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The International Writers Magazine: ANGOLA

Angola Avante!
• Fred C. Wilson III
“Virtue is stronger when united” is Angola’s motto. After a 27 year no holds barred bloody civil war (1975-2002) there was nothing left to destroy. Angolans are in the process of rebuilding their country from the ground up.

Angola is large, rich, beautiful, but like the overwhelming majority of African countries horribly misruled with the bulk of the people mired in the belly of the beast; abject poverty.

Angola, officially the Republic of Angola (Repubilika ya Ngola), is a country in Southern Africa bordered by Namibia on the south, the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the north, and Zambia on the east; its west coast is on the Atlantic Ocean and Luanda that nation’s capital. The provincial enclave of Cabinda borders the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Angola’s average coastal temperature ranges from 60 degrees F (16 degrees C) during winter and 70 degrees F (21 degrees C) in summer. Angola has two seasons; one dry May to October the other hot and rainy November to April. The official currency is the Kwanza (AOA).
In October of 2013 1 USD = 96.55 AOA, 1 EUR = 130.44 AOA, and 1 GBP = 154.85 AOA.

The Portuguese colonialists ruled primarily from outposts along the Atlantic coast from the 16th through the 19th centuries. They engaged in the usual ‘trades’ common to the times; slavery, land grabbing, mining precious minerals, breeding half castes and anything/anyone they could lay their greedy hands on. Once deadly tropical diseases were medically controlled the colonialists gradually established themselves in the interior. Angola became a full fledged colony of Portugal by the end of the 19th century when ‘effective occupation’ as required by the Berlin Conference of 1884 was established.

The last pocket of native resistance petered out during the 1920s after the Mbunda resistance and abduction of King Mwene Mbandu I Lyondthzi Kapova. Independence was achieved in 1975 after a long and dirty war for liberation. But peace didn’t come even after independence. Angola was the scene of a long, bloody, vicious fratricidal war. After the slaughter ended in 2002 local monarchies still commanded a sizeable following despite the shifts in central government. Areas such as Baixa de Cassanje continue their lineage of kings included former monarch Kambamba Kulaxingo and current King Dianhenga Aspirante Mjinji Kulaxingo.

Angola has vast mineral and petroleum reserves. Its economy has grown by double-digits since the 1990s. Though Angola is large and mega-rich its people remain dirt poor.

Oil Beach Angola is plagued with the same socio-economic disease that infects an estimated 95% of the global population; the nation’s wealth is concentrated in the hands of the educated elite while the people starve and war among themselves. *But it does have an 80% literacy rate so things are looking up for the general population - see UNICEF stats.

Angolan life expectancy and infant mortality rates are among the worst on the planet. Angola is a member state of the African Union, the Community of Portuguese Language Countries, the Latin Union and the Southern African ‘Development’ Community.

Angolans had to endure so much pain and suffering they’ve devolved into a nation of stoics. Cynicism and complacency rule the day. Despite the evils that plagued them throughout most of their history the people try to live each day at a time and will use any excuse to party. The people are musically inclined. They sing from their hearts and pour their souls in to everything they do. Like the supposed Tahitian sage ‘you eat life or life will eat you’ Angolans eat, drink in, dance, and celebrate the gift of living. Considering all they’ve endured this mindset is understandable if not perplexing.

Like most of Africa Angola is a pesthole. A multiplicity of epidemics lurks in search of hapless human victims. Cholera, rabies, malaria, hemorrhagic fever, tuberculosis, sleeping sickness, HIV(around 2.1 percent of the population), river blindness, dengue fever, and many other horrors that ravish the human body and spirit are legion; beware of insects, rats, urine attracting worms, and everything that crawls, flies, swims, and slitters. *Around 140,000 children have been orphaned due to HIV. To add insult to injury Angola has a high rate of domestic violence. Medicines common in the developed world are largely absent in this country hence diseases of all sorts have free reign and wreak havoc with impunity. When in Angola see a doctor ASAP if you fall prey to any and all of the above mentioned ills.

Explore the inland beauty of Angola and Pedras Negra rocks.

I’m not trying to discourage you from visiting this country. I want you to know what you may be up against if Angolan travel is on your agenda; ‘forewarned is forearmed.’ Not many Angolans speak English; after being under the heel of Portugal for so long it's a given that the language of their former oppressors has wormed its way in to the national lexicon.
Pedras Negra Angola

A working knowledge of Portuguese is a must. If you speak Spanish, Portuguese should be a cinch. French and Afrikaans are helpful since a lot of immigrants come from French speaking countries and South Africa.

Common sense is a must in any situation. Don’t travel without a qualified personal assistant; they know the places you don’t. ‘Diddley-bopping’ around Luanda after dark like you’re at home back on the block can have tragic consequences. Never go out alone after dark. Please excuse my paranoia. I grew up and live in Chicago which alone speaks for itself. We teach our kids the elementary rules of survival as soon as they can walk. I wouldn’t advise driving alone for obvious reasons. If your car breaks down getting spare parts will difficult unless you get robbed first. Carry a satellite phone for emergencies. Iridium phones have global coverage. Thuraya phones cover most of Angola except for the southern provinces; check with your cellular telephone provider on this.

