Monday, October 6, 2014

Saving Angola's Indigenous Languages

Angola is a plurilingual country, with six African languages recognized as national languages as well as Portuguese as the official language.  Besides this, it is estimated that there are 37 languages and 50 dialects in use in the country. At the end of October 2013, the blog Círculo Angolano Intelectual (Angolan Intellectual Circle) reported that 30 percent of the Angolan population (almost 8.5 million Angolans) only speak national languages which are not featured in any educational or social program and noted that this factor contributes to provoke social exclusion.

“On average, a language disappears every two weeks, and Africa is the continent most at risk”, wrote the author José Eduardo Agualusa in a 2011 article on the evolution of languages in Angola. However, during the past year a number of online platforms have been created with the aim of protecting Angola's national languages

In an attempt to counter the phenomenon, various online initiatives were created during 2013 by young people who view the new technologies as a tool for the promotion and protection of national languages.

One project, still in its initial phase, which aims to promote learning of the Angolan national languages in an innovative way, free of charge and accessible to everyone with access to the Internet, is Evalina. 

Created in May 2013 by Joel Epalanga, an IT project manager in the telecommunications sector, the primary motive for the creation of the platform was the observation that there is a gap faced by many young people with regard to the national languages.

Evalina consists of a Facebook page where content such as incentives to learn and lessons on national languages are shared. At the date of publication of this article, the page featured lessons on Umbundu, the second most-spoken language after Portuguese, and on Kimbundo.

Another project which stands out is the Ngola Yetu Dictionary, a dictionary and online translator for Angolan national languages “developed with the goal of reinforcing Angolan culture and increasing its use among young people”. With a simple and intuitive design not unlike Google, it works as a search engine between the Kikongo, Kimbundo, Umbundo and Portuguese languages. The project has used Facebook and Twitter to interact with web users.


Between 2004 and 2010, a trial was carried out to introduce seven national languages in a series of schools in the country. The Ministry of Education declared in September 2013 that it plans to expand the teaching of national languages into all primary schools. A bill on the Statute of National Language in Angola ”to promote social inclusion and strengthen unity in ethno linguistic diversity” is in its concluding phase. (Global Voices, 2014)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Keila: An Original Angola Board Game

Kiela is a mancala game played by Kimbundu speaking people in northern Angola near Grandos Lagos and Alto Zambeze. The name of the game means "puzzle" or "mindsport"
The game plays an important role in the oral literature and it is said to be a game of peace because "it can turn enemies into friends".
The "Instituto Nacional do Património Cultural" reports that the first official tournament was held in 1989 by the SIAC/Fenacult.  Later in 1999, the government of Angola instituted the "Prémio Kiela", a tournament which has offered prizes up to 1,500 US$ for the winner. In the early 2000s, the game was supported by the Angolan Ministry of Culture and the province governor Aníbal Rocha.
In 1991, Bernardo Francisco Campos developed the first Kiela software and registered it with the Directorate of Spectacles Property Rights, in Lisbon.  Later in 2001, Campos founded an Angolan organization called "Associação para a Promoção do Kiela (Aprokiela)" with the objective to promote Kiela and other cultural values. Campos also trademarked the game in 18 countries, among them South Africa, the European Union, and the USA.

Playing Rules
Kiela is played on a board made by four rows of ten holes. Each player controls the two rows on his side of the board.
The initial position depends on the experience and strength of the players:
   Beginners start with one seed in each hole of the outer rows and one stone in each of the four right holes of each player's inner row.





Initial Position for Beginners

   Advanced players start with two seeds per hole in the same holes as described above.






Initial Position for Advanced Players

   Expert players may, at their first turn, rearrange the stones on their side.






Possible Position after Expert Play

At his turn a player takes the contents of one of his holes, which contains two or more seeds, and sows them one by one anti-clockwise into the succeeding holes of his board side.
If the last stone lands in an empty hole, the turn ends.
If the last stone lands in an occupied hole all these stones (the one just landed plus the ones that were already there) are picked up and sown in another lap.
   If this occupied hole is in the inner row and the opposite hole of the opponent is occupied, the stones of this hole are captured and the player keeps on sowing with them starting in the hole following the one that allowed him to capture.
   If the outer hole of the opponent is also occupied, the player captures also its stones, and then sows the stones of both opponent's holes.

When a player cannot move (i.e., all his holes are empty or contain single stones), he has lost. (From Mancala.wikia.com)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Angola's Fishing Resurgence


Angola currently produces over 300,000 tons per year of fish and crustaceans, of which some 85% is consumed locally and aims to increase production by 30% in the coming years.  One-third of Angola’s animal protein comes from fish and artisan fishing represents 30% of the country’s total fishing activity countrywide.

