Chad Repaying $100m Debt to Angola with Cattle

African Cows

I just learned of Chad repaying its $100 million debt to Angola with … cattle, and I simply loved the idea! When you are plagued with a