Angola

April 2, 2013

These friendly teenagers holding Bibles were going home from
church and were curious about the origins of the rare foreigners.

Angola is another poor country that is resource rich. But, ten years after the end of over two decades of bloody civil wars, Angola may at last be poised to exploit its massive oil and mineral deposits.

Portuguese rule ended in 1975, but Portuguese is still the language of instruction in schools and ties with Portugal and Brazil are still close.

We first docked in Lobito and rode for an hour on an old train to Benguela, a once important colonial city now enjoying a revival.

Kids were excited to see waving tourists on the train and ran along trying to keep up.

Parishioners were departing Easter services at a historic but simple Catholic church.
Playing soccer in the central park of Benguela on a warm Sunday afternoon.
To host the 2010 African Cup, Angola built several grand soccer
stadiums that seemed wildly out of place amid the poor housing nearby.
Back in Lobito, lots of exuberant Angolans were dancing at
their regular Sunday afternoon party on the waterfront.

Capoeira, the demanding Brazilian martial arts dancing, was said to have come from Angolan slaves in northeast Brazil, although some locals here insisted it began in Angola and was copied in Brazil.

Luanda is Angola's capital and home to 5 million people, making it not only one of the largest cities in Africa, but the third largest Portuguese-speaking city in the world (behind São Paulo and Rio).

Since the end of the civil war, skyscrapers have begun to sprout in Luanda's city center along the reconstructed waterfront drive.
Like nearly all cities in developing countries, Luanda has plenty of favelas or musseques as they are called here. (An anthropologist on this voyage says that "shantytowns" is actually a respectable term for them.)
Nothing special about this downtown, high-rise apartment
building.  I just liked the grid with laundry.

Angola's flag switched the classic Marxist hammer and sickle to a African machete and cogwheel.
Right: The director opens the mausoleum of President Neto for a rare tour.


This tower is for the mausoleum and memorial for Dr. Neto
Agostinho Neto, Angola's first president and leader of the
victorious, pro-communist MPLA in the ensuing
civil war that lasted over two decades.



I'm lacking a good symbolic photograph of one of the notable things visible across the country:  the heavy Chinese involvement in the infrastructure, in expanding Chinese companies here, and of course in mineral extraction.


The Angolans we encountered were very welcoming and sweet, with big warm smiles. Several voiced hopes that we liked their country and indeed we did.