Sunday, September 12, 2010

Profile of a 'Soba'

In all of Angola's provinces, the title “Soba” is given to the traditional community leaders to provide local guidance and leadership in solving social and physical community matters.

Sebastião Manuel Napoleão is the “Soba Grande” of the Ilha do Cabo in Luanda, the Big Soba, meaning he is the top man of his neighborhood. At 88 years of age, Grande Soba Napoleão is one of the most recognised faces in Ilha and earns the community respect with 24 children, 71 grandchildren, 21 great grandchildren and three great great grandchildren.
Previously, Sobas were chosed through traditional order of ancestry.  In these modern times, an open-air community meeting creates a shortlist of their desired leaders to have the final choice of the Grand Soba being made by the government.
The Grande Soba describes his job: "Some people see me as a traditional doctor, so people come here to seek cures. Sometimes the police send people here. Just say there is a fight between two people. They say that the first port of call is always the Soba. There are many incidents that the police will not deal with. For this there is the Soba. At the Soba’s place, everything can be sorted out. I give advice to young girls who get pregnant and have problems with their parents. I go and speak to the parents. The people always accept what the Soba says. If I am reprimanding some young men, I have to say things in a way that they get afraid."  (Sonangol Universo Magazine 2009)

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