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. 

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

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.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Esteeming the Albinos in Angola

It is increasingly common to find people with albinism in the streets of Luanda, the capital of Angola. Though living in normal surroundings, in the African context, albinos live with constant social misunderstandings, prejudice, and discrimination concerning their medical condition.  

The word albinism (from Latin albus, 'white', is a congenital disorder characterized by the complete or partial absence of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes due to absence or defect or an enzyme involved in the production of melanin.  Many forms of albinism are associated with sensitive to light (photophobia) and rapid eye movement.  The lack of pigmentation of the skin causes the body to become more susceptible to sunburn and skin cancer.

In Africa, especially in the eastern area, people with albinism have their lives constantly at risk because of superstition that gave them super-natural powers. Many believe that they are “luck” creatures, hence they are killed so that their organs can be used in witchcraft or so that the perpetrator can “inherit luck” of the deceased. The legs and hands amputated are sold to people who use them as talismans, for according to their beliefs, luck or repel evil spirits. Fishermen put albinos’ hair in their fish nets to succeed in the fishery. Miners hang amulets on their necks made from crushed bones and believe that the powder resulting from the bones, after some time buried, turns into diamonds. Those albinos who die are buried by their relatives in places where the remains cannot be unearth by the wizards’ suppliers.

A report published by the UN says that albinos “are often considered ghosts and not human beings”. In some areas they are also killed and buried with the deceased tribal chiefs so that they are not left alone in their graves. Some politicians want to get an amulet to ensure their victory in the elections. Groups of experts of the UN have spoken out and warned against such behavior. One of them is Christof Heyns, Special Rapporteur on Extra-judicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions. 

Angola is one of the few countries where prejudices against people with albinism is not as strong when compared to other African countries. They have a normal life, some occupying positions of responsibility within society.  One of the main reasons may be due to the fact that the use of popular skin whitening products is not part of Angolan culture, which creates an acceptance and an inherent mixing index between peoples. With these features, Angola turns out to be a peculiar country in the African context in light of the Angolan behavior of respecting albino's differences, allowing them to feel proud of what they are in their condition, to thus foster a high self-esteem.

Not everything is perfect as expressed by albino Guilherme Santos, President of ADRA. He adds that often the harassment, discrimination and stereotyping arise from family members. Thus, there remains some prejudice in society from psychological baggage which can be overcome if everyone is involved in giving psychosocial support to family members of people with albinism. 

To provide support, that emerges in a natural and spontaneous way, the Volunteer Support Group for People with Albinism in Angola   Grupo Voluntário de Apoio a Pessoas com Albinismo em Angola (GVAPAA), has been formed. Comprised of a group of citizens of various nationalities who do not seek legal or financial gain, these individuals joined in order to support Angola albinism in a sustainable manner. They believe that education and informing of the people with albinism as well as their families and their community, is the best and most sustainable way to help. In the same line of action, the Association of Support to Albinos of Angola (AAAA), represented by the acronym “4As” includes all persons who wish to join for the good of the Association. It is a philanthropic organization, of National character and unprofitable. (TAAG Austral Magazine 2014)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Choosing the 7 Natural Wonders of Angola

Following 10 months of public vote casting, the 7 Natural Wonders of Angola were chosen – the Tundavala Fault in Huíla; the Maiombe Forest in Cabinda; the Nzenzo Grottoes in Uíge; Lake Carumbo in Lunda-Norte; the Moco Hill in Huambo; the Kalandula Falls in Malanje; the Rio Chiumbe Falls in Lunda-Sul. 

These were the beauties of nature in Angola that received most votes from July 2013 to May 2014, chosen from 27 finalists. Before the voting took place, six tele- vision channels showed 27 short films with previously unseen footage of all the finalists. The six channels were TPA1, TPA2, TPA International, RTP International, SIC International and TVI International. 

According to the organizers of the event, National Seven Wonders: “This was pioneering. Nothing like it had been done before in Angola.” There was also a road show, traversing the country’s 18 provinces, with live television cover- age of the finalists, the culture and the tradition of each area. 

