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February 26 2014

Digital Surveillance in Angola and Other “Less Important” African Countries

A recent report from the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab traces the use of surveillance malware developed by the Italian company Hacking Team and deployed in Ethiopia, Morocco, Nigeria, Sudan and Somalia. Last year, a German-English company's malware was detected in South Africa and Nigeria. These findings have generated new interest in the issue in sub-saharan Africa.

Detection of malware and other “cheap” surveillance technologies — relatively affordable “off-the-shelf” products made by private companies — in Africa's largest countries seems to be of ongoing interest to researchers. But what about the countries which through a western lens are seen as “less important”, either for their population, language or geopolitical sway?

Angola is an interesting case: The oil-rich nation has a relatively small population and a powerful ruling party that has been in control for 33 years. Investigative journalists, youth protesters, and social mobilizations – mostly around issues like housing and political corruption – seem to irk the regime, but the broader impact of these activities can be hard to track.

Last December, security researcher Jacob Applebaum spoke at the Chaos Communication Congress about Angolan investigative journalist Rafael Marques and his laptop. Marques, a widely acclaimed journalist known for his investigations of abuses of power at the highest level, approached Applebaum with an all too common query: “there seems to be something wrong with my laptop, it's running slow.” Applebaum found what he described as the “lamest backdoor” he'd ever seen, a spyware program that was surreptitiously taking screenshots of Marques’ activities and attempting to send them to another machine.

In the video below, Appelbaum shows Marques how even though he used TOR to protect himself, his machine had been compromised by a very crude form of spyware:

Marques, who edits the independent website Maka Angola was arrested and beaten months after discovering his laptop had been compromised. He is currently facing civil suits in both Angola and Portugal for his research which includes unmasking an international money laundering scheme for diamonds mined in Angola’s troubled Lunda region.

Applebaum suggests that even the least tech-savvy regimes can find new ways of exerting control using simple digital surveillance products and techniques. Yet there is little public discussion about data security, surveillance and the law in Angola.

One reason may be that real-world, physical surveillance and infiltration – with some of the  intelligence agents trained in the ex-Soviet Bloc – is so pervasive that activists and journalists do not feel any particular urgency about protecting their online activities.

Marques is now actively tracking the issue of surveillance in Angola. In October he described proposed legislation that would allow the state vast powers for warrantless search and prohibit certain forms of online communication. These provisions, he noted, were added to a 2010 draft Internet Governance bill released shortly after popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.

Although these forms of surveillance are relatively new, threats to press freedom are hardly new in Angola. Local independent newspapers and news outlets, have been criminalized or had their ability to expand restricted by onerous, seemingly politically motivated licensing requirements. Marques himself often lives and works in other countries. He is currently facing a defamation suit in Portugal, filed by Angolan members of the regime [pt].

Much like in Ethiopia, many Angolan activists and independent media workers are closely linked to the country's diaspora. An Ethiopian journalist residing in Washington, DC recently filed a legal challenge against the Ethiopian government over surveillance via malware on his computers. This development, at the very least, should help to raise awareness among Ethiopian exiles and activists. The case, which has been filed in the US, will hinge on careful research and tracing of malware.

For individuals like Marques in countries around the world, the Ethiopian case may suggest an interesting, international way of reversing a power imbalance — a way of striking back against threats to open investigation and expression. What remains to be seen in “less important” countries like Angola is whether civil society activists, researchers, and lawyers can find the resources and rally together internationally to trace and challenge increasing digital surveillance.

February 19 2014

10 New Documentaries at the Luxor African Film Festival

Tom Devriendt lists 10 documentaries to look out for at the Luxor African Film Festival:

The third edition of the Egyptian Luxor African Film Festival again has a wide-ranging programme scheduled for next month. Selected films will be showing in different competitions: Long Narrative, Short Narratives, Short Documentaries and Long Documentary. Below you’ll find a couple of the selected documentaries’ trailers (set in Togo, Senegal, Ghana, Somalia, South Africa, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt and Angola) that were recently uploaded to YouTube and Vimeo, plus links to the films’ websites — where available.

February 10 2014

INFOGRAPHIC: Pursuit of Happiness in Africa

Happiness Value Index for the African Continent via Afrigraphique CC-NC-2.0

Happiness Value Index for the African Continent via Afrigraphique CC-NC-2.0


The Afrographique blog mapped the happiness index for the African continent. Topping the ranking are Angola and Mauritius who hold the same happiness index as Albania and Russia, respectively. In related news, the Pharell’ single “Happy” has been used by dancers around the world to celebrate the new year 2014. All the videos are compiled at the blog We are Happy from . Below are the videos from Antanannarivo, Madagascar:

and Cotonou, Benin:

February 07 2014

Asking After Prisoners’ Screams Lands Angolan Journalist in Jail

A journalist passes by a police station in a town of the outskirts of Luanda, the capital of Angola, and hears prisoners screaming. He enters the police station to ask what is happening. He is arrested on accusations of slander and defamation.

Chilúvia

Photo of Chilúvia shared by @ProfNgolaKiluan on Twitter.

That is what happened to Queirós Anastácio Chilúvia, deputy editor of the private station Radio Despertar, at Cacuaco's National Command Post last Sunday, February 2, 2014, according to anti-corruption watchdog Maka Angola and Alexandre Neto, chairman of the Angolan chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA). The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reported:

“To arrest a journalist for asking police for their side of the story is absurd,” said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Sue Valentine. “Queirós Anastácio Chilúvia is no risk to society. Authorities should release him immediately.”

According to Neto “the maximum period that police may detain someone without bringing evidence is eight days”. Radio France Internationale reported that Chilúvia is going to be judged on Friday, February 7.

Meanwhile, a few Twitter users are pressuring for his release. A user who goes by the handle Professor N'gola Kiluange called for international solidarity:

February 05 2014

Fighting the Poor Instead of Poverty in Angola

In a move aimed primarily at improving the image of Luanda, Angola's capital and largest city, the government of this Southern African country announced a controversial measure: from now on, it would be illegal to engage in street trading in Luanda. Buyers as well as sellers would be fined.

Street sellers have been a way of life in Luanda since colonial times [pt], and there are several songs from well-known national musicians that celebrate this particular part of the culture. These men and women sell just about anything and everything on the streets.

Angola is currently one of Africa's strongest economies and is enjoying new-found wealth coming primarily from its oil industry. However, the wealth does not trickle down to the great majority of Angolans, and the country has maintained one of the worst social inequality levels in the world.

“Fruits vendor on a street near the Alvalade Hotel (Average price per room per night 450 US dollars). You can't find a decent hotel room in Luanda for less than 400 US dollars/night. A basic lunch in a decent restaurant (Just one course meal and a bottle of still water) will cost you about 75. The poor are finding harder and harder to manage to survive here.” Photo and caption by Ionut Sendroiu copyright Demotix (8 October 2010)

The Governor of Luanda Fights Street Vendors” [pt] was the title of one of the most liked and shared posts last week by Mana Mingota (Sister Mingota, in English), one of Angola's most popular Facebook pages. A fictitious character, almost no one knows who is behind it. Yet the page, which posts advice, humor, and commentary about a diverse range of subjects that appeal to the country's younger, Internet-active generation, has nearly 76,500 fans – more than most well-known brands and celebrities in Angola.

