Angolan Muslims Denounce Human Rights Violations

Aisha Lopes, the fashion designer, and her husband Angelica Bernardo da Costa (also known as Mujahid Kenyata) are Angolan nationals who converted to Islam in 1996.   Aisha, a diabetic, was nursing her 26-day-old infant delivered via high-risk Caesarean surgery when security forces raided the family’s apartment at 5 am on December 2 nd , 2016.  More than 20 armed officers from the Criminal Investigation Service (SIC) and the security branch burst in and detained her and her baby, along with her 39-year-old husband. Aisha says they ransacked the apartment, seizing computers, phones, more than 200 books, the couple’s bank cards and all the personal documents belonging to the couple.   “They even took my medical reports. They did not leave a single sheet of paper. “ “We are poor and the agents mocked us, saying that the head of the terrorists in Angola had almost nothing of worth in […]

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All the President’s Children

Are you suffering from corruption fatigue? Yes, it gets to us all. There is just so much of it. Everywhere. Shameless, unethical, immoral, illegal, self-serving behavior is rampant. From the USA to North Korea, it seems few countries are immune to the self-enriching predations of the “one-percenters”. So how should we react to the news that the jobless, student, twenty-something year-old child of an ageing African dictator threw down €500,000 on a charity bid just so he could be photographed alongside some Hollywood stars like Will Smith? Before you yawn and turn the page, consider this. While this pampered princeling was quaffing champagne at the AMFAR gala in Cannes, dozens of his fellow countrymen of all ages were dying unnecessarily for lack of the most basic medicine and medical equipment. That’s because his country’s oil wealth has been siphoned off year after year, leaving little in the state budget for […]

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Angola Travel Warning

Foreign nationals in the Angolan capital, Luanda, are being advised to take extra precautions after a recent spate of kidnappings.  The crime wave has prompted the United States to issue a security warning, highlighting what its Embassy in Luanda calls “developing crime trends”. In the past two months alone, Chinese, French, and Belgian nationals have been kidnapped by gunmen who demanded a ransom.  The victims were released unharmed within a few days once the ransom was paid.  The Angolan authorities suspect these crimes were all carried out by the same group and they have speculated that the recent murders of two Portuguese citizens may be linked to the kidnappings. According to the US Embassy in Luanda, the incidents revealed so far include the March 30 interception of a Lebanese-Belgian citizen driving near his home in the city centre, forcibly abducted by armed men but later released on payment of an […]

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The Cafunfo Witch Hunt

The diamond-mining region of the Lundas in Angola’s Northeast spews immense riches into the hands of a favoured few.  While this area is heavily controlled by private security and state intelligence, “traditional rulers” still hold significant sway in adjudicating and managing conflict amongst the majority Lunda-Tchokwe ethnic group, guided by a system of animist beliefs (Kimbanda). In this they are advised by high priests (Kimbandeiros) who, as interpreters of orally transmitted beliefs and guardians of knowledge, operate both as diviners and healers. Angola’s government acknowledges these customary leaders and healers, exercising indirect supervision over them through local committees of the ruling MPLA (Peoples Movement for the Liberation of Angola).  For the most part, these civil and customary systems co-exist peacefully, but from time to time they collide; sometimes violently. Such was the case in Cafunfo last month.  Extreme poverty and high levels of infant mortality have resulted in desperate villagers […]

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The War on Social Media and the Trial of Activists

Following the president’s outline of his war on social media, Judge Januário Domingos is making history by being the first to hear a case of a political joke on Facebook that has displeased the regime. Yesterday, the judge of the Luanda Provincial Court questioned a Catholic priest, Father Jacinto Pio Wakussanga, for being part of an imaginary government, generated in a playful Facebook discussion, as the head of the National Electoral Commission. In court, the priest told the judge that he had heard through social media about this imaginary government and thought it was just a joke. Last May, a lawyer Albano Pedro set up an open online forum on his Facebook page to entice discussants to come up with names for what would be an ideal government of national salvation. The leader of the millennial religious sect “The Light of the Day”, José Julino Kalupeteka, who has been in […]

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Isabel dos Santos, the Princess-President?

