Unveiling Angola: A Deep Dive into Its History and Culture

United States versus Angola

What associations do people have when they hear the expression “The Dark Continent”? Most probably, grief and drought. Nevertheless, the reason for the present state of things in Angola is that people began to forget where they came from. There is no denying the fact that the territory of present African continent was the cradle of life on Earth. All the life forms that ever existed on Earth arose here. It is a place where culture and religion took their rise and evolution and origin of species began. Statehood and sovereignty in its original form started their way here. Literary, I would say Africa is “a Paradise lost”. I would also call America “Paradise regained”, in imitation of Milton. But people were chased from Paradise. Here, on Earth, you may find the Gardens of Eden only where wild-lands still remain, where no foot may tread.

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Northern America, year 1492. People who had thirst for freedom and adventures left their homes in search of new sea routes to India. One and a half century had passed before first pilgrims got aboard of Mayflower and left for new blessed lands. Many things have changed since then. Conflicts and wars within the continent are today substituted by conducting global continuous warfare, in any place on Earth, turning a territory into a flash point. I do pity and sympathise Native Americans. I wish the violation of rights of aboriginal people never occured. Democracy is the main vector of US’ social, economical and foreign policies. Latest news about economical life and foreign policy conduct are the first indicators of instability within the state and the government. The Untied States made a long a way to become a single sovereign state. Hard times have come, but even worse had already been left behind. Each time USA emerged the winner from each ordeal. 1861-1865 – the years when US had to go through the civil war. Something of that kind began in Angola in the middle of the XX century and first decades of the second half of the XX century. Something very similar and very different, at the same time, happened. However, on November 11th, 1975 independence of Angola was proclaimed. Becoming independent, Angola testified itself as a self-reliant country. Since my country had begun to move that way, negative and positive tendencies could be observed. Coups, revolutions, warfare… My people had to experience them and go through to pacify after all. I believe this sounds like the most terrifying of all paradoxes. To understand this, I had to become a stranger: a newcomer to a new world.

Moving to a new country, and meeting new people are always challenging. Changing a setting, one bids defiance to himself. It is a certain game, a game with fortune. My expectations and my motivation are gaining an experience, acquiring skills, and searching for new opportunities. New language, new culture, new lifestyle, new solutions and possibilities – the idea of making their acquaintance appealed to me. That was the reason why I decided to take a risk. I knew that being here I have access to knowledge. Meeting new people, striking up acquaintances is a big pleasure. Therefore, renewal and experience made up what I strive for.

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An average life expectancy in Angola is about 55 years, for both men and women. Climate is favourable, but people suffer over malnutrition and lack of potable water. The rate of AIDS is very high. Each year about eleven thousands people die of HIV/AIDS. In general, things are getting better now, but urgent issues still remain. Global community unties to fight fatal diseases, but practically everything turns on enthusiasm of charity organizations and people who show compassion and sympathy.

Civilization made a lot of good, and it still does, but it has also caused people a lot of grief. It probably happened when crucial moments came, everyone retreated, and there was no one left to help and support. Anyway, it made my country stronger. Another issue is quite low literacy rate (about 67 %). Experience of developed countries in educational sphere is most welcome and might be useful as in any other aspect of social life in Angola. International exchange programs will enable experience pass between developed countries and Angola. New experience and knowledge will help to redefine economy and social environment.

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In the broad sense, adopting new methods and practices may be useful in the context of their practical application in Angola, the country where I came from. USA aims at capturing control over deposits of minerals. By all means, in case of Africa, a fruitful, productive and beneficial cooperation might be established. Both parties must respect the interests of each other. Angola could learn a lot from that co-operation. USA might have learnt how to help properly and considerably. Developing countries, as well as people, fear of being deceived. Developed, strong countries, that still possess high living standards and hold their positions, fold operations in the international field and drive themselves on the margins of international life. On the other hand, roughly speaking, developing countries try to stay afloat, but still try to ensure the quality of their people’s lives is worthy of a man.

Angola once was a Portuguese colony in Africa, alongside with Mozambique and Guinea Bissau. Both USA and Angola are multinational and multicultural countries. USA is much more ethnically and culturally stratified, than Angola. Omnivindu people make up approximately 37% of Angola’s population, Kimbundu make up 25%, Bakongo – 13%, mestico – 2%, other ethnicities make up 1% and 2% of Angola’s population are Europeans. 53 % profess Christianity (Roman Catholic – 38%, Protestant (Methodists, Baptist and Congregationalists) – 15% (1998 est.). 44% adhere to indigenous African beliefs and cults (animism, jujuism, cult of ancestors and cult of forces of nature). Total population of Angola is about 18 million people.

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Ancestors of almost all European ethnicities make up population of the US, including active Diasporas. White people make up 72,4% of US’ population, African American – 12,6%, Asian American – 4,8%, American Indian, Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders make up only about 1,1% of the whole population. USA is a civil country. Predominant religion is Christianity, namely Protestantism. Total population of the United States is about 308, 7 million people.

Due to diverse ethnicity, race and religion, USA gains the character of a melting pot. Many cultures are mixed here, many religions are interwoven, many nations interlinked. National identity is highly valued and treated with equal dignity and respect. It is not an easy thing to understand and investigate how common people treat each other, even within the same ethnical group. World eliminates the distinctions, cultures and religions penetrate into each other, making up new conflations. USA stand sentinel over democracy and freedom. The nation may be regarded as free, if aggression, violence and prejudices are not characteristic to it. Background experience proves that minorities and prejudices exist within many communities and even whole nations; moreover, in each country they will be different. Countries that realise their prejudices and call upon to free themselves from all prejudices and preconceptions are nearest to freedom. Violence and aggression in most cases are one person’s will. At best or at worst, who knows, they are a matter of mentality. The point is that in America one must try hard to conform (remember Jerome David Salinger and his famous “Catcher in the Rye”). The reason “Catcher in the Rye” being so popular with English-speaking community is intolerance of nonconformity of any kind within this community. Other nations are more flexible and lenient for that matter. Pure talent and special abilities excite envy anyway. People do not feel their gifts, even if these gifts are empathy, sympathy, ability not to listen, but hear each other, or to inspire others. Their strength is just enough for envy. And it has become the routine: generally applied practice “I won’t watch”, “I won’t listen”, “I won’t speak”, or it is just speaking that makes sense. One single globalized information realm we all live in makes our lives colourless and emotionless. Usually, all that results in the decay of emotive sphere: people forget about ethics of feelings and try to pack the gap. The care about everything, but not about themselves and each other.

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Another aspect is that people are ready to work hard, in order to win respect among their colleagues. It was unusual for me to see how people may worry over other peoples’ opinion. USA is heavily populated, there are lots big cities, and a growing competition Density of population in the United States is much higher than in Angola. Probably, this fact might serve as a relevant explanation.

Some say it is possible to experience loneliness even when thousands of people are around you. I would say, it is impossible to stay alone. It is getting harder to commune with oneself. It is, however, necessary for a man to stay alone. Physical distance makes people stay together and stimulates the wish to socialize. One single culture, similar beliefs gave us the feeling of support, is what I truly miss.

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