Sunday, August 7, 2016

Rio and Beyond: Angola

I know nothing about Angola except this: it is yet another authoritarian state on a planet with far too many authoritarian states. So here are some sad facts about a long-suffering country.

Angola got its independence from Portugal in 1975. It was a communist country at one point and suffered a 27 year civil war. The current president has been in power since 1979. Oil is a major industry (wait, what? An oil country with conflict? Geez.) Most of the oil is found in the Carbinda province, which wants to separate from the rest of the country. The dictator appointed his daughter as head of the state-run oil firm, and she is listed as one of the wealthiest people in Africa. (NOTE TO TRUMPERS: Dictators appoint their daughters to prominent government positions.)

Life expectancy in Angola is only 50 years for men and 53 years for women. Good lord. If that doesn't make your heart cry out for the people there, you aren't human.

Angola is a perfect example of the importance of social media - it is the only way people are allowed to express political anger, as it is too dangerous to protest in the streets. The government would shoot them down.

The capital city, Luanda, was a major hub in the slave trade for the Portuguese. One of the points of interest is the National Museum of Slavery. In it you will discover that slavery was well established before the Portuguese arrived, as the Imbangala and Mbundu tribes were involved in slave trading, which made it much easier for the Portuguese to set up shop and expand this horror on a vast scale. The Portuguese sided with the Imbangala, who captured their Mbundu enemies and sold them to the Portuguese for guns. Eventually, the Mbundu were wiped out. Portugal exported slaves from Luanda at a rate of 5,000 to 10,000 per year during the eighteenth century. Even after slavery was abolished, forced labor was inflicted upon Angolans.

Slavery hasn't died in Angola. Child trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation, forced labor, and sexual slavery are all rampant in the country. The government refuses to comply with even the minimum standards to combat human trafficking.

Sorry, Angola, but you are on my list of If I Never Visit, I Won't Miss It. Although I am interested in that museum, and I'm sure you have good beaches.

Capital: Luanda
Major cities: Lobito
Population:  21.47 million
Athletes in the Olympics: 26
Medals in history: 0
Languages spoken: Portuguese, Umbundu, Kimbundu, Kikongo
Heroes: Queen Nzinga (17th century queen known for her diplomatic skill - this woman was incredible and should be more widely known), Agostinho Neto (1st president)
Bad guys: Jose Eduardo dos Santos (dictator), Portuguese imperialists, Imbangala slave traders
Persecuted groups: Muslims (Angola is a Christian nation), Apocalyptic Christians

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