The post reads:

Tantos problemas para combater, água, luz, saneamento básico, emprego para os jovens, falta de casa, comida cara, prostituição legalizada, venda de bebidas a menores de idade, consumo exagerado de álcool pela população, acidentes de viação, falsificação de documentos, burocracia na emissão de documentos, propinas elevadas das universidades privadas, gasosas nos polícias, corrupção nas escolas, mau atendimento das repartições públicas, ene problemas, e a sua excelência senhor governador está com todas flechas apontadas para as zungueiras que com sacrifício tentam ganhar a vida para alimentar famílias e colocar os filhos na escola para não virarem delinquentes. Sinceramente muitos aqui pensam ao contrário!!!

So many problems to resolve – water, electricity, basic sanitation, employment for the youth, lack of housing, expensive food, legalized prostitution, the sale of alcohol to underage kids, an exaggerated consumption of alcohol in our society, motor vehicle accidents, document falsification, bureaucracy in the emission of new documents, high cost of education in private universities, police corruption, corruption in schools, horrible public service, so many problems and his Excellency the governor has all guns pointed at the street vendors who make many sacrifices and are just trying to earn some money so that they can feed their families and put their kids through school so that they don't turn into criminals. Seriously, a lot of people here think backwards!!!

The banning of street traders – or zungueiras, as they are locally known – appears to be part of a larger effort to hide Luanda's poor and dump them in the city's outskirts. Out of sight and out of mind, if you will. Besides zungueiras, inhabitants of Luanda's sizeable slums are also frequently awakened by the sound of bulldozers razing their homes to the grounds without prior warning, and then they are taken on buses to land without basic livable conditions.

“For most of the inhabitants, the skyscrapers of Luanda mean nothing but a background.” Photo and caption by Ionut Sendroiu copyright Demotix (8 October 2010)

Due to a variety of factors including a prolonged civil war and notoriously low investment in education, the majority of Angola's workforce is unskilled and over a quarter are unemployed.

According to the recently released “Bertelsmann Stiftung, BTI 2014 Angola Country Report“ [pdf], which covers transformation towards democracy and market economy in 129 countries:

[...] the population in [Angola's] cities often depends on informal commerce to make ends meet. This is especially the case in the capital Luanda, where an estimated one-third of the population lives, and which is alone responsible for 75% of GDP production.

Zungueiras. Photo shared by the blog O Patifúndio under a Creative Commons license (BY-NC-ND)

Zungueiras. Photo shared by the blog O Patifúndio under a Creative Commons license (BY-NC-ND)

The same report states that 70 percent of the informal workforce is made up of women. Invariably, the government's latest policy will adversely impact women, who are the most vulnerable in these sorts of cases. And it didn't take long. The anti-corruption watchdog Maka Angola recently reported that nearly 50 women, children and men were detained, some for three days, in the same cell in a Luanda police station for being caught selling goods on the street.

But this is nothing new. As Louise Redvers states in an article published last week examining this same issue on the website of Open Society Initiative for South Africa:

[...] worse still, these women are regularly abused by exploitative police officers and government inspection teams, who beat them, steal or damage their goods and subject them to bribes. You can read more about the scale of this horrific abuse – and the seeming impunity of the officials involved – in this damning Human Rights Watch report released last September.

Popular reaction to the government's latest measure has been one of incredulity mixed with widespread condemnation, but it's important to note that not everyone thinks this way. Many have applauded the government's decision, saying that street selling was getting out of hand and that it was detrimental to the city's image. And I've seen how zungueiras can turn any empty patch of concrete or asphalt into an unsanitary open-air market.

But as Angolan rapper MCK sings:

em vez de combater a pobreza estão a combater os pobres.

Instead of fighting poverty they are fighting the poor.

Street selling is not the problem – rather, it is the effect of a much larger issue, which is the government's inability to address the massive gap between the haves and the have-nots. It is the government's inability to address poverty despite the huge oil riches that the wealthiest Angolans are enjoying. And it is their mistaken belief that the way to deal with poverty is by hiding it.

“Commercial street in Luanda.” Photo by Ionut Sendroiu copyright Demotix (31 October 2010)

A quote in Louise Redvers’ piece cited above is particularly eye opening:

I remember very clearly one very well-dressed and expensively US-educated Angolan oil worker telling me: “We can’t have these people on our streets anymore, not in the city centre next to places like Sonangol. We need to improve our image, we are a modern country, these people can’t be here like this.”

Angola is a country where the National Registry is closed for four days because there's no “system” (read: intranet). Where a routine Western Union or Moneygram transfer can take several trips and several hours. Where there is no reliable water or electricity distribution. Where the government is incapable of providing even the most basic services to its population. Where the government spends only a small fraction of its budget on health and education, amongst the lowest figures in Africa. Where corruption is a way of life and where the government has forgotten its promise from independence that the most important thing to do was to resolve the people's problems.

The zungueiras and the country's poorest will continue to bear the brunt of this image-conscious makeover until more serious policies aimed at reducing poverty and giving the poor another option to sustain themselves are enacted.

Also read Clara Onofre's post on Global Voices (2008): Angola: Hawkers face a hard life with dignity and courage

January 25 2014

Bloggers from Angola and Mozambique Release Hip-Hop Mix Tape

[The full version of this interview was originally published on 9 January 2014 on the contemporary African cultures website Buala.]

“Submundo Luso vs 12transfusons” is a new mix tape that features rappers from Angola, Mozambique, Brazil and Portugal. Released on New Year’s Eve after five months of preparation, the project brought together hip-hop promoters from the blogs Submundo Luso [pt] in Mozambique and 12transfusons [pt] in Angola. The two met online and the former invited the latter to collaborate.

In this interview for the blog Underground Lusófono [pt], Astérix o Néfilim (Astérix the Giant, in English), a rapper, producer and manager at 12transfusons, talks about the effort, which counted the participation of artists from all over the globe and is now available as a free download. He also shares his views on the artistic scene in Cabinda – a tiny province in the north of Angola – and the challenges caused by such isolation.

Underground Lusófono (UL): How did you get this project up and running?

A Mixtape Submundo Luso vs 12transfusons está disponível para Download Gratuito nos blogues Submundo Luso e 12transfusons.

The Submundo Luso vs 12transfusons Mixtape is available for Free Downloadon on the blogs Submundo Luso and 12transfusons.

Astérix o Néfilim (AN): Passou por selecionarmos os artistas de acordo os objectivos. Neste projecto procuramos trazer as raízes de hip-hop e procuramos fazer algo um pouco fora do normal, é como um “back in the days”. Normalmente os promotores trabalham com artistas de renome e nós procuramos juntar um pouco de tudo, desde a velha à nova escola, e tentamos dar primazia também ao rap feminino, artistas no anonimato e os que já estão na ribalta do hip-hop lusófono.