Despite a clear abundance of fish stocks, there is, as yet, no intense exploitation of the resource and few sizeable fishing vessels are in evidence.   Nevertheless, such is the plenitude that Angolan’s fish and shellfish industry is already returning to its former pre-war prosperity.

Fisheries minister Victória de Barros Neto believes Angola has the potential to land much greater catches.  The long coastline, normally blessed with hospitably calm seas, is clearly capable of greater sustained development and of providing food resources to meet the population’s demand for a healthier diet.   Angola’s coast is 1,600 km long and its exclusive economic zone waters cover 330,000 sq. km.

As part of its effort to boost the fishing industry, Angola will hold its first ever International Fishing and Aquaculture Fair.  FIP Angola (Feira Internacional das Pescas e da Aquaculture de Angola) runs from November 27-30. The event claims to promote the quality of fishery products, facilitate the exchange of experience and encourage innovation.  Over 15 various countries have signed up to participate in this knowledge-sharing program.

Angola also has a well-developed tradition of sea angling as a sport along its extensive and uncrowded coast. The most accessible type of hobby-fishing involves beach-casting where not only record-sized fish can be captured, but provides a cost-efficient food source.

Game fishing from boats, is conducted by long-established clubs to distances as far as 50km offshore to hunt giant fighting fish such as blue marlins and tarpon.

Some of the largest Atlantic sailfish are caught off Luanda, and a record specimen of 64.6kg was landed off Lobito in March 2014.   Angolan holds many of the world line records for sailfish and a Sailfish Classic game fish competition is held in Luanda every year with contestants taking part from around the globe.

Angola’s Ministry of Fisheries is making large investments in long-term structuring, spending $60 million on two fisheries protection and research vessels.  These will help fight illegal fishing of protected species while also acting as rescue boats. In order to reinforce Angola’s capacity to control and inspect fisheries, the ministry also acquired scientific research vessel Pensador to study phytoplankton and zooplankton.

Another Ministry of Fisheries initiative announced in June involves using fish waste and fish with low commercial value in the production of animal feed supplements and fertilizer. The effort will also reduce the problem of environmental contamination.


The future looks increasingly bright for Angola’s diet as well as the fish and seafood resources that serve it. (From Sonangol Universo Magazine Sept 2014)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Ovimbundu Wisdom! No. 8

Here is another Ovimbundu wisdom proverb.  Enjoy!

Proverb: Etako lia muine omangu, utima ka wa muine omangu. 

Translation: Body is easily satisfied but not the heart. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Angolan Food: Pudim Dessert

Pudim Dessert


This is a light and moist pudding that has a long history in Angolan culture and households. This recipe has a hint of passion fruit (a fruit native to Angola) and for a richer version of the dessert, add fresh cream. 

INGREDIENTS
250g condensed milk
3 large eggs
3 passion fruits (or 4 oz. Coconut)
2 cup milk full fat or semi-skimmed
2 tsp flour
1/2 cup Sugar – for caramel

METHOD
Pre heat boiling hot water, gas level 4: add the sugar in chiffon cake tube tin, place the tin in the fire gas level 2 until it turns to caramel, leave to cool aside, in a clear bowel. Whisk the eggs together, then add the condensed milk and continue to whisk. Add the milk, passion fruit, 2 flour and whisk together.

Put the mix in the cake tin cover, if you don't have a cover use clean fill to cover the pudding and cover the water pan and put in the boiling water for 30-35 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, place in a plate to serve. (From Angolan Food Recipes)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

African Folklore: The Hare and the Crocodile

(A Hambakushu legend)   Long, long ago, Ngando the Crocodile lived in a quiet backwater in the swamps of the Great Okavango.  One day, a herd of Zebra came down to drink at his creek.  Ngando was envious of their grace and beauty and of the freedom with which they roamed the plains.  He was bored with his little stretch of water, so he asked the Zebras if he could live with them on the open grasslands.

"How could you live with us?" asked the Zebras.  "The plains are so far away from the water?"

"Oh, I'm sure I will be able to manage," replied Ngando, more hopefully than truthfully.

So when the Zebras filed away after their drink, Ngando the Crocodile heaved himself up the bank and followed them.  Soon, he was left far behind and the Zebras had to wait for him to catch up.

By noon, it was so hot that Ngando could go no further.  He dug himself in beneath a shady tree.  He was so tired he slept as though he was dead.  When on of the Zebras returned to look for him, he though the crocodile had indeed died.  So the Zebra left him where he was.

While Ngando slept, Hare strolled past.  Hare saw the adventurous crocodile sleeping beneath the shady tree.  Hare woke him up (very carefully!), and asked him why he was so far from his home in the water.

"I foolishly followed the Zebras. But they ran off and left me all alone." said Ngando.  "I would be very grateful for some assistance in getting home," he added, hopefully.

Hare offered to help, provided Ngando promised him a favor in return. The desperate crocodile quickly agreed and the Hare ran off to get help.