Angola is an unknown jewel.  While Nigeria is massive and South Africa is [relatively] rich [for Africa].  Angola has 25 MM ppl yet is one of the most fascinating places I’ve ever been.

It was a major slave port so it is estimated that Angolan blood runs through the veins of up to a quarter of Black people in the Americas.

It’s the Angolan soul in kizomba and semba that you hear echoing through the Brazilian samba.  Angolan men and women [IMHO] are some of the most attractive in sub-Saharan Africa.  The Portuguese colonial rule left [superficial] layers of sophistication and familiar European feel in customs, architecture and of course,  some of the food.

Because it was Africa’s second biggest oil producer after Nigeria, it went through a huge oil boom in the 2000s, which is when I started going.

It struggles with some of the most notorious corruption and crippling inequality on the continent.

There, that’s just a little introduction to one of my [nevertheless] favorite African countries, despite its contradictions.

 

Maybe a quarter of a million people are living that lush life (and that estimate may be generous).  Like pictured here in Mussulo Island where I went with some wealthy Angolan friends.  I think our meal was about 150-something dollars per person at the resort pictured here and by the way, it was friggin delicious and sumptuous.

There is no place like Luanda or Lagos. That I know for sure.  Because of my education and work, my time in Luanda was spent experiencing that upper-class life.  Naturally.But my time in Mbanza-Kongo, I was spending more time with farmers.  They are also pictured here, including me with the adorable kids.

I’m pretty sure their incomes are more in line with the 50% of the Angolan population that lives below the $2 USD per day threshold.

And that percentage below the poverty line is likely to keep going up because 1) they’re in a crisis due to dependency on oil.  2) theres a moral crisis in which very few of the wealthy in Angola care about distribution and lifting their brothers and sisters into self-sufficiency.  There’s a lot of greed and not a lot of true solidarity.

I know we also have terrible inequality in USA.  But there are fewer people suffering with lack of access to water electricity or health care because of it.

And this made me very sad on my last trip to Angola and even affected my faith in the country’s ability to revamp its post-war economy.

But I still will be back (whenever work sends me) and will do my part to contribute to the country’s socio-economic progress

Glimpses of Angola

Informal market

Kupapata

Beautiful kids