Astérix o Néfilim (AN): It came about by choosing artists that suited our aims. We wanted to bring back the roots of hip-hop and to do something a little bit different, a bit “old school”. Normally promoters work with renowned artists, but we wanted to bring together a little bit of everything, from the old school to the new. We also tried to give priority to female rappers and unknown artists, alongside those who have already made a name for themselves in Portuguese-language rap.

UL: How did you choose the artists?

AN: Mediante sugestão de todo elenco da 12transfusons e Submundo Luso. Trabalhamos juntos nisso, tínhamos uma lista de artistas, contactámo-los directamente embora não tenhamos propriamente todos os artistas que pretendíamos.

AN: That came after hearing the suggestions of everyone involved at 12transfusons and Submundo Luso. We worked together on this, we had a list of artists, we contacted them directly, although we didn’t get all of the artists we wanted.

UL: What level of interest was there from artists in the prospect of working with you?

AN: Em 2011 lançámos a Mixtape 12transfusons Ed. 2011 com o mesmo propósito, e já tínhamos trabalhado com alguns, é o caso do AKAM-M, MAC D –O- MURMURYO e o ALKAPPA (que foi convidado também a participar mas não pôde).

Devo dizer que não tem sido nada fácil trabalhar com mc's, é uma luta constante. Há quem ignore simplesmente porque não acredita no nosso trabalho, há quem ainda subestime e pense que não cairia bem na sua imagem, outros aceitam participar teoricamente mas, no fim, acabam desistindo. Há ainda aqueles que fazem jus à definição de RAF-TAG “Hip-hopcritas” porque nas letras dizem ser verdadeiros, juram humildade, lealdade, que fazem o rap por amor à cultura e que dão tudo pelo rap (estes são os mais arrogantes) mas não aceitam.

Nós somos produtoras independentes, tudo que temos feito até hoje é fruto dos nossos bolsos, sem apoio nenhum. Apesar de tudo devo reconhecer o esforço, o tempo, dedicação, disponibilidade e empenho de alguns artistas, em especial Khris Mc, IKONOKLASTA, AKAM-47 da Poltersonnik, REDGOVEM, KARDINAL MC, Mona Dya Kidi e muito mais, ao pessoal da 12transfusons com destaque para Absinto e Tecla 6/4, ao pessoal de Moçambique, Brasil e Portugal.

AN: In 2011, we released “Mixtape 12transfusons Ed. 2011″ with the same aim, and we had already worked with a few of the artists. This was the case with AKAM-M, MAC D O MURMURYO and ALKAPPA (who was invited to take part but couldn’t).

I’ve got to say that it hasn’t been easy working with MCs, and it’s a constant battle. There are ones that took no notice because they didn’t believe in our work. There are ones that underestimated us and thought what we were doing wouldn’t go mesh well with their image. Others agreed to take part but ended up dropping out. Then there ones that prove RAF-TAG’s “Hip-hopcrites” idea right – the ones that say in their lyrics they are keeping it real, and swear that they are loyal, that they make rap music out of love for the culture and that they do everything for rap (these are the most arrogant ones), but they don’t want to take part.

We are independent producers. Everything that we’ve done up till now we’ve paid for without any help. Despite that, I want to make a shout-out for the effort, time, dedication and hard work of some artists like Khris Mc, IKONOKLASTA, AKAM-47 from Poltersonnik, REDGOVEM, KARDINAL MC Mona Dya Kidi and many other. Also to the staff at 12transfusons with a special shout-out to Absinto and Tecla 6/4 and everyone in Mozambique, Brazil and Portugal.

A mixtape Submundo Luso vs 12transfusons foi lançada em primeira mão nos blogues 12tonline.blogspot.com e Submundoluso.blogspot.com, e demais blogues de hip-hop. O projecto não dispõe de qualquer fim lucrativo e é totalmente GRATUITO.

The Submundo Luso vs 12transfusons mixtape was launched on 12tonline.blogspot.com, Submundoluso.blogspot.com, and other hip-hop blogs. The album is not-for-profit and available completely free of charge.

UL: What has the public reaction been like?

AN: Olha, o feedback está sendo melhor do que eu pessoalmente esperava, todos os dias recebo elogios, palavras de encorajamento e felicitações pelo trabalho bem feito. E este é sem dúvida o nosso maior reembolso pela inteira dedicação neste trabalho.

AN: Listen, the response we’ve had has been better than I was personally hoping for. Every day I get compliments, words of encouragement, and congratulations on a job well done. And this, without doubt, is the greatest reward for all our dedication.

UL: How long has 12transfusons been on the market?

AN: A 12transfusons é uma produtora independente que actua no mercado de Cabinda desde 2010, tem vindo a colocar no mercado diversas obras discográficas, realizado diversos shows e demais actividades em prol do hip-hop. É composto por: Astérix o Néfilim (C.E.O), Tecla 6/4(produtor), Sacerdote, Rezo-Luto, 02K63, Absinto (designer) e Akônituz e Vars (Produtor) sendo que estes últimos representam os interesses da produtora na capital. O Absinto e Akônituz formam o grupo Artigo 9.0, e todos juntos representamos o colectivo denominado LETAL.

AN: 12transfusons is an independent production company and has been around in Cabinda since 2010. It has put out various albums, put on various shows and other activities to do with hip-hop. In the group are Astérix the Giant (CEO), Tecla 6/4 (producer), Sacerdote, Rezo-Luto, 02K63, Absinto (designer) and Akônituz e Vars (producer). These last guys are the ones that represent production in the capital. Absinto and Akônituz were part of the group Artigo 9.0 and together we are the collective LETAL.

UL: How do you view music – in particular rap music – in Cabinda?

AN: Seria falso se dissesse que estamos bem porque estamos mesmo mal, ainda há muito a fazer para que o pessoal aceite de bom grado a nossa cultura e tente desviar as atenções para o nosso lado.

Em Cabinda não é só o rap que está em péssimas condições, reflecte-se em todos os estilos musicais, desde o kuduro, kizomba, semba, kintueni e mayeye. Na verdade há pouca divulgação da música feita em Cabinda, temos uma secretaria provincial da cultura fictícia e comunicação social inexistente. Nada justifica que, numa província com artistas de talento, saiam dois álbuns num ano e que as poucas rádios que temos se recusem a apoiar iniciativas como as nossas e demais personalidades interessadas.

Voltando para o rap, este é o menos solicitado nas atividades e comícios governamentais mas é o que mais dá voz em termos de presença musical graças ao esforço de todos os companheiros de luta como: Cabmusic, hip-hop de gavetas, agora a Miller Team e não só. A cada dia que passa surgem novas propostas, novos mc´s e produtoras interessados em dar mais vida ao movimento. Fico feliz com isto.

