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

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. 

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)