Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Angola's Annual 10K Race


The São Silvestre De Luanda 10K running race is one of the most celebrated and traditional athletic events held in Angola.  Occurring on December 31 each year in the Angolan capital, Luanda, the race is an international sporting event that promotes athletics in Angola in its purest essence. 

Patterned under the race of the same name in Brazil, the São Silvestre was first held in 1954 and featured only Angolan runners until 1964 when recognized world athletes were invited to participate.   Consisting a plot of 10 Kilometers, the initial aims of the race were to equally celebrate one of the Catholic's Holy Day's of Obligation as well as to prove international athletic character.

Recognized athletes from Ethiopia, Portugal, South Africa, Kenya and Zimbabwe annually participate in the running event. (Sao Silvestre website)

Friday, December 19, 2014

Celebrating Christmas in Angola

Angolans only began celebrating Christmas after the arrival of Christian Missionaries in the 15th century. Presently, after more than 500 years of Christianity and colonization followed by over 30 years of independence, the celebration of Christmas has undergone various influences – from traditional African culture, popular Catholic traditions from the previous Portuguese colonization and from other Christian sects as well as secularism.

Christmas for most of the people in the countryside is the most-awaited feast; the preparation is done both materially and spiritually. It’s always preceded by spiritual exercises and pilgrimages to the their local churches for the 'ceia'; church service. Materially, families usually save some money during the whole year to buy special foods for this feast – rice, pasta and other industrialized foods. In agricultural communities, some animals are reared to be slaughtered at Christmas – such as cows, goats, and chickens.

In the cities, Christmas preparations are more organized and better structured. Spiritually it is notable in the participation of the faithful in retreats and preparation for the baptism of children. More zealous Christians go to church services at midnight on December 24th and on Christmas Day.  Those who miss the chance to go to church, either because of work or perhaps over-indulgence in festivities, end up viewing the live telecast church services on the National Television Channel.

Since Christmas is also an occasion for a family feast, it is common to find homes filled with parents and grandparents, children and grand-children.  Like in the countryside, unexpected guests are most welcome. There is room for everybody; this comes from the deep-rooted African tradition of hospitality.

At the ceia church service at midnight on December 24th, urban Angolan families eat cozido de bacalhau, or cooked cold fish, with many vegetables. They also eat turkey with rice and drink table wine and other drinks. After the ceia they exchange gifts and eat handmade cakes and dried fruits, including grapes with which everybody makes wishes. 

Specifically, at Christmas urban Angolans celebrate the end of the year and the coming New Year with an Angolan Christmas tradition of the eating of ‘bolo-rei’(translated ‘king-cake’);  a sweet, Portuguese cake. (from La Salette website)

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Uige: Historic Province Series

Uíge (pronounced: "Weej") is one of the eighteen provinces in Angola and is located in the northwestern part of the country. Its capital city is of the same name, Uige.

During the Middle Ages, the Uige Province was the heartland of the Kongo Kingdom. The kings lived in the city of Mbanza-Kongo which had a population of about 50,000 in the 16th century and ruled with great authority in the region for several centuries.

The knowledge of metallurgy among the Bakongo was renowned as they became famous as iron blacksmiths; their king was even called the “Blacksmith King”. The arrival of Portuguese priests who lived at the king’s court and taught religion as well as literacy first strengthened their reign; their relationship with the Portuguese strongholds of the region was rather cordial and peaceful. Things changed incisively when the Portuguese started in the 19th century to conquer and occupy the territory of what at present is Angola..

In the early part of 20th century the province was on a economic decline due to its inhospitable terrain and poor accessibility.  The situation changed entirely when the Portuguese discovered that soil and climate were favorable to coffee production. The Uíge province (then called "district") became Angola’s major center for coffee production in the 1950s. While part of the production came from European (mostly Portuguese) owned plantations, most producers were Bakongo smallholders. In times gone by, Uíge had the honour of being “the land of the red beans.” It was the leading coffee bean production area, when Angola was the fourth biggest producer in the world.  Its market centre of Uige town, the district capital, prospered and was designated a city in 1956.

To encourage the principle of national integration with Portugal, many towns in Angola were renamed during Portuguese colonial rule, including the provincial capital of Uíge town, which was renamed Vila Marechal Carmona ("Marshal Carmona Town") after Marshal Óscar Carmona, the former President of Portugal, later simplified as Carmona.

Beginning in October 2004 and continuing into 2005, Uige Province was the center of an outbreak of Marburg hemorrhagic fever, a disease closely related to Ebola. Now under control, there were 374 cases with 88 deaths.  According to the UN and was, at the time, the world's worst epidemic of any kind of hemorrhagic fever.