AN: I would be lying if I said that things are good because they really aren’t and there is still a lot of work to do so that people accept our culture and pay it more attention.

In Cabinda, it’s not only rap that’s finding it tough. The situation is reflected in all musical styles, everything from kuduro, kizomba and samba to kintueni and mayeye. The truth is that the music being made in Cambinda doesn’t get promoted. We have a completely non-existent culture secretary with next to no social communication. Nothing justifies the fact that in a province with so many talented artists only two albums a year get released and there are only a few radio stations that support projects like ours.

Returning to rap, this is the least requested for governmental events and rallies, even though it is what represents people the most. This is thanks to the efforts of all of the comrades in arms such as Cabmusic and Miller Team, among others. Each day that goes by there are new ideas coming up, new MCs and producers interested in giving the movement more life. This makes me very happy.

UL: In your opinion, what needs to be done to change the situation in Cabinda?

AN: Em primeiro lugar valorizando a nossa música. É preciso acostumar as pessoas a ouvirem as nossas músicas, o povo de Cabinda é conhecido como “fidalgo” que não gosta de comparecer nos shows, nem comprar CDs. Nós temos de incentiva-los a irem aos nossos concertos, a comprarem os nossos CDs e não devemos actuar isoladamente.

A Secretaria Provincial da Cultura também deve desempenhar este papel com a comunicação social, neste caso as rádios e TVs (embora Cabinda não tenha nenhuma estação televisiva pública nem privada) de modo a tentar reverter esse quadro, talvez criar programas que ajudassem a promover a música local, apoio aos músicos, deixar de convidar os músicos apenas em campanhas partidárias e actividades governamentais, e que o caché dos músicos locais seja igual ao dos músicos que vêm de Luanda ou de outro ponto do mundo, para que estes se sintam valorizados. Um canal televisivo local ajudaria na promoção da imagem dos artistas no seio do enclave e não só. Na verdade Cabinda carece de rádios e televisões privadas que diversifiquem a rotina das informações. Enquanto isso não acontece continuamos aqui. conhecemos a luta e seguiremos firmes e fortes.

AN: Firstly, valuing our music. It’s important to get people used to hearing our music. The people of Cabinda are known as “prudes” and for not going to shows or buying albums. We have to encourage them to go to our concerts and to buy our CDs. But we can’t act alone.

The culture secretary for this province needs to play this role through social communication, in this case radio stations and TV channels – even though Cabinda doesn’t have any television stations, neither public nor private – in an attempt to reverse the situation. Perhaps create programs that help promote local music, support for musicians, stop inviting musicians only for political campaigns and governmental events. The fee for local musicians should be the same as for musicians that come from Luanda or from any other part of the world so that they feel valued. A local television station would help promote the image of local artists. The truth is, Cabinda lacks private radio and television stations that can mix things up and break the routine of local news. While this isn’t happening, we will continue here. We know what our battle is and we will continue to stand firm.

UL: What projects are on the cards for this year?

AN: 12transfusons não pára, tenho uma equipe fantástica que gosta de trabalhar e está sempre disposta a sujar as mãos. Depois desta mixtape lançaremos o Ruaportagem do grupo Artigo 9.0, um Ep que temos vindo a trabalhar e que só esse ano finalmente vamos poder metê-lo nas ruas, esperamos que seja bem recebido porque estamos a depositar aqui as nossas energias.

AN: 12transfusons doesn’t stop. I have a fantastic team that loves working and is always willing to get its hands dirty. After this mixtape we’re going to launch Ruaportagem [a play on the words "street" and "report"] from the group Artigo 9.0, which is an EP that we have been working on and only this year finally able to get it out on the streets. We hope people are going to like it because we’re putting a lot of energy into it.

UL: What is “Ruaportagem”?

AN: É uma abordagem das ruas, os problemas da população, o modo de vida dos cidadãos, as diferentes maneiras de encarar e sobreviver, os sacrifícios do dia-dia, é um olho das câmara nas ruas de Luanda, e toda a sociedade envolvente.

AN: It’s a way of looking at how thing are on the street, the problems people have, the different ways of surviving, and the daily sacrifices people make.

January 14 2014

How Online Platforms Are Working to Save Angola's Languages

[All links lead to Portuguese-language webpages unless otherwise noted.]

“On average, a language disappears every two weeks, and Africa is the continent most at risk”, wrote the author José Eduardo Agualusa in a 2011 article on the evolution of languages in Angola. However, during the past year a number of online platforms have been created with the aim of protecting Angola's national languages. 

Angola is a plurilingual country [en], with six African languages recognised as national languages as well as Portuguese as the official language. Besides this, it is estimated that there are 37 languages and 50 dialects in use in the country. At the end of October 2013, the blog Círculo Angolano Intelectual (Angolan Intellectual Circle) reported that 30 percent of the Angolan population (almost 8.5 million Angolans) “only speak national languages which are not featured in any educational or social program”, adding that:

isto é mais um dos factores que gera exclusão social.

this is another of the factors that provoke social exclusion.

In an article [pdf] by Agualusa, published by Casa das Áfricas, a Cultural Institute for Training and Study on African Societies in São Paulo, the prizewinning author considers a “proposal for peace” for the coexistence of the national languages with the Portuguese language (“mother tongue versus stepmother tongue”) and poses the question:

Porquê que é que em Angola, país de muitas línguas, os escritores apenas utilizam o português?

Why is it that in Angola, a country of many languages, writers only use Portuguese?

In an attempt to counter the phenomenon, various online initiatives were created during 2013 by young people who view the new technologies as a tool for the promotion and protection of national languages.

 5 formas de fazer perguntas em Kimbundo

Five ways to ask questions in Kimbundo, courtesy the Evalina Facebook page. 

One project, still in its initial phase, which aims to promote learning of the Angolan national languages in an innovative way, free of charge and accessible to everyone with access to the Internet, is Evalina

Created in May 2013 by Joel Epalanga, an IT project manager in the telecommunications sector, the primary motive for the creation of the platform was the observation that there is a gap faced by many young people with regard to the national languages. The proposal was explained in an interview in the magazine Jovens da Banda:

[para que] os jovens, que hoje em dia gastam boa parte do seu tempo livre na internet, pudessem dedicar algumas horas para aprender um pouco a (sua) língua nacional de preferência.

[so that] young people, who these days spend a large part of their free time on the Internet, could dedicate a few hours to learning a little of (their) preferred national language.

Evalina consists of a Facebook page where content such as incentives to learn and lessons on national languages are shared. At the date of publication of this article, the page featured lessons on Umbundu [en], the second most-spoken language after Portuguese, and on Kimbundo [en].

In February 2013, a platform for Angolan slang, Kallun [pt], already warranted a note on Global Voices. The project aims to “create a space where [Angola's] slang and colloquial language is explained so that everyone can understand it”, and uses social networks to promote sharing and learning in an informal manner.

