Angola, based in South West of Africa, is another Lusophone country (Portuguese speaking). Open to the Atlantic Ocean, its history and geography have given the country unique cultural characteristics. The country was colonised for hundreds of years by the Portuguese who, captivated by the beauty of the country, settled down in Angola. Today’s Angola is shaped by a Portuguese community, 8 main tribes (Umbundu, Mbundu, Bakongo, Lunda-Chokwe, Nganguela, Ovambo, Haneca and Herero) and other African nationalities coming from neighbouring countries.
Justino, an Angolan student at Deakin University majoring in International Business, Management, Trade and Policy, talks about his native country. Angola is a “beautiful country, so accepting with almost no racism and no tribalism. Portuguese have remained after colonial times and formed families with Angolans”. Proud of being Umbundu, Justino explains “we have managed to create economic prosperity but we never look down on other tribes”.
Angolan history is very rich and Portuguese have, sometimes, paid great respect to it. Prior to their arrival in 1482, Angola was divided into kingdoms. King Ngola was significant in the region and not only did he give his name to a whole dynasty of kings but to modern-day Angola. Justino proudly tells about how Queen Nzinga Mbande negotiated with the Portuguese to limit slave trade and territorial occupation. This highly respected Angolan figure from the 17th Century was Queen of the Ndongo and Matamba kingdoms (present-day Angola). Sent by her brother King Ngola Mbandi to negotiate a peace treaty with the Portuguese, she successfully became an ally of and respected by the Portuguese Crown. To protect her people, she was even baptised as Ana de Sousa Nzinga Mbande which ended slave raiding in her kingdoms.
Sadly the Portuguese rulers breached the agreement terms which prompted Queen Nzinga Mbande to tenuously lead a war against them until her death at the age of 81. By that time, she had managed to set her people of Matamba on equal footing with the Portuguese colony. She is still praised today by Angolans who have erected her statue in Luanda, capital of Angola. She is remembered for a political and diplomatic acumen, great wit as well as her military tactics.
1975 is the year when Angola gained its independence from Portugal and also when a civil war over presidential power broke out. Angola experienced 30 years of civil war in the 20th Century (1975-2002) and today is becoming an increasingly attractive place for its vast natural resources, flourishing entrepreneurial sector and constant investments in infrastructure.
Justino witnessed the economic development happening nowadays in Angola. The current president Jonas Dos Santos is “investing greatly in entrepreneurs, housing programs with improved sanitation and education”. Today Angola’s education system “offers night schools for adults who were unable to study during the civil war”. The Angolan Government has also taken the initiative to teach the local languages at school as well as encouraging pupils to wear traditional clothes.
Justino doesn’t hide his strong desire to learn Ovimbundu (the language of the Umbundus) because “I would like to be part of it. It’s also part of who we are and it would be too sad to lose our own language”. He hopes that the country won’t be given away to foreign investors but be rather beneficial to Angolans. “Build Angola for Angolans”, he asserts.
He sees himself being a business investor like his dad because “it is investment in Africa and I want to contribute back home”. His ambition goes beyond making an economic impact for Angola but also political as he adds “I want to make sure that an economic development won’t change people deep down and people aren’t left behind unnoticed, unheard in the economic progress as it could have negative impacts”.
He encourages Angolans to come and “try” Australia as it is an unknown place for many Angolans. “Australia has given me the opportunity to meet other Africans and made me realise that we don’t explore our continent enough”.