Whenever I’m in the Philippines (I have relatives over there.) I always stay in my vehicle windows up doors locked. During an anti-American demonstration against Colin Powell’s then US Secretary of State’s Manila speech I had to hide under a blanket as our SUV rounded a corner for fear some demonstrators might ID me as an American. In the Philippines I go to banks, restaurants, hotels, churches, and other public places that staff security personnel in case something bad goes down. When in Angola do as Angolans do; don’t take stupid chances and try to blend in.

Never take pictures of police officers, military personnel, government buildings, and people with guns. If you do expect a stiff fine, possible imprisonment, getting shot, or have one or more of Angola’s finest beat the living hell out you. Case in point: when I was serving as a missionary in southern Mexico we had this volunteer American doctor on staff that was dumb enough to try to take a soldiers rifle out of the man’s hand as he stood guard. He wanted to take a picture of himself holding the man’s gun! Luckily for the good doctor the soldier merely shooed him off. Where was I during all this; I was busy trying to get as much road between him and me as I could. Why should I die for this fool? Why so-called ‘smart’ people go abroad and get stupid is beyond me. To insure your safety overseas log in to the U.S. State Department Travel Advisory on Angola at Angola-Travel.State.Gov/.

National Geographic and other travel magazines periodically list countries that are littered with land mines. If you travel to this African country watch where you walk. Beware of land mines left over from Angola’s previous wars. You step on one of these little suckers you may not get killed but you’ll return home minus a leg…an arm…or maybe carrying a white and red cane accompanied by a seeing eye dog and wearing dark glasses. In Angola all signs or rocks painted red generally denote land mine locations.

Angola bound travelers should be advised that all national currency stays there upon exit. If you try to sneak out Kwanza notes airport authorities will confiscate them and fine you. Assuming you’ve traveled abroad you should already know never drink the water unless in an emergency. If you must drink it boil it three times letting it cool after each boiling. I’m not an expert on water filtration. I suggest you consult a credible source on that subject. Drink mineral water.

If you find yourself in a sexual situation better ‘pack plastic’ use condoms. . I in 25 or 4.0% of the Angolan population suffer from sexual transmitted diseases; don’t be a statistic because of unprotected sex. Not only are you risking your life think about your significant other at home. Why should they suffer/die because of your stupid mistakes? For additional information regarding STD’s consult the Angolan Embassy (

World Facebook estimates that 47% of Angolans follow indigenous religions. 53% of the population professes Christianity (38% Catholicism-15% Protestantism). The Angolan religious communities fare pretty well with each other. Only the ‘New Churches’ or evangelicals are aggressive proselytizers. Catholic and Protestant denominations are very active in providing quality and free medical care, free education, crop seeds, and farm animals to Angola’s teeming poor.

Angola isn’t credit card friendly when it comes to dining out. All restaurants do a cash only trade. Food is expensive, restaurant hygiene sub-standard and state-of-the-art restaurant equipment next to non-existent but don’t let this scare you off. Local cuisine is varied and quite good. If you like African food there’s a wide variety of fish dishes, hot stews, and a host of cassava meals. Since Angola is on the Atlantic Ocean seafood that normally would cost an ‘arm and a leg’ here in Chicago where I live its’ cheap in Angola.
Fresh lobster straight from the ocean and on the boat is an everyday thing if you live along the seacoast. All fruit is fresh and organically grown. Since fish and fruit is top of the line in freshness and quality you may have a tough time getting use to it. Most foods in so-called ‘developed’ countries are canned, laced with cancer and other disease causing preservatives. If you prefer fine dining Luanda has many beachfront restaurants of varying price ranges to suit your wallet/purse from the most elegant to where the locals eat the latter usually the best places.

Now that the fighting has stopped (for now) nice restaurants, hotels, and spas are on the upswing. Angolans are investing heavily in their country’s infrastructure. Angola is trying hard to overcome bad press within the global tourist industry. World class hotels are being built to accommodate that country’s emerging tourist industry. The Tropico, Alvalade, Le President, Meridien, Continental, and Palm Beach are but a few luxury hotels that dot Luanda’s skyline. Go to: for a complete listing of places to stay in Angola.

African customs are colorful and varied. The Angolan festival calendar is decked with holidays. There’s the November 11th Angolan Independence Day, a flurry of Christian holidays, a myriad number of family celebrations, and cultural rituals associates with major/minor events in individual/collective lives. African masks symbolize the workings of major/minor mythological characters. Each ethnic group has their own mask making styles. Angolans like all African countries have a rich tradition of storytelling.

World class visual artist Antonio Ole was born in Luanda in 1951. Bi-racial of mixed Angolan and Portuguese ancestry Ole studied African-American culture and cinema at the University of California and the American Film Institute. In 1985 he returned to his native Angola. Ole has held exhibitions globally. He has shown at the National Museum of African Art in Washington, DC and London’s Haywood Gallery of Art. An artist who specializes in diverse projects his range of artistic talents covers film, photography, and sculpture all of which focus on the human struggle.

Angola has many tourist attractions. Luanda’s Cidada Alta church was built by the colonists in the 1700’s. Then there’s the Museu Nacional de Antropologia with its superb collection of folk art, Ilha do Massula Beach with its’ coconut palms and accompanying restaurants/bars all of which delight the visual senses of the savvy traveler. For a complete listing of things to do on your Angolan holiday please consult ‘Major Tourist Attractions in Angola-Travelspedia.’ Enjoy Angola!

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