During those last couple of years I was close to consider myself as a frequent transatlantic flyer from the Lisbon’s TAP airlines hub. Be it Brazil, be it Madeira, be it any South American destination, Lisbon has been just a good connection point from the Iberian Peninsula, not as crowded as Madrid Barajas and offering very interesting direct connections with the South American and African continent.
The idea for this first within the series of posts is generated by my curiosity about the cross-Atlantic influences between the postcolonial Portuguese-speaking countries. This one would be about the Angolan presence in a modern-time Portugal and Brazil.
When living in Lisbon, my attention was not only attracted by the local culture, but rather by the overwhelmingly rich mix of the Afrolusobrasilian influences. This is where I learned my first kizomba steps, and where I discovered some underground places in Bairro Alto serving kuduro music as their main dish. Back in the day, 2008/2009-ish kuduro became a world’s electronic music fetish, as well, so I had a feeling I am in the centre of the world.
The most famous kuduro team, Buraka Som Sistema dedicated quite a lot of their tracks to describe the Angolan presence in Lisbon, with the anthem ‘Luanda Lisboa’
Angolan influence is also very visible in the Bahian culture of Brazil, with the richness of the Candomblé religion. For instance, in the 70s, a lot of MPB artists, such as Claudia with her ‘Ossain’, performed their songs based on the traditional lyrics, chants and traditions of this religion:
However, since the difficult crisis years commenced in Portugal, well, in all the Southern Europe in general, the migration tendencies seem to change. Each day several planes leave at least Lisbon’s airport in the Luanda’s direction. Not only the 2nd or even 3rd generation of the Angolan descendents in Portugal search for their professional careers in this African land of promise, but also the Portuguese and the Brazilians. Luanda nowadays is one of the most expensive cities to live in, but the salaries for the expatriates and contracted high-level employees seem to be also one of the most attractive in the world.
I did not have a chance to travel to Angola so far. However, I feel very tempted to do so given its rich culture and complex history. Still, unstable politics, striking inequalities in the distribution of goods seem to be a pain in the neck for a daily life of the Angolans. I hope to get back with some more insightful post shortly, maybe when I finally book the trip: Lisboa – Luanda…
Bairro Alto – a neighbourhood in Lisbon famous for cosy bars and small underground cultures clubs, a night life centre of the city
kuduro – is a type of music and dance originally developed in Angola in the 1980s, became popular worldwide around 2008, given the ‘dubstep-related’ trends
kizomba – ‘Angolan salsa’, a popular music and dance style in Angola, and increasingly in Portugal and equally in some other Western European countries, such as in France or the UK
Candomblé – animistic religion brought to Brazil from the Western African tribes (mostly: Yoruba)
Ossain – a symbol within the Candomblé religion