One of the natural beauty features of Uige is the Grutas do Nzenzo (the Nzenzo Grottos, one of the “7 Natural Wonders of Angola”). The Grutas are inside a strangely-shaped mountain with pointed stones that give it a somewhat solemn air. The term “Nzenzo” means “spring” or “source” of water since there is actually a spring inside the grottoes, flowing down from the cave roof at the large 'mouth' entrance.  The internal rocky labyrinth is composed of various layers of stone, each overlapping the one below, giving it unmistakable rare beauty due to its distinct emerald green colors. (TAAG Austral Magazine, Wikipedia)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Launch of the New CEML Hospital Website

BREAKING NEWS!  Today marks the initial relaunch of the website for the CEML Hospital based in Lubango Angola.
The new site features a fresh design, focused on:
  • Current stories of patient's physical transformation;
  • Highlights of CEML's services throughout Angola;
  • News concerning pertinent medical crisis in Angola; and
  • Provision of an online donation venue.
The website is formatted for both desktop and mobile devices.
 
Please click this link to explore the new website:    www.ceml.org

We hope that you will enjoy navigating the new CEML website and will forward the new website link to others to broaden CEML's exposure.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Saving Angola's Indigenous Languages

Angola is a plurilingual country, with six African languages recognized as national languages as well as Portuguese as the official language.  Besides this, it is estimated that there are 37 languages and 50 dialects in use in the country. At the end of October 2013, the blog Círculo Angolano Intelectual (Angolan Intellectual Circle) reported that 30 percent of the Angolan population (almost 8.5 million Angolans) only speak national languages which are not featured in any educational or social program and noted that this factor contributes to provoke social exclusion.

“On average, a language disappears every two weeks, and Africa is the continent most at risk”, wrote the author José Eduardo Agualusa in a 2011 article on the evolution of languages in Angola. However, during the past year a number of online platforms have been created with the aim of protecting Angola's national languages

In an attempt to counter the phenomenon, various online initiatives were created during 2013 by young people who view the new technologies as a tool for the promotion and protection of national languages.

One project, still in its initial phase, which aims to promote learning of the Angolan national languages in an innovative way, free of charge and accessible to everyone with access to the Internet, is Evalina. 

Created in May 2013 by Joel Epalanga, an IT project manager in the telecommunications sector, the primary motive for the creation of the platform was the observation that there is a gap faced by many young people with regard to the national languages.

Evalina consists of a Facebook page where content such as incentives to learn and lessons on national languages are shared. At the date of publication of this article, the page featured lessons on Umbundu, the second most-spoken language after Portuguese, and on Kimbundo.

Another project which stands out is the Ngola Yetu Dictionary, a dictionary and online translator for Angolan national languages “developed with the goal of reinforcing Angolan culture and increasing its use among young people”. With a simple and intuitive design not unlike Google, it works as a search engine between the Kikongo, Kimbundo, Umbundo and Portuguese languages. The project has used Facebook and Twitter to interact with web users.


Between 2004 and 2010, a trial was carried out to introduce seven national languages in a series of schools in the country. The Ministry of Education declared in September 2013 that it plans to expand the teaching of national languages into all primary schools. A bill on the Statute of National Language in Angola ”to promote social inclusion and strengthen unity in ethno linguistic diversity” is in its concluding phase. (Global Voices, 2014)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Keila: An Original Angola Board Game

Kiela is a mancala game played by Kimbundu speaking people in northern Angola near Grandos Lagos and Alto Zambeze. The name of the game means "puzzle" or "mindsport"
The game plays an important role in the oral literature and it is said to be a game of peace because "it can turn enemies into friends".
The "Instituto Nacional do Património Cultural" reports that the first official tournament was held in 1989 by the SIAC/Fenacult.  Later in 1999, the government of Angola instituted the "Prémio Kiela", a tournament which has offered prizes up to 1,500 US$ for the winner. In the early 2000s, the game was supported by the Angolan Ministry of Culture and the province governor Aníbal Rocha.
In 1991, Bernardo Francisco Campos developed the first Kiela software and registered it with the Directorate of Spectacles Property Rights, in Lisbon.  Later in 2001, Campos founded an Angolan organization called "Associação para a Promoção do Kiela (Aprokiela)" with the objective to promote Kiela and other cultural values. Campos also trademarked the game in 18 countries, among them South Africa, the European Union, and the USA.

Playing Rules
Kiela is played on a board made by four rows of ten holes. Each player controls the two rows on his side of the board.
The initial position depends on the experience and strength of the players:
   Beginners start with one seed in each hole of the outer rows and one stone in each of the four right holes of each player's inner row.





Initial Position for Beginners

   Advanced players start with two seeds per hole in the same holes as described above.






Initial Position for Advanced Players

   Expert players may, at their first turn, rearrange the stones on their side.






Possible Position after Expert Play

At his turn a player takes the contents of one of his holes, which contains two or more seeds, and sows them one by one anti-clockwise into the succeeding holes of his board side.
If the last stone lands in an empty hole, the turn ends.
If the last stone lands in an occupied hole all these stones (the one just landed plus the ones that were already there) are picked up and sown in another lap.
   If this occupied hole is in the inner row and the opposite hole of the opponent is occupied, the stones of this hole are captured and the player keeps on sowing with them starting in the hole following the one that allowed him to capture.
   If the outer hole of the opponent is also occupied, the player captures also its stones, and then sows the stones of both opponent's holes.

When a player cannot move (i.e., all his holes are empty or contain single stones), he has lost. (From Mancala.wikia.com)