28 December 2010

cAr tRiP ViDeO & mY oBsErVaTioNs iN aNgoLa...

This was my little trial to make a movie of my trip from Luanda to Benguela by car...
I went with my father, my brother Jorge and his 2 sons, Keanu and Eric... This was the first time I could make this trip by car cuz before the roads were not safe to drive...
It's been 6 years since I last came here and many things have changed... The war only ended in 2002 (after more than 40 years), and when I came here in 2005 there were still not many changes... 

now I see building sites everywhere, lots of Chinese writings in the Industrial areas... the Chinese Companies are building the roads, putting energy and running water in the major cities (most of it, or at least when they came here first, with chinese prisoners...hmm) well, Luanda is still chaotic to me... but as we drove out of the capital city we could still feel in the wild Africa... and I'm glad with it :-)... Just for your curiosity, Luanda is the most expensive city in the whole world, as hard as it is to understand in a country where there is still so much "poverty"... For me to get my visa in the Angolan Consulate in Lisbon , I had to prove that I had 200 USD for each day I was staying in Angola (and I am Angolan and have my parents living there)...of course, I had 3500E lent in my bank account to show them I had that to spend... even my bank was surprised with that... But the truth is that people easily spend that in Luanda... you can easily pay 50 USD  for a meal, and I'm sure that accommodation is way more than 100 USD a day... you are considered lucky if you find a 3500 USD rent for a flat with 2 rooms, without sanitation nor elevator...
in contrast with Luanda's lifestyle, life expectancy in Angola is still 48 years old, half of the population doesn't have access to running water, and 54,3% live under poverty levels...
Yet things are changing, cuz in 2003, one year after the end of the war, 70% of all Angolans were living with less than 1 USdollar a day... (with another "detail" that the Angolan President is one of the richest man in the world)... Angola, the land of contrasts...

well, there is real "poverty" here, but also those that are called "poor", but they are not really so "poor"...let me see if I can explain myself... in my opinion, there is a sort of "poverty" that is more propaganda than reality... and then , there is real poverty... these 2 pictures represent that... on the left we see two people who probably don't have their basic needs met, or maybe they were deported from their land with the war and got stuck in the city, trying to make a living by selling coal... they might have been caught in alcohol addiction, and they are stuck in the system somehow...  the picture above is a normal Angolan village, everyone lives in mud huts, probably with a healthy community life where everyone has their role and they all help each other... they might plant their own food, maybe have some goats, some of them go to the cities to sell their products and bring things like oil, salt and sugar... Now, I don't see these latter ones as poor... maybe they don't live the same lifestyle as europeans or americans live, maybe they don't have the same "stuff"... but is that poverty?
Basic things are still needed in many places throughout Angola, this I agree... like access to drinking water, sanitation, health care and education... but in terms of natural resources, we can say that all Angolans are rich (or they should) ... And I'm not speaking here about petrol, diamonds and other minerals...this is what many people and big companies are coming here for... this was the reason to keep a bloody war for so many years (if you ever watched "Bloody Diamond", here is pretty much the same sad reality) .. this is what the leaders (both political and army) are still holding on to...
I'm talking about the land, the sea, the climate and the many natural building resources... it's simply rich !!! (even though I also found out that most part of the land belongs to the ex- high rank army officers) ...
Many foreigners are coming to make looooooots of money, but it's not so bad for the Angolans, as there are now many more opportunities for everyone to make a living... I don't see the usual beggars and street kids as before... there are lots of people walking around in the cities selling all sort of things to make a living, and every little business make some money... Like my mom... she cooks at home and sells for other people and their parties, mostly friends, and friends of friends... she doesn't need to work much to make a living... and these kind of things would be impossible in Europe, with so many laws and regulations...
Of course the big businesses are suffering with the global financial crises, but still, I believe it's nothing compared to what we see in Europe or the USA... speaking about billions of US dollars is still normal around here... unfortunately there is still much corruption, but I can already see a change on that as well... I can see people want change... how that change will look like in some years, we will see... I do see "the american dream" and a society of consumerism rising, but I also see many good parts of the angolan culture been preserved and developed... we will see...
But I have to say... it's a beautiful country with really beautiful people !!!

3 comments:

Marcia Luz said...

obrigada camba por este post, quase que consegui cheirar angola =)

Anonymous said...

Hi Barbara,

Thanks for the update. It's great to hear about your trip to Angola, see some pictures and hear of some of the changes. Did you get to go to the base while you were there? How is everyone? I hope your family are all well too.

Love Jacqui xx

Baba said...

HI Jacqui, nice to read your comment... unfortunately I didn't get to go to the base... it was raining quite a bit and my mom's car would not go there... even though the road from Benguela to Lobito is quite nice (too much actually, it's almost like a high-way...and now the cars can go so fast that many people get killed...shame), the one to the base is the same dirt road... but anyway, the reason why I went to Angola was to be with my parents, so I didn't leave home much and helped my mom with her cookings :-)... I contacted Marcia but she was in Brazil till the 5th of January...I wanted to see her as I was only leaving on the 11th, but she didn't got in touch...and me neither as I was "busy" at home, and thought she might have been busy too with "arriving"... so, we missed that opportunity... I asked her who was at the base that I would know, but she forgot to mention that on her e.mail... so , I really don't know who is there at the moment...anyway, maybe next time :-)