Angola: music, coffee, dance and bloody history

Blue Dahlia, Green Clothes

A week spent in Angola absorbing its books, music, films and food left me with dreams of what could have been. Of how our world would look if the Portuguese hadn’t gone on a murderous, thieving rampage; if they hadn’t then colonised Brazil and filled it with Angolan slaves; if Angola hadn’t discovered oil; if the US, Russia, South Africa and Cuba hadn’t waged a proxy cold war there; if the present government shared the vast petro-dollars that make it one of the world’s most expensive countries.

Putting aside thoughts of what could have been, I searched for Angolan goods everywhere. And that is harder than it sounds as Angolan land is still too pockmarked with landmines to produce much food. The recipe for peanut stew called for spice berbere, but I couldn’t get it anywhere. Not even in the incredible Sami’s African food, which had everything from palm wine to cow’s feet. So I swapped chicken for vegan chicken chunks from Wing Yip and berbere for garam masala and the result was delicious, unlike the Angolan cornbread which went so wrong I won’t post the recipe here.

In my defence, I was not planning on blogging when the photo was taken so the poor quality is more justifiable.

I couldn’t even find the once famous Angolan coffee or chocolate. The reason for this became clear when I read Daniel Metcalfe travelogue Blue Dahlia, Black Gold which explains that such crops now sit in dock waiting for exporters to care about anything other than the massive oil reserves.

The first book I read about Angola was Another Day of Life, so I was delighted to find it has been made into a film. Unfortunately Google failed to find me a way to pay to watch it, so we streamed a dodgy version on YouTube instead. YouTube also gave us Njinga, Queen of Angola, a great film for reminding you of just how long Europeans have been torturing this great country. I vowed to never sign a treaty with the Portuguese.

As well as great poverty and wealth, modern Angola is filled with dance and music, so I finished my week by finding out more with the music documentary Fonko. This inspired me to make my own playlist of Angolan songs… I would love it if any Angolans who happen to read this can let me know if there is anything I have missed.

So much more to learn about Angola, such as the links to Brazil, but I have to move on, to the tiny Caribbean island of Anguilla!

31 October 2020

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Armchair traveller

Zero carbon lockdown travel through books, drinks, food, films, music and the magic of living in multicultural #Birmingham.