Another project which stands out is the Ngola Yetu Dictionary, a dictionary and online translator for Angolan national languages “developed with the goal of reinforcing Angolan culture and increasing its use among young people”. With a simple and intuitive design not unlike Google, it works as a search engine between the Kilongo, Kimbundo, Umbundo and Portuguese languages. The project has used Facebook and Twitter to interact with web users. 

For the preservation of mother tongues

The importance of the inclusion of national languages in teaching is recognised by institutions and academics alike. In the middle of June 2013, the Angolan portal Mwelo Weto published an interview with Daniel Peres Sasuku, an Angolan linguist and lecturer in the Faculty of Arts of the Agostinho Neto University, who advocates for the prioritisation of national languages in teaching:

Pensamos, de igual modo que a implementação dessas línguas no ensino é uma forma mais concreta de seu resgate e preservação enquanto patrimônio cultural dos angolanos  

We think, equally, that the inclusion of these languages in teaching is a more concrete means of rescuing and preserving them as part of the cultural heritage of the Angolan people.

The Regional Forum for University Development (FORDU) also supports the idea that national languages should be a compulsory discipline in schools. Of the recommendations which were made following a debate organised by FORDU last April, 2013, under the theme “the national languages as true identity heritage of the Angolan people”, the following stands out:

Angola continua uma sociedade plural do ponto de vista das línguas, tradições, cultura (diversidade cultural) tal situação faz de Angola um País rico em cultura, mas precisa política séria de promover as Línguas todas e dar maior grandeza nas Línguas Nacionais, principalmente as mais faladas como Umbundo.

Angola continues to be a plural society from the point of view of its languages, traditions and culture (cultural diversity). This situation makes Angola a country rich in culture, but serious policies are necessary to promote all languages and give a greater importance to the national languages, above all the most widely spoken such as Umbundo.

Between 2004 and 2010, a trial was carried out to introduce seven national languages in a series of schools in the country. The Ministry of Education declared in September 2013 that it plans to expand the teaching of national languages into all primary schools. A bill on the Statute of National Languages in Angola ”to promote social inclusion and strengthen unity in ethnolinguistic diversity” is in its concluding phase. 

Meanwhile, artists – in this case singers – have also recommended the use of national languages in their songs. 

Do you know of any other online initiatives for the preservation or teaching of Angola's various languages? Leave us a comment! 

November 25 2013

VIDEO: Authorities Destroy Mosques in Angola

The destruction of at least 11 mosques in the last two months in Angola is provoking reactions of outrage online.

According to Voz da América [pt], Angolan authorities state that the reason for the destruction is illegal construction. Other reports add that the process of legalization of Islam and other religions in the country has not been approved by the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, and therefore, according to the news agency of the state AngolaPress, ”their temples will be closed until the new pronunciation in the case”. The Minister of Culture, Rosa Cruz e Silva, said that a law related to liberty of religious assembly should be revised “as a way of fighting ‘vigorously’ the coming up of new religious congregation whose religious assembly are contrary to our habits and customs to Angolan culture.”

The Muslim Community of Angola (CISA) considers that the government is undertaking religious persecution and preventing the realization of religious cults. So is referred in the caption of a video posted on Youtube last September by Coque Manuel which shows a mosque in the city of Moxico being destroyed:

A destruição (…) deve ser imediatamente interrompida e exigimos ao Presidente Angola que peça desculpas aos muçulmanos em todo o mundo. Se não, então gostaríamos de convidar a comunidade Islâmica para realizar manifestações pacíficas em frente dos edifícios das embaixadas angolanas em todo o mundo.

The destruction (…) must be immediately stopped and we demand an apology from the President of Angola to muslims around the world. If not, then we would like to invite the Islam community to protest peacefully in front of the buildings of Angolan embassies around the world.

November 24 2013

“People That Look Like Themselves”: A Comic that Celebrates Natural Black Hair

This article is part of the a series that celebrates Black Awareness Day in Brazil (November 20). Read the first interview: Persistent Stereotypes, Latent Prejudices: Black Characters in Brazilian Comics

A Kindumba da A.N.A. (read as ANA)   ANA- Baptized this way because she was born at the breast of the group Angolanas Naturais e Amigos, a forum (on Facebook) of discussion about naturally curly hair (and not just that). Kindumba- Kimbundo is a term for a hairstyle and/or a kind of hair. I adopted the term after reading the story

Image that explains the origin of the name “A Kindumba da ANA” on her page on Facebook. ANA- Baptized this way because she was born at the breast of the group Angolanas Naturais e Amigos, a forum (on Facebook) of discussion about naturally curly hair (and not just that). Kindumba- Kimbundo is a term for a hairstyle and/or a kind of hair. I adopted the term after reading the story A kindumba da minguinha, by the Angolan writer Arnaldo Santos. Another term that he uses to define hair is Jimbumba! That's how “A Kindumba da ANA” was born. (And Chiquinha, the author, drew some little curly hairs in the word ANA)

[All links lead to Portuguese-language pages except when otherwise noted.]

Francisca Nzenze Meireles, also known as Chiquinha, is the author of “A Kindumba da ANA,” a comic that uses humor to promote the beauty of natural hair and naturally curly hair. She is Angolan and has lived in Brazil for a few years. The name ANA refers to the initials of Angolanas Naturais e Amigos (Natural Angolan Women and Friends), an online forum. The strips can be seen on Chiquinha's page.

Francisca Nzenze Meireles, also known as Chiquinha.

Francisca Nzenze Meireles, also known as Chiquinha: “On the street, I see it emerging bit by bit, another norm of people. People that look like themselves.” Photo used with permission.

During the week in which Brazil celebrates Black Awareness Day [en], learn a little more about this artist, her impressions of working between different cultures, and about the affirmation of one's identity. And, in the spirit of the Portuguese language, take the opportunity to learn a little more about the accent and culture of Angola.

Global Voices (GV): Talk a little bit about the setting of comics in Angola. What have you read and what do you currently read? Which ones do you recommend?

Chiquinha (CH): Eu era leitora assídua de uma tirinhas Angolanas nos anos 90. O MANKIKO, de Sérgio Piçarra, um Angolano. Era muito bom, mas já não existe. Aliás o mercado livreiro e editorial em Angola não é muito vivo. Não sei o que se produz agora. Fui convidada a participar de uma exposição de banda desenhada em Angola promovida pelo OLINDOMAR estúdios. Enviei alguns trabalhos, mas nem sei se foram expostos. Eles não voltaram a me contactar. Mas imagino que a banda desenhada, como se chamam os quadrinhos em Angola, estejam sim “vivos e bem de saúde”. Jovens talentosos lá há muitos! Problemas existem nas editoras.

Chiquinha (CH): I was a regular reader of one of the little Angolan strips from the 90s– MANKIKO [en, pt] by Sérgio Piçarra, an Angolan cartoonist. It was very good, but it doesn't exist anymore. As a matter of fact, the book market in Angola is not very active. I don't know what is being produced right now. I was invited to participate in a comic exposition in Angola promoted by OLINDOMAR studios. I sent some work, but I'm not even sure if it was shown. They never contacted me again. But I imagine that the “banda desenhada”, as comics are called in Angola, are “alive and well.” There are many talented youth there! The problems are with the editors.

