In this blogposting…
* Ellie’s New Year Quotes
* The World - A Truckshunter Geography:  Angola
Go ahead - pick the bones out of this lot….

Thanks to Ellie for sending me these quotes for us to start the New Year on.

I had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue: - 'No good in a bed, but fine against a wall.'
Eleanor Roosevelt 

The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending; and to have the two as close together as possible.
George Burns

Santa Claus has the right idea. Visit people only once a year.
Victor Borge

My wife has a slight impediment in her speech. Every now and then she stops to breathe.
Jimmy Durante

I have never hated a man enough to give his diamonds back.
Zsa Zsa Gabor

Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups: alcohol, caffeine, sugar and fat.
Alex Levine
My luck is so bad that if I bought a cemetery, people would stop dying.
Rodney Dangerfield
Money can't buy you happiness .... But it does bring you a more pleasant form of misery.
Spike Milligan
I never drink water because of the disgusting things that fish do in it.
W C Fields
Don't worry about avoiding temptation.  As you grow older, it will avoid you.
Winston Churchill
Maybe it's true that life begins at fifty .. But everything else starts to wear out, fall out, or spread out.
Phyllis Diller
By the time a man is wise enough to watch his step, he's too old to go anywhere.
Billy Crystal

And the cardiologist' s diet - If it tastes good spit it out.


Africa is littered with the unhappy remnants of European imperialism.  Many of the states created by white settlers during their age of African empire-building have been in conflict and turmoil for decades and even longer.  The continent is strewn with brutal dictatorships and savage civil wars, often made much worse by drought and famine.

Although the British must bear a fair share of the responsibility for this African malaise - especially for its involvement with the slave trade - other European countries behaved as badly or worse.  As we have already seen in Algeria, the French were not above brutal conquests and Belgium treated the ‘Belgian Congo’ (as it then was) as a storehouse of exploitable resources, including (of course) human beings.

It was from Europe’s African colonies that slaves were exported to the Americas in unbelievable numbers - almost 7 million in the 19th century alone.

And the worst offender by far was Portugal, which easily outranked its competitors as Europe’s most infamous slave-trading nation (followed by Britain, France, Spain and the Netherlands.)

Angola (known for decades as Portuguese West Africa) had by far the largest slave ‘factories‘ in Africa, supplying 40% of all the slaves who were shipped across the Atlantic.  In 1800, 88% of its income derived from the slave trade.  Most slaves ended up in Brazil but huge numbers landed in the West Indies (on either British, French or Spanish islands) or in the USA.

On reaching the Americas, most slaves were held in ‘seasoning camps‘ for a year, where they were ‘broken’.  A third of them died there, but the remainder could be sold at a 50% premium…

With a historical background as grim as this, it’s perhaps hardly surprising that Angola’s torment has continued almost to the present day.  Its dictator - Jonas Savimbi - only relinquished power (after a 27-year civil war) when he was assassinated under a hail of bullets in 2002 and it’s estimated that, until just a couple of years ago, there were more landmines than children in Angola.

This must be one of the few countries in the world where the application of typical truckshunter flippancy and waywardness would be intolerably tasteless.

But there is always more to a nation than its history.  Perhaps Angolans themselves may also resent their present state being so heavily overlaid with the horrors of its past.
The amazing Kalandula Falls 

They would say rather that Angola is big (England would fit into it 12 times) and beautiful, with mountains, deserts, national parks with burgeoning wildlife and - according to many reports I’ve seen - some of the world’s best beaches, many of which seem to go on forever.

Its National Plant is an eye-catcher, too - the gigantic welwitschia, which grows only here and in neighbouring Namibia and which botanists consider to be a living fossil (according to a truckshunter researcher).
Welwitschia mirabilis

Oddly, Angola also possesses the world’s most expensive city - its capital, Luanda.  According to the same researcher, a small flat costs £1.3m to buy or £5,000 a month to rent, car hire costs £350 a day and an average burger (should you require one) costs £10.
Perhaps it would be better to dig into some calulu de peixe (fish stew) and wash it down with galaos (white coffee; Angola is one of the world’s largest producers of coffee).

And don’t forget to smile a lot.  Another researcher tells me that Angolans are the smiliest, danciest, partyest people in Africa, bursting into a traditional kizomba at the slightest excuse.
The Benguela railway

And they may have much to smile about, after all.  Angola is rich in natural resources - mostly oil and diamonds - and tourism is booming.  Surfers are flocking to the rich Atlantic swells, people are queueing up to ride the amazing Benguela railway and carnival time in Luanda is said to be the happiest in all of Africa.

There’s even more than meets the eye to its National Anthem.

O Fatherland, we shall never forget
The heroes of the Fourth of February.
O Fatherland, we salute your sons
Who died for our Independence.
We honour the past and our history
As by our work we build the New Man.

Let us raise our liberated voices
To the glory of the peoples of Africa.
We shall march, Angolan fighters,
In solidarity with oppressed peoples.
We shall fight proudly for Peace
Along with the progressive forces of the world.

The courageous reference to its unspeakable history, and the selfless solidarity in the second verse, are not normal in National Anthems of previously oppressed and enslaved peoples, although this could be because it was written by a Portuguese settler.

Angola’s problems are not over.  It still awaits its first democratic elections.  And ‘green monkey disease’ (which killed 300 people in 2005) is still endemic.

Happily, though, it seems that all an outsider needs to do is squander a few kwanza on a beer or two, smile broadly and say Tudo bom? (‘how’s things?’) and he will be welcomed into the dance…


A very big Thankyou to the truckshunter researchers who unearthed much of the information I have used here.

The job continues.  Our next port-of-call is Antigua and Barbuda, which means we’ll be turning a blind eye to Antarctica (which is not a country) and Anguilla (which is a British Crown Dependency).


Post comments on this blog or email me:  truckshunters@googlemail.com

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