The choice of the 7 Wonders was part of the program “Amo Angola” (I Love Angola), billed as a way of “preserving the wealth of nature, highlighting the national heritage, promoting tourism and regional culture.” For the selection procedure, a scientific council was set up, comprising of representatives of the Ministries of Culture, the Environment, and the Tourism and Hospitality Industry, celebrities and well known figures from each of the country’s 18 provinces. 

Angola became the first country in Africa to choose its Natural Wonders and is a first stage in the selection of the New 7 Wonders of the World, an initiative of the New 7 Wonders Foundation, which is headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland. It was set up in 2001 by the Swiss philanthropist Bernard Weber. (TAAG Austral Magazine 2014)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Angola's Heroic Queen

Queen Njinga a Mbande was a 17th-century Angolan queen of the Mbundu people in the Ndongo Kingdom, is one of Africa's best documented early-modern rulers and is considered to be a heroine not only in Angola, but across Africa and in the African diaspora.

Historians speak of her as "a legend in her lifetime, who, with her heroics, was able to preserve the sovereignty of the peoples of Angola and because of this she became a symbol in the whole Congo basin."

Njinga first appears in the historical records as the envoy of her brother, the King Ngola Mbande at a peace conference with the Portuguese governor João Correia de Sousa in Luanda in 1622.

The immediate cause of her embassy was her brother's attempt to get the Portuguese to withdraw the fortress of Ambaca that had been built on his land in 1618 by the Governor Mendes de Vasconcelos, to have some of his subjects  who had been taken captive during Governor Mendes de Vasconcelos' campaigns (1617–21) returned and to persuade the governor to stop the marauding of Angolan mercenaries in Portuguese service. Queen Njinga's efforts were successful. The governor, João Correia de Sousa, never gained the advantage at the meeting and agreed to her terms, which resulted in a treaty on equal terms. One important point of disagreement was the question of whether the Ndongo Kingdom surrendered to Portugal and accepted vassalage status.

A famous story says that in her meeting with the Portuguese governor, João Correia de Sousa did not offer a chair to sit on during the negotiations, and, instead, had placed a floor mat for her to sit, which in Mbundu custom was appropriate only for subordinates. The scene was imaginatively reconstructed by the Italian priest Cavazzi and printed as an engraving in his book of 1687. Not willing to accept this degradation she ordered one of her servants to get down on the ground and sat on the servant's back during negotiations. By doing this, she asserted her status was equal to the governor, proving her worth as a brave and confident individual.

Njinga converted to Christianity, possibly in order to strengthen the peace treaty with the Portuguese, and adopted the name Dona Anna de Sousa in honour of the governor's wife when she was baptised, who was also her godmother. She sometimes used this name in her correspondence (or just Anna). The Portuguese never honoured the treaty however, neither withdrawing Ambaca, nor returning the subjects, who they held were slaves captured in war, and they were unable to restrain the mercenaries.

In 1657, weary from the long struggle, Njinga signed another peace treaty with Portugal. After the wars with Portugal ended, she attempted to rebuild her nation, which had been seriously damaged by years of conflict and over-farming. She permitted Capuchin missionaries, first Antonio da Gaeta and the Giovanni Antonio Cavazzi da Montecuccolo to preach to her people. Both wrote lengthy accounts of her life, kingdom, and strong will.
She devoted her efforts to resettling former slaves and allowing women to bear children. Despite numerous efforts to dethrone her, especially by Kasanje, whose mercenary band settled to her south, Njinga would die a peaceful death at age eighty on 17 December 1663 in Matamba. Matamba went though a civil war in her absence, but Francisco Guterres Ngola Kanini eventually carried on the royal line in the kingdom. Her death accelerated the Portuguese occupation of the interior of South West Africa, fueled by the massive expansion of the Portuguese slave trade. Portugal would not have control of the interior until the 20th century.

Today, she is remembered in Angola for her political and diplomatic acumen, great wit and intelligence, as well as her brilliant military tactics. In time, Portugal and most of Europe would come to respect her. A major street in Luanda is named after her, and a statue of her was placed in Kinaxixi on an impressive square. Angolan women are often married near the statue, especially on Thursdays and Fridays. (TAAG Austral Magazine, Wikipedia)