GV: Your work began in Angola and now continues in Brazil. Has this changed in some way the day-to-day inspiration for your work?

CH: Em Angola eu tenho um livro infantil escrito e ilustrado por mim, mas não tinha nada feito nada parecido com ilustração em quadrinhos. Os quadrinhos A Kindumba da ANA começaram aqui mesmo no Brasil (onde hoje moro) a partir do meu interesse em cabelos naturais, curiosidade e amor aos cabelos naturais crespos. Foi quase por acaso que nasceu “a Kindumba da ANA”. Eu participava de um grupo do Facebook chamado Angolanas Naturais e Amigos, e lá se discutia muito sobre cabelos naturais.

Na conversa com outras meninas , sempre surgiam cenas do quotidiano engraçadas, chatas, polêmicas, tristes, alegres… enfim, como gosto muito de desenhar, decidi brindar algumas meninas com historinhas que teriam um final feliz e/ou engraçado. Assim nasceu a Kindumba da ANA.

O facto de estar no Brasil não mudou, porque a fonte de inspiração continua sendo cabelo crespo natural, e nada mais. Alguns episódios referem-se ao Brasil especificamente, mas sempre tendo o cabelo como protagonista principal.

CH: In Angola, I have a children's book that I wrote and illustrated, but I haven't done anything that is similar to comic illustration. The “A Kindumba da ANA” comics began here in Brazil (where I live today) when I became interested in natural hair, as well as the curiosity and love for naturally curly hair. It was almost by chance that “A Kindumba da ANA” was born. I participated in a Facebook group called Angolanas Naturais e Amigos [Natural Angolan Women and Friends], and in the group there was a lot of discussion about natural hair.

In the discussion with other girls, there were always stories of day-to-day life that were funny, boring, controversial, sad, happy… anyway, as I really like to draw, I decided to show recognition for some of the girls with little stories that would have a happy or funny ending. And that's how “A Kindumba da ANA” was born.

The fact that I'm in Brazil hasn't changed anything because the source of inspiration has continued to be naturally curly hair, and nothing more. Some episodes refer specifically to Brazil, but always with hair as the main character.

  In this strip, Ana is questioned about the time dedicated to her hair and her pity on those who straighten their kindumba (curly hair). I have concluded that now, with naturally curly hair, it's just me that styles it. (1) Ana, don't you waste a lot of time and patience on your hair? (2) No way! Before it was: (3) wait for my stylist: (4) hope that she was in a good mood; (5) that she didn't pull on my hair with force; (6) and that she didn't burn me...[Ana says (worried): careful with my ear. And the stylist responds, impatiently: I know what I'm doing!] (7) Now: it's just me. (8) whenever I want! (9) and I discovered that my hair is growing!!!

In this strip, Ana is questioned about the time dedicated to her hair and her pity for those who straighten their kindumba (curly hair). I have concluded that now, with naturally curly hair, it's just me that styles it.” (1) Ana, don't you waste a lot of time and patience on your hair? (2) No way! Before it was: (3) Wait for my stylist: (4) Hope that she was in a good mood; (5) That she didn't pull on my hair with force; (6) And that she didn't burn me…[Ana says (worried): "Careful with my ear." And the stylist responds, impatiently: "I know what I'm doing!"] (7) Now: it's just me. (8) Whenever I want! (9) And I discovered that my hair is growing!!!”

GV: How is it to work between different cultures?

Chiquinha: Eu não considero o Brasil tão diferente de Angola culturalmente falando. Aliás, Angola consome actualmente muita cultura do mundo inteiro. Principalmente os mais jovens. Nem a língua chega a ser um entrave à compreensão das tirinhas que faço. Aliás, a maioria dos fãs da Kindumba da ANA são Brasileiros. Não sei se porque a internet é mais acessível aqui no Brasil, ou se existem outros motivos para isso.

CH: I don't consider Brazil that different from Angola, culturally speaking. By the way, Angola currently consumes a lot of global culture. Mostly younger people. Not even the differences in language are an obstacle to the understanding of my comics. Even so, most of the fans of “Kindumba da ANA” are Brazilian. I don't know if it's because the Internet is more accessible here in Brazil, or if there are other reasons for this.

GV: In Brazilian comics, the possibilities of the online world and the increase in participation of authors from other corners of the country seem to bringing a greater diversity to the field, with the inclusion of other themes and world views in the comics that are available to readers. From your point of view as a foreigner, do you believe this is a trend? How was your reception?

CH: Eu não conheço muitos quadrinhos Brasileiros. Conheço a Turma da Mônica, as charges do Laerte, Henfil… mas não sou leitora assídua de revistinhas em quadrinhos. Então não saberia responder se existe essa tendência de mudança e inclusão de novos temas.

Sobre a minha acolhida, devo dizer que a resposta tem sido bastante positiva. As pessoas gostam de se ver representadas. Eu tento dar à A.N.A uma personalidade leve e agradável, um tipo abordagem que permita que crianças e adultos considerem os cabelos naturais, simplesmente como eles são: cabelos naturais. A A.N.A vem para imprimir leveza a um tema que poderia facilmente ser revestido de polêmica.

CH: I am not familiar with very many Brazilian comics. I know Turma da Mônica, the cartoons of Laerte, Henfil… but I'm not a regular reader of the little magazines of comics. Therefore, I wouldn't know how to respond if there is a trend of change and inclusion of new themes.

About my reception, I must say that the response has been rather positive. People like to see themselves represented. I try to give to ANA a light and pleasant personality that allows children and adults to think of their natural hair simply as what it is: naural hair. ANA is meant to make a theme that could easily be overwhelmed by controversy a bit lighter.

 In this strip, Ana suffers from the harassment of her boss with respect to her hair. (1) The boss says: Explain to me, your hair like that, what is it? Some problem? A pledge? Somebody put a curse on you? Is it a bet? Is it punishment? A challenge? A debt? Were you widowed? Did someone leave you? (2) Ana thinks: Ai ai... If you weren't the boss, one word would do it, but that's how it is... (3) Ana responds: it's pride, it's good sense, it's having charm, self-love, higher self-esteem, it's stylish, it's a choice, it's making myself attractive, well-resolved, free, fabulous, powerful and beautiful! Any more questions? (4) The boss thinks: Uh-oh, now I look weak...

