Friday, January 22, 2010

Angola's Statues and Memorials

Angola has numerous statues and memorials signifying various religious or historical significances.  I will cover a few of the most significant and popular ones here.

Probably the most recognizable is the Cristo Rey (Christ the King) statue overlooking the southern city of Lubango.  This 30 m large, white marble statue of Jesus built in 1945 is only one of three in the world and is a replica of the one found in Rio de Janeiro. 

(When I lived in Lubango during the '90s, I used to look out my kitchen window every morning to see this beautiful statue on the hill over Lubango.)

Still in Lubango is the monument Nossa Senhora do Monte.  This religious site (Catholic) consists of a slender white concrete tower and a series of smaller white pillars whose frame enclose an altar and a tall cross.  At the back of the alter, up some steep steps is a tall, simple chapel, built in 1919, that is annual place of pilgrimage and renewal for Catholics each year.

In Luanda, the tall Mausoleum of Agostinho Neto towers unfinished over southern part of the city. Neto was Angola’s first president, leading the country from 1975 until his death in 1979. Mr. Neto was originally embalmed, in the style of many communist leaders such as Lenin and Stalin, but was apparently later cremated and transferred to the unlit depths of his mausoleum.

Next is the Momument to the Battle Kifangondo.  The battle of Kifangondo  was fought between the anti-communist FNLA, with the help of the Zairian army, Portuguese soldiers and South African Defense Force artillery and air, and the MPLA on November 10th, 1975. The Angolan forces were supported by the Zairian army, Portuguese-Angolan soldiers and South African Defense Force artillery on the FNLA side, and Cuban Special Forces on the MPLA side. The attack, launched by FNLA leader Holden Roberto, was designed to occupy Angola's capital, Luanda, less than a day before the declaration of Angolan independence and relinquishment of control of the capital by the Portuguese.  As his troops crossed, they encountered heavy rocket fire from the Cubans, who ultimately pinned the FNLA between the coast and river's lagoon, decimating them. The South African gunners, outranged by the Cuban rockets, were powerless to help. They ultimately withdrew to a South African frigate, ending SADF involvement in the Angolan conflict.

The explorer Paulo Dias de Novais (1510–1589) founded Luanda in 1575 as "São Paulo de Loanda," with 100 families of settlers and 400 soldiers. The São Miguel Fort built in 1576 by the Portuguese to serve as protectorate and as the administrative centre of the colony.  This old fortress of São Miguel overlooks Luanda Island beyond the port and was a major outlet for slave traffic to Brazil. Luanda was Portuguese Angola's administrative center from 1627, except for the period from 1640 to 1648, when the Dutch ruled Luanda as Fort Aardenburgh.

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