I have never been taken in with fables. One such fairytale it that the current vice-president of Angola, Manuel Vicente, would succeed President José Eduardo dos Santos, who has been in power for 36 years. I always believed that the power would be eventually transferred to the son-prince José Filomeno dos Santos, whom the father appointed as head of Angola’s Sovereign Wealth Fund. What did I see recently? The daughter-princess Isabel dos Santos was posing next to Nicki Minaj the US rapper of Anaconda fame. What business does this billionaire egg vendor, as Isabel once claimed to have been, have to do there? This is a kind of exposure that does not benefit her image as a manager or businesswoman. In any case, President Dos Santos recently appointed his billionaire daughter to lead the Luanda Metropolitan Master Plan, to revamp the capital city. The father gave a seat to the […]

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Welcome to Angola, Nicki Minaj

Dear Nicki, I welcome you to Angola. I am a journalist and human rights defender who has been at the forefront of exposing the dictatorial ills of the regime, whose first daughter and princess of state-looting, Isabel dos Santos, is your host. Moments ago I received a message on my cell phone, from an UNITEL operator  offering me a ticket to your concert tomorrow with the purchase of a 900 kwanzas (US $4.50) phone credit. That is for your concert “for the people” in the Coqueiros Stadium, with a capacity of 20,000 people.  UNITEL is the company jointly owned by Isabel dos Santos and the Angolan state, which is paying your fees. In spite of all the advertising campaigns undertaken by UNITEL to promote your concert “for the people”, sales have been in a slump. At 900 kwanzas per ticket, the concert is basically free, yet people are still not […]

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Kenyan and Angolan Journalists Awarded Prize for Integrity

Two African journalists known for exposing corruption in their respective countries of Kenya and Angola have been named the joint recipients of the 2015 Allard Prize for International Integrity. The Peter A. Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia presented John Githongo and Rafael Marques de Morais with the Allard Prize at a special ceremony last night. The $100,000 prize is one of the world’s largest awards recognizing efforts to combat corruption and to promote human rights. As joint recipients, Mr. Githongo and Mr. Marques de Morais were each awarded $50,000 for their brave efforts in protecting human rights and fighting corruption. “It is a singular honour and a humbling experience to be selected for the Allard Prize,” says Mr. Githongo. “This recognition serves as an encouragement and as an important recognition that there is across the world a partnership between all people who care about human […]

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Crisis in Angola Could Free Social Conscience and Lead to Change

A few days ago a lawyer was complaining over dinner about the lack of official information on the economic crisis in Angola. She felt the government, or rather the president, ought to keep society informed about how the crisis is to be managed and dealt with. The conversation reminded us how Angolans need to reflect on current realities and become more aware of the disarray in which our society finds itself at the moment. For the first time in the history of independent Angola, all the political parties are ideologically feeble and incapable of imposing their vision of Angola onto society. But this means that also for the first time, Angolans have the opportunity to exercise citizenship rather than party-political activism. The middle level For the first time in many years, the economic crisis is starting to affect an important sector of the population. This is the middle level – […]

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Meeting in Solidarity with 15 Political Prisoners in Angola

Radio Despertar and human rights defender Rafael Marques are organising a meeting in Luanda in solidarity with political prisoners and victims of political intolerance, on 12 September 2015. Supporters across Angola and throughout the world will be able to follow the event on social media. The meeting will take place from 10 am until 1 pm, at the at the Sovsmo conference centre next to Radio Despertar’s premises in Viana. The meeting welcomes people from all sectors of civil society, activists, religious groupings, political parties, artists and all citizens committed to freedom, human rights, justice and the spiritual well being of the Angolan people. The meeting aims to build public solidarity with the 15 political prisoners who have been arbitrarily accused of preparing a coup against President José Eduardo dos Santos. This solidarity will also extend to the activist José Mavungo in Cabinda, who is on trial accused of attempting […]

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