In this strip, Ana suffers from harassment from her boss with respect to her hair. (1) The boss says: Explain to me, with your hair like that, why is it? Some problem? A pledge? Somebody put a curse on you? Is it a bet? Is it punishment? A challenge? A debt? Were you widowed? Did someone leave you? (2) Ana thinks: If you weren't the boss, one word would do it, but that's how it is… (3) Ana responds: It's pride, it's good sense, it's having charm, self-love, higher self-esteem, it's stylish, it's a choice, it's making myself attractive, well-resolved, free, fabulous, powerful and beautiful! Any more questions? (4) The boss thinks: Uh-oh, now I look weak…

GV: We live in a time of affirmation of all identities– ethnicity, gender, religion, and others. The demonstration of these identities is rather perceptible online, and one of these examples is your own work with “A Kindumba da Ana”. Do you think that this change will manage to jump from the virtual world onto the streets?

Chiquinha: Acho que sim, e devo dizer que as redes sociais permitem que isso aconteça de um modo bastante abrangente. Eu mesma consegui voltar a usar o meu cabelo natural depois de pesquisar no You Tube o que fazer com o meu cabelo, porque eu de facto não sabia como cuidar dele. Não sabia o que usar, como pentear , estilizar, lavar… Depois foi o Facebook, troca de experiências, contacto com outras pessoas iguais a mim e a cada dia eu me sentia mais encorajada a perseguir um modelo meu, um modelo que não se vê na televisão , nas revistas, na literatura.

Na rua, vejo surgir aos poucos, outro modelo de gente. Gente que se parece consigo mesma. Gente que não quer se parecer com o padronizado da sociedade pré fabricada!

I think so, and I must say that social networks allow this to happen in a rather comprehensive way. I myself have returned to wearing my hair naturally after researching on YouTube what to do with my hair, because I really didn't know how to take care of it. I didn't know how to wear it, comb it, stye it, wash it… After that I went to Facebook, exchanged experiences, and made contact with other people just like me, and every day I feel more encouraged to pursue this new version of myself, one that isn't seen on television, in magazines, or in literature.

On the street, I see it emerging bit by bit, another norm for people. People that look like themselves. People that don't want to look like the standardized norm of a pre-fabricated society!

Interview with A.N.As (read as Anas) (1) Why the decision to wear your hair naturally? (2) Ana, dressed in African clothing, says: Because I wanted to

(1) Why the decision to wear your hair naturally? (2) Ana, dressed in African clothing, says: Because I wanted to “connect” with my ancestry. (3) Ana, with glasses, sitting at a desk, with a cup of coffee in hand. She says: What a silly question! (4) Ana in a short skirt, blouse, big earrings, giving the middle finger with a mischievous smile. She says: Because I told “fashion” to screw yourself! (5) Ana in a flowered dress and a candid smile. She says: Because I think its beautiful!

This article is part of the a series that celebrates Black Awareness Day in Brazil (November 20). Read the first interview: Persistent Stereotypes, Latent Prejudices: Black Characters in Brazilian Comics

 

October 25 2013

VIDEO: Angola's Kuduro as an Urban Phenomenon

A new film on Angola's frenetic music genre and dance, Kuduro (literally ‘hard ass’), follows the steps of some of the key figures that have helped this popular style turn into an urban cultural movement:

Created in the discos and raves in downtown Luanda through a fusion between House and Techno beats and traditional Angolan rhythms, Kuduro spilled over from the centre of the city to the suburbs. It rapidly spread throughout Angola, Africa and now all over the world.

Kuduro mixes dance, music and lifestyle, its lyrics take inspiration from the simple day-to-day things in life, and its culture is present a little here, there and everywhere – be that on a street corner, in a school, in a taxi or even a football stadium.

Watch the trailer of ‘I love Kuduru’:

</p> <p>The film, by M&#225;rio Patroc&#237;nio, is going to be screened in Lisbon on October 27, 2013. The premier took place at the International Film Festival of Rio de Janeiro on&nbsp;September 30, 2013. For updates, subscribe I Love Kuduru's&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/ILOVEKUDUROFILM">Facebook page</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://instagram.com/ilovekudurofilm">Instagram</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.flickr.com/people/ilovekudurofilm">Flickr</a>&nbsp;accounts.</p> <p class="gv-rss-footer"><span class="credit-text"><span class="contributor">Written by <a title="View all posts by Sara Moreira" href="http://globalvoicesonline.org/author/sara-moreira/">Sara Moreira</a></span></span> &middot; <span class="commentcount"><a title="comments" href="http://globalvoicesonline.org/2013/10/25/angola-kuduru-film-music/#comments">comments (0) </a></span><br /><a title="read Donate" href="http://globalvoicesonline.org/donate/">Donate</a> &middot; <span class="share-links-text"><span class="share-links-label">Share: </span> <a id="gv-st_facebook" title="facebook" target="new" href="http://www.facebook.com/share.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fglobalvoicesonline.org%2F2013%2F10%2F25%2Fangola-kuduru-film-music%2F"><span class="share-icon-label">facebook</span></a> &middot; <a id="gv-st_twitter" title="twitter" target="new" href="http://twitter.com/share?url=http%3A%2F%2Fglobalvoicesonline.org%2F2013%2F10%2F25%2Fangola-kuduru-film-music%2F&#038;text=VIDEO%3A+Angola%26%2339%3Bs+Kuduro+as+an+Urban+Phenomenon&#038;via=globalvoices"><span class="share-icon-label">twitter</span></a> &middot; <a id="gv-st_googleplus" title="googleplus" target="new" href="https://plus.google.com/share?url=http%3A%2F%2Fglobalvoicesonline.org%2F2013%2F10%2F25%2Fangola-kuduru-film-music%2F"><span class="share-icon-label">googleplus</span></a> &middot; <a id="gv-st_reddit" title="reddit" target="new" href="http://reddit.com/submit?url=http%3A%2F%2Fglobalvoicesonline.org%2F2013%2F10%2F25%2Fangola-kuduru-film-music%2F&#038;title=VIDEO%3A+Angola%26%2339%3Bs+Kuduro+as+an+Urban+Phenomenon"><span class="share-icon-label">reddit</span></a> &middot; <a id="gv-st_stumbleupon" title="StumbleUpon" target="new" href="http://www.stumbleupon.com/submit?url=http%3A%2F%2Fglobalvoicesonline.org%2F2013%2F10%2F25%2Fangola-kuduru-film-music%2F&#038;title=VIDEO%3A+Angola%26%2339%3Bs+Kuduro+as+an+Urban+Phenomenon"><span class="share-icon-label">StumbleUpon</span></a> &middot; <a id="gv-st_delicious" title="delicious" target="new" href="http://del.icio.us/post?url=http%3A%2F%2Fglobalvoicesonline.org%2F2013%2F10%2F25%2Fangola-kuduru-film-music%2F&#038;title=VIDEO%3A+Angola%26%2339%3Bs+Kuduro+as+an+Urban+Phenomenon"><span class="share-icon-label">delicious</span></a></span> </p>

October 20 2013

Nine Signs the Journalism on Africa You’ve Just Encountered is Trash

Imran Garda identifies nine signs of trash journalism on Africa:

You may already have accepted that those images of swollen potbellies underneath protruding ribs, those sticky flies sitting on the starving child’s eyebrows and lips, those panoramic views of refugee camps are not the be-all and end-all of Africa. Or those unclear references to Africa which suggest it’s a monolith, or even worse, a country. You may have accepted that all these, some of which are not inaccurate in some places, don’t provide the full picture. A picture which, if it were genuine, would reflect a continent of diverse peoples and ideas, varied standards of living (including horrendous poverty and unbelievable inequality) yet infinite potential, a picture of an eclectic mix of things good and bad.

