naturais da Metrópole : 1920-1974, Porto, Afrontamento.

Ø  Gupta, Pamila (2011), ""Going for a Sunday drive": Angola decolonization, learning whiteness and the Portuguese Diaspora of South Africa", em Francisco Cota Fagundes, Irene Maria F. Blayer, Teresa F. A. Alves, e Teresa Cid (orgs.), Narrating the Portuguese Diaspora. Piecing things together, Nova Iorque, Peter Lang Publishing, pp. 135-152.

Ø  Gupta, Pamila (no prelo), "Decolonization and (Dis)Possession in Lusophone Africa", em Joel Quirk, e Darshan Visnegawaran (orgs.), Theorizing the State in Africa, University of Pennsylvania Press.

Ø  Pires, Rui Pena (2003), Migrações e Integração. Teoria e aplicações à Sociedade Portuguesa, Lisboa, Celta.

Ø  Pires, Rui Pena (coord.), Fernando Luís Machado, João Peixoto, e Maria João Vaz (2010), Portugal. Atlas das Migrações Internacionais, Lisboa, Tinta da China e Gulbenkian.

Ø  Rocha-Trindade, Maria Beatriz (1995), "The repatriation of Portuguese from Africa", em R. Cohen (org.), The Cambridge Survey on World Migration, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, pp. 337-341.

Community celebrities

Isabel dos Santos (Baku, Azerbaijan SSR, April 1973) is an Angolan businesswoman. According to Forbes magazine, her fortune was evaluated in 170 millions of US Dollars in 2011. She is considered the most powerful and rich woman in Angola and sub-Saharan Africa. She is daughter of Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos and his first wife, Tatiana Kukanova, an Azeri. Isabel dos Santos lived most of her life in London, UK. (Wikipedia, 2012)

José Eduardo Agualusa (Huambo, Angola; December 13th 1960) is an Angolan writer. Having a degree in Agronomy, he writes monthly chronics for Portuguese magazine LER and weekly for Angolan newspaper A Capital. He directs the radio show «A Hora das Cigarras» (The Hour of the Cicadas) on African music and poetry, broadcast in Portuguese radio RDP Africa. (Wikipedia, 2012)

Weza Solange is an Angolan TV presenter and model. She was born in Portugal; her father was Commander-in-Chief of Angolan Police. She has university degrees in Management and Marketing and is fluent in Portuguese and English. She, presently, lives in Gauteng, Johannesburg, South Africa. (Personal webpage)

Leila Luliana da Costa Vieira Lopes (Benguela Province, February 26th, 1986) is an Angolan queen of beauty who was elected and crowned Miss Angola 2011 in Luanda on December 18th 2010. On September 12th 2011, she was crowned Miss Universe 2011 in São Paulo, Brazil. (Wikipedia, 2012)

Artur Carlos Maurício Pestana dos Santos, aka Pepetela, (Benguela, October 29th 1941) is an Angolan writer. Holding a degree in Sociology, Pepetela lectures in the Faculty of Architecture of University Agostinho Neto in Luanda. He was awarded the Camões Prize in 2007. (Wikipedia, 2012)

Pedro Manuel Torres, aka Mantorras (Luanda, March 18th 1982) is an Angolan ex-footballer presently working as an ambassador for Sport Lisboa e Benfica, a Portuguese football club. Mantorras played for Angola in the World Cup 2006 in Germany where he played against the Portuguese squad. (Wikipedia, 2012)

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 ANGOLAN KUDURO DANCE (Kuduro litterally means hardass)




 Last updated on October 2012
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