Published: April 10th 2012April 10th 2012
I was born in Luanda, the capital city of Angola.
5 hours Sydney to Perth, 10 hours Sydney to Johannesburg, 3 hours Johannesburg to LuandaWe were greeted at the airport by my Aunty, Uncle and 2 cousins. It was beautiful as I'd not seen my one and only (blood) Aunty since I was 3yrs old. Thankfully though, it was nothing too dramatic and emotional.Both my cousins studiously grabbed our luggage and we headed off. The drive to our hotel was about 45mins from the airport and the entire time I didn’t want to blink.What I saw was completely overwhelming although I’d seen it countless times.It was the exact scene from the movies which depict Africa.A storm of dust in a chaotic fallen city, uneven rubbish laden roads, women carrying goods on their heads with babies securely tied to their backs, homes that look entirely made up of 4 corrugated iron sheets, naked unattended children happily running through the streets, teens playing soccer with a hardly recognisable soccer ball.
Tragic, yet completely beautiful
Straight to the hotel where we chilled at the rooftop restaurant to take in our surroundings. Right on the beach, a market to one side and a police station on the other.
This morning we ventured out and although this is our home country we could not have stood out more than we did.The Italian handbags should have stayed home. We took a walk on the beach to check out the market on the far end.Just as we were entering the market a woman walking past warned us to keep a firm grip on our belongings.This of course freaked out my mother begging us to turn around.I urged her to continue. Fresh seafood for sale (covered in flies... maybe an excellent natural preservative?).There were fruit and vegetables, bread, beans, flour, oils, jewellery, clothing and footwear.I bought a pair of rubber thongs for 100 kwanza’s which is the equivalent to 1 USD.The blackened, littered shoreline was no place for my bedazzled city slicker sandals.
We made it out of there with no dramas, although to be honest I never once felt unsafe.My mother seems to think that’s just my ignorance.
Back to the hotel room to lose the handbags and then my Tio and Tia brought us lunch.A traditional Angolan meal, gazelle in a tomato based sauce served on Funge (the staple carb).It was ok although when I went to get my camera from my room to take this picture I took a massive swig of red wine to help it go down.The good ethnic parent will teach their child to always eat everything on the plate that someone has spent hours preparing. I did my best!
This afternoon we went for a drive to Isla de Luanda... apparently the nightlife is amazing and my cousin Miza has promised to take me clubbing there next week...
It’s my second night here and I’m feeling more at ease.With a mother that endured the harshness and destruction of the civil war (which came to a ceasefire only 10 years ago) her anxiety of being back in the country had gotten the better of me.Conversations with my cousins put my mind to rest that officers no longer point rifles to your head for no good reason, women walking alone aren’t abducted and taken as slaves and that riots no longer break out quite as suddenly.Times have changed and although it is currently voting registration here with UNITA & MPLA flags flying high I’m hoping there is a more sound political future for this country. The only way is up.