Besides flies, potbellies and continental monoliths, here are some other telltale signs of simplistic and often pathetic attempts to cover Africa. If more than one of these apply to your print, online or broadcast journalism source, you’re probably not getting your information from the most reliable place.

October 18 2013

Activists Demand Release of Angola's Youngest Political Prisoner

Nito Alves in front of his wall newspaper. Photo shared on his Facebook profile.

Nito Alves in front of the wall newspaper he created in the Bairro do Chimuco, Viana. Photo shared on his Facebook profile.

It has been more than a month since a 17-year-old activist from Angola was detained after allegedly having ordered the print of 20 t-shirts saying “[President] José Eduardo out! Disgusting dictator”. 

Manuel Chivonde Baptista ‘Nito Alves’ was jailed on September 12, 2013, and is currently at Luanda central prison, after a few days of solitary confinement and a period at Luanda's Provincial Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DPIC).

For Leslie Lefkow (@LeslieLefkowHRW), from Human Rights Watch, Angola's human rights situation “has sunk to a new low“:

[Nito Alves] will be the first Angolan to be charged under article 25 of a 2010 state security law. The crime of “insulting” the Republic of Angola or the president of Angola in “public meetings or by disseminating words, images, writings or sound” is punishable by up to three years in prison – a blatant violation of free expression rights.

Maka Angola reported [pt] on October 11 that the activist was still without access to a lawyer and visitors and in poor health condition. Renowned Angolan writer José Eduardo Agualusa wrote [pt] a note in solidarity. Member of European Parliament Ana Gomes sent a letter presenting the case of Nito Alves to the President of the European Commission, Durão Barroso, and Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. 

An activist youth group, Angolan Revolutionary Movement (MRA), requested hearings [pt] with various institutions of the government until now to no avail. An online petition [pt] demands Nito Alves’ “immediate and unconditional release”.

Reposted byangola angola

October 11 2013

Re-Imagining Lusophony and Decolonizing the Mind

The Fourth International Congress in Cultural Studies – Colonialisms, Post-colonialisms and Lusophonies has a call for paper submissions open until October 15, 2013:

To demystify, to dehierarchize, to establish a policy of difference, to allow a multiplicity of voices, to constitute so many projects of possible modernities/rationalities within post-modernity, to mobilize, to re-politicize, to imagine other political, social and economical models, this is the task (utopian, of course) that is, for us, essential in the re-imagining of Lusophony.

(…)

A postcolonial reflection in a Lusophone context cannot avoid the exercise of criticism to the old dichotomies of periphery/center, cosmopolitanism/rurality, civilized/savage, black/white, north/south, in a context of cultural globalization, transformed by new and revolutionary communication phenomena, which have also globalized marginality.

The congress will take place from April 28 to 30, 2014, in the city of Aveiro, Portugal.

September 19 2013

Youth Protest Scheduled in Angola Despite Police Warning

An unauthorized youth demonstration [pt] called by the Angolan Revolutionary Movement (Movimento Revolucionario Angolana) is planned for this afternoon, September 19, 2013, in the capital city of Angola, Luanda. A few hours before the demonstration is expected to begin, Mozambican journalist from BBC Africa Zenaida Machado (@zenaidamz) wrote on Twitter:

Machado quotes a statement by the Spokesman of National Police, Aristófanes dos Santos, broadcast on national television TPA last night:

She also recalls Amnesty International's recent statements urging the Angolan authorities not to suppress the upcoming demonstration. The human rights organization is concerned “that like previous protests, Thursday will see unwarranted force used against the protesters”.

August 31 2013

VIDEO: Angolan Prison Authorities Crack Down on Prisoners

A video showing what appears to be prison guards and firefighters beating a group of prisoners in Luanda (warning: graphic) has been widely shared on Angolan social media. Amnesty International reacted saying that the footage “is shocking and must be investigated,”

The footage, recorded on a mobile phone and distributed via social media, is 5 minutes and 39 seconds long and is believed to have been recorded earlier this month. It shows a group of prisoners sitting on the ground as law enforcement officials and fire fighters drag them from the group one-by-one, kick them and beat them with sticks and leather straps.

The footage appears to have been taken in Viana Prison, in the country’s capital Luanda, where similar footage had previously been uncovered.

Angola's Ministry of the Interior stated on August 27, 2013, that a commission of inquiry would be opened to investigate the case, ”the latest in an increasingly disturbing pattern of brutal conduct by Angolan prison authorities”, the human rights organization says:

Given the recurrence of these incidences, it is clearly not enough that a commission of inquiry is opened into such cases.

July 09 2013

June 23 2013

Contestation sonore en Angola

A la veille d'élections générales sans grandes incertitudes, un fossé se creuse entre la société angolaise et le régime vieillissant du président José Eduardo dos Santos. La jeunesse luandaise exprime ses frustrations dans le kuduro, un genre musical qui s'est diffusé bien au-delà du pays. / Angola, (...) / Angola, Élections, Jeunes, Mouvement de contestation, Musique, Parti politique, Pauvreté, Politique, Guerre civile - 2012/08

June 19 2013

An Open Letter to the Cultural Foundation of the Republic of Germany

Safia Dickersbach (@ArtsSafia) challenges a new programme dedicated to foster “German-African cultural relations”:

3. The Kulturstiftung claims to support the new African initiatives in the area of contemporary and innovative art. But on the other hand:

a. Africans are not allowed to apply for the funds directly.

b. The African partners are only allowed to apply together with an institutional partner in Germany. The funding guidelines reveal the reason to this: “The German partner, as the project coordinator, has to assume responsibility for ensuring that all funds are expended as contractually agreed upon with the Federal Cultural Foundation.” In other, simpler, words: The Africans are not trustworthy.

May 27 2013

Amnesty Publishes 2013 Report on Angola

Amnesty International annual report on Angola is available online. The NGO highlights cases such as the problem of police repression against the opposition parties during the presidential election last year, the abduction of the activists who organized protests demanding the payment of salaries and pensions to former war veterans in May 2012, Antonio Alves Kamulingue and Isaiah Sebastian Cassule, as well as the lack of freedom of expression in the country.

May 17 2013

Angola Threatens to Shut Down Media

The Ministry of Communication of Angola threatens to suspend the public license of the Radio Despertar station and of the Folha 8 newspaper, despite the measure being unconstitutional. The government says they encourage public disorder. The announcement was made on Wednesday, May 15, as reported the Voz da América [pt] website. Some owners of the Radio have ties with the main opposition party UNITA [en]. In 2012, the police confiscated computers of the Folha 8.

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