Saturday, November 28, 2009

Rising of the Angolan Church - Video

The story of how the Angolan Church has endured and grown through many years of a brutal civil war is amazing! Check out this video below made by SIM (another mission agency working in Angola) which outlines how the evangelical church in Angola has persevered and is once again growing in this new age of transition. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

African Folklore: How the Cheetach Got His Speed

African cultures have a plethora of folklore handed down from generation to generation.  Their folklore stories are very interesting and amusing as they seek to interpret about their history, the principles of life, and the traits of African animals through their own cultural world view.  I will share a few of these amusing folklore stories here.  Enjoy!

How the Cheetah Got His Speed  (A Bushman story)

Once upon a time the Creator decided to find out which of His animals could run the fastest and so He entered the cheetah in a race with the tsessebe, which is one of the swiftest of all the antelopes.  The cheetah had soft paws then, and he realized that they were not suited for real speed. So he borrowed a set of paws from an obliging wild dog.

The race started from a high baobab tree. The Creator Himself was in charge and the two contestents were told to run right across the plains to a hill on the far side. The animals lined up and then - go!  They leapt away.

The tsessebe soon took the lead and by halfway, he was so far ahead that he seemed sure to win. But suddenly, disaster! Tsessebe stumbled on a stone, and crashed to the ground; he had a broken leg.

The good natured cheetah, instead of running past and winning the race, stopped to help his opponent.

The Creator, seeing this, was so pleased by the cheetach's unselfish act that He bestowed upon the cheetah a gift; He made him the fastest animal in the land and what's more, allowed him to keep the paws of the wild dog.

From: When the Hippo was Hairy and Other tales from Africa;  Nick Greaves.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Angola 'Did You Know?'

Did you know that in another 55 days, Angola will host the African continent's premier sporting event?   Angola will host the African Cup of Nations soccer tournament, the football championship of Africa and one of the qualifying events for next year's World Cup Soccer tournament in South Africa.

The timing of Angola's hosting of this event is quite fortunate yet ironic for the country, since it is coming out of a long civil war.  With much of the country infrastructure either deteriorating or destroyed from the war, the push to improve the road, utility and building infrastructure in preparation for the games will provide a quick jumpstart for improvement. 

Over 600 million dollars will be spent on the building of four brand new stadiums in the four largest city.  The world-class quality stadiums are being built by Chinese construction companies and are quite a contrast to the surrounding mud-brick homes in the neighborhoods.

What impact will this event have on the country and people of Angola?   Firstly, it will be a great boon to put Angola on the map in Africa and expose to all the emergence of the country after war.   Secondly, the influx of tourist dollars will greatly add to the economy and the pockets of normal Angolans who become entrepreneurial sellers of tourist goods.   Lastly, in contrast, the exposure will highlight the great wealth disparity of the population.  It is estimated that probably only 10% of Angolans will be able to afford a ticket to any one of the tournament matches!    Hopely, the economic plight of the local churches will be hightlighted as well and be a point of concern for the Christian groups that will be attending the tournament's events.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Chinatown Africa

Angola's rapid reconstruction after 30 years of civil war is literally changing the face of the nation.  Evidence of this is the current presence of over 50,000 Chinese workers in the country.

China has been one of the main financiers of oil-rich Angola's rapid development since the end of the civil war ended in 2002 and  in exchange for loans and aid, estimated to total more than US$4 billion since 2004, China has been guaranteed a generous chunk of Angola's future petroleum production.  The accords also stipulate that 70 percent of the country's development projects be given to Chinese companies, which prefer to import their own workers. 

It is interesting now to see the contrast  and clash of Asian cultures with the harshness of Africa.  Current news in Angola highlights how Angolan gangs are now targeting Chinese workers with 'mafia-style' tactics.  This seems to be an Angolan opportunity to steal from the easy prey of the rich Chinese and as well a backlash against the perception of the Chinese infiltration of the Angolan economy and jobs markets. In Angola, Chinese street sellers are fast putting out of business thousands of locals and Malian sellers who have been there for generations. The fact that many Chinese tend to live in isolation with little or no contact with the local population further aggravates the resentment already present.

Check out this link to a documentary which exposes the influx and influence of China upon the Angolan nation .  "Chinatown Africa"

Friday, November 13, 2009

Angolan Food. Yum!

One question too that I am asked a lot from my previous experience in Angola is, "What do you eat in Angola?"  This is an important question, since the palatability of the food in a different culture really affects the longevity and enjoyment of serving in that culture.  I believe that a country's food also tells a lot about their culture and their history and eating it helps you to identify with the people better.  One elderly wise African would repeatedly tell me to: "Continually eat more of our food and you will speak our language better!"

Now since the war has ceased there in Angola, foreign food imports have begun trickling in, allowing one to purchase now some normal 'western-type' food such as Kelloggs Corn Flakes.  So a expatriate living in an urban center could purchase foodstuffs now that very much like what is available in North America.

But the Angolan food that is distinct and interesting is what I want to cover here.

Funge: This is the staple of the Angolan diet and it can be made with corn meal (funge) or with yucca/manioc flour (bombĂ´).  Some say that this food is like polenta or very thick grits, but realistically, no. The texture of funge is very sticky and neither version really has any flavor, so I find that it is best eaten with the gravy or beans that come with your meal.  I actually don't mind eating this.

Rice and Beans:  This an easily prepared and regular staple for Angolans, and the low cost and starchiness of the rice provides a cheap, stomach-filling meal.  Most of the beans are grown locally, but all the rice is imported since it is not grown in the country.

Frango (Chicken) or Cabrito (Goat):  It seems that since Angolans always have chickens or goats running around their properties that they eat it regularly. In reality, because of their price, these animals are generally saved to be served for special occasions.  On various occasions while on visits to very rural areas, I learned that our hosts slaughtered their only chicken or goat in order to prepare a meal for us.  It humbled me to realize the sacrifice that they made.  Though  both chickens and goats are essentially free-range, very often the meat is very tough or rubbery.  The both meats are often served with a bean sauce which makes it very tasty.  

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

CEML Hospital - A Closer Look

Allow us to share briefly about CEML (Centro Evangelico de Medicina Do Lubango) Hospital, the place of our new ministry assignment in Angola.

Opening in 2006 in Lubango, the largest city in the southern region of Angola, CEML's immediate catchment population is over 2.5 million people, 50% of whom do not have access to basic healthcare.

The hospital infrastructure consists of 53 bed acute-care facility with a 24 hour emergency ward, full hematology laboratory, digital x-ray facilities and two Operating Room theaters.  A subsequent expansion phase is planned to create a full service 130 bed hospital with the implementation of 2 ICU units with renal dialysis and CT scanners; essentially being the only functioning units within a 900 km radius.

CEML's strategy is to 'meet the great medical needs in the region and be a platform for spiritual outreach'.  With the southwest region of Angola being the locale of the most largely unreached people groups (not having any previous contact or access to the Gospel) in the country, CEML's medical outreach is aimed at reaching these peoples and bring Physical Health and Spiritual Hope through Christ.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Peace After War - Video

Have a look at this video from SIM (another mission agency serving in Angola) which describes the transition the country and the church is going through from war to hope. Enjoy!