The rise of Angola’s economy 2014 | VPRO Documentary

Bram Vermeulen visits Angola, one of the fastest growing economies in the world. In this former Portuguese colony, so much money is being earned that the Portuguese are fleeing the crisis in their own country to seek their luck in Angola.

Portugal sighs under towering unemployment, but in the meantime the economy of Angola – where people speak Portuguese – grows like cabbage. Many Portuguese people therefore come to the African country in recent years to work there. Among these guest workers are so-called ‘retornados’ – people of Portuguese origin who fled the country in haste around 1975 and now find a radically different Angola than they had left behind at the time.

Not everyone fled. Bram visits an old woman who saw her farm destroyed three times in the civil war. He has always been rebuilt. Her younger sister-in-law grew up here, but fled to Portugal in 1976. “Only very brave people stayed here in the jungle. Young people, like my cousins and I, went away. ” The war was very violent, she says, and furthermore, further study in Angola has become impossible.

It was not really quiet in the years before, because that war started as a twelve-year struggle for independence. After independence, the violence went seamlessly into a 30-year civil war. This has been over since 2002 and the economy has ended up in a grove. There are now rich Angolans, such as the young woman who visits Bram in her huge house in Luanda. A Portuguese designer is busy perfecting the interior.

The guest workers are very welcome here, she says, because they come to work and create new jobs because of the knowledge they bring. She is optimistic about the new Angola. In the practice of the less wealthy, such as Fundulu the fixer, there is still a lot to improve. Flowing water in the house would be nice, and reliable electricity. He tells this while he maneuvers a car through the chaotic traffic in Luanda. A less patient person could also jump out of his skin. Bram would not be able to save it here, he thinks.

The Portuguese designer also had some trouble with things like this at first. He noticed the enormous gap between rich and poor. But it does have advantages for his work: his customers are so rich that he can fully enjoy himself in the interior design.

The reconstruction of Angola is largely carried out by foreign companies. Not only in Luanda, but also in the city of Kuito, in the middle of the country. Immediately after the war there were only ruins there, says the mayor. A ghost town, with parks full of graves. The dead are now gone and new housing blocks are building up. Partly built by Portuguese contractors, who can not find any jobs in their own country.

Director: Doke Romeijn et Stefanie de Brouwer
October 2014

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