Monday, December 07, 2009

Kizua Mwangola: Part 3: Huambo

Things ended up going quite well with the conservatoria in the end. It sure didn't look like it in the beginning though. We got there around 07:00 AM on the dot, thinking this was early enough - I should have known better. The fall of Saigon had less people roaming around. Nevertheless, it was an instructive day as we figured out all the requirements to get things done. Next day I turned up at 05:10 AM, and was still number 12 in the queue (!!) but managed to put my request in. On the plus side, I was out by 09:30 AM.

Since it would take 5 working days to pick up the finished articles (e.g. the cedula and birth certificate), we decided to trek to Huambo to visit Cousin R. This is Angola's equivalent of Namibia's Windhoek, as it sits more or less on the centre of the country. Many years ago, the Portuguese had ambitions of making Huambo the capital of the empire; they called it Nova Lisboa. Due to its strategic importance and proximity to the rebels home ground, Huambo and the surrounding areas got shelled intensively during the war, particularly during the late nineties.

These days, the city is a recovering place. It still displays many scars of the recent past, but it also sports a great deal of rebuilt infrastructure. The government sees Huambo and the surrounding areas (such as Cela in Wako Kungo) as key for the agricultural revival the nation requires. Angola imports around 80% of what it consumes, a lot of which are cereals and other agricultural products. This is all the more amazing when one travels through the fertile lands of the plateau, kilometres and kilometres of greenery and very little of it affected by human hand. Imagine something like Hertfordshire but with unspoilt nature instead of farms and then scale that to a Britain-like size and you get close. Excluding the landmines, of course.

After a difficult bus trip, we spent 5 days in great luxury at cousin R's pad, with all the mod-coms. During the day we treked the city, visiting places like the granja, and meeting nice people such as Hugo. Time went far too quickly, and we had to go back to the madness of Luanda.

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