Monday, August 23, 2010

An Important Angolan Pilgrimage; to Muxima

Each year, tens of thousands of Catholic Angolans make a pilgrimage to the Catholic Church of Our Lady of Muxima. The church is situated in the Muxima village, northern Bengo province, 130 kilometres from Luanda, Angolan capital.  A 16th Century Portuguese Colonial structure, the church was an important center in the slave trade at the time of its construction.

Deriving from the Kimbundo vernacular language, the word Muxima means heart. This name was attributed to this sanctuary due its localisation (in the centre of the province, along the coast of the Kwanza River).  Now, within the Catholic distinctions, the name and significance of Mary, the mother of Jesus, is linked to the name Muxima.

The festivity to honour Lady Muxima has been happening every December 08, since 1833. Due to its importance and historic significance, in 1924 the Church of Our Lady of Muxima was considered as a important national monument and was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List on November 22nd, 1996 in the Cultural category.
Since 1645, or before this date, thousands of people flock annually to its venue to speak about his worries, agonies and desires. In 2008, the festivities in honour of Our Lady of Muxima gathered about 150,000 pilgrims.

The village of Muxirna was occupied by the portugueses in 1589 and ten years later (1599), the Fortress was founded and the church was built with a prayer invoking divine blessing from "Nossa Senhora da Muxirna".  Muxima was an important empire of slaves traffic, protected by the Fortress, and the church played an important role in

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The 'Science' of Carrying Loads on Your Head

Carrying relatively heavy loads for long distances is still a regular activity for many people in the developing world, especially in Angola. For a variety of reasons (cultural, economic and practical), Angolan women regularly employ some form of head-load carriage, most often to transport essential items such as water and firewood.

Interestingly, within the Angolan cultural norms, only women are seen carrying items on their heads, while men usually carry loads on their shoulders. As one can imagine, head-supported loads are inheritantly unstable and they need well-developed neck muscles to support the spinal loading.
To be able to carry loads on their head, Angolan children start developing the balance and musculature in their early teens carrying bricks or small buckets of water and progress to heavier loads as they get older.

Scientific research in the UK and South Africa shows that African women can carry up to 20% of their
bodyweight with no additional energy exertion on level ground and that any load above 20% of their body weight incurs a proportional energy cost. For example, carrying 30% of BM (body mass) requires a 10% increase in energy - the 'free ride' hypothesis. With heavier loads, the energy increase was only half that of men carrying the same loads on their backs.

At any rate, with the prevelence of Angolan women carrying loads on their heads, it is easy to see that they are truly a labour force in the country.

The pictures in this posting are thanks to Kevin and Angela, Canadian missionaries serving at the CEML Hospital.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

One Tall Tower!

An oil-production facility offshore Angola, featuring one the tallest man-made structures in the world has started producing oil.  It's one of the world's largest structures and its helping Angola maintain its position as Africa's biggest crude oil producer.
The Tombua Landana tower in Angolan waters is an incredible 474 m high (1554 ft).  That makes it more than a third higher than the Eiffel tower and almost as high as the Taipei Financial Center in Taiwan, one of the tallest skycrapers in the world. The oil rig is located 80 km (48 miles) from the Angolan coast in approximately 366m (1200 ft) of water.

Chevron's $3.8 billion development, which is designed to allow zero discarge of produced water and zero routine gas flaring, is expected to reach peak production of 100,000 barrels of oil per day by 2011.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

World's Largest Market: 'The Roque' (The Rock)

The Roque Santeiro Market, a name that comes from the famous Brazilian soap opera that was a hit among the soap-opera crazed Angolans, is known for being the biggest open-air market in Africa, for transacting thousands of dollars a day, and for being the main stage for the sale of every imaginable product. Located in a northern suburb of Luanda, the capital, the 'Roque' is the size of 500 soccer fields in an area that measures one kilometer by one half a kilometer, housing 200,000 vendors. The infrastructure of each vendor stall is minimal: each “store” has a packed dirt floor, and the best roofs are some old, worn tin sheets, though more commonly just tarp.

The Roque Santeiro Market was established in its current venue in the 1980’s, at a time when the country was still beaten down by war and provisions were scarce. Initially designed like the Boa Vista Market of Portugal, the commercial area was perhaps the only location where it was possible a little bit of everything.  Now, today almost anything can be found for sale there.  Since the market is a large open-air commercial center, it certainly shouldn’t be wanting for a movie theater. The movie theater has two rooms and is built of wood and pieces of tarp, with seating capacity for 50 people each.

Currently, though the Roque Santeiro Market is means of survival for many Angolan families, at the same time the market is also a haven for criminals who have given the commercial area its bad name.  Though through hidden means, items such as guns and arms trafficking and both adult and child sexual services are reportedly able to be found.
Fortunately or unfortunately, the market’s days are numbered. The Luandan government plans to move the market from the Sambizanga to Panguila, located nearly 30 kilometers to the north of Luanda. The date has yet to be decided.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

African Folklore: Why the Warthog is so Ugly.

God created the warthog to be a fine-looking pig. He was so good-looking that he became vain and rude to all the other animals. He loved to insult others and then run to his den, often an abandoned aardvark hole, which he had enlarged and renovated. One day while warthog was out grazing, porcupine decided to borrow his hole for a brisk nap. At the same time, warthog could not resist insulting a nearby lion who chased him back to his snug little home. Warthog was so focused on escaping the lion’s massive teeth that he ran headlong into the awakened, defensive porcupine. With a face-full of quills, warthog desperately tried to find someone to help him extract the barbs. But those who hurl insults all day long don’t find help when they need it. He had to scrape the quills off by himself using a nearby acacia tree. This left his face disfigured with scars and warts. It has been that way ever since. And now warthog backs gently into his hole to protect his face from unwelcome guests who may be squatting within. (From: When the Hippo was Hairy and Other tales from Africa; Nick Greaves.)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ovimbundu Widsom! No. 5

Here are more Ovimbundu wisdom proverbs.  Enjoy!

Proverb 1: Epuku liocili te eli lioku pukula Suku.

Translation: God’s displeasure is a serious thing; that of others can be endured.
Proverb 2: Ca pata usitue, ocilala ci sule.
Translation: Relatives are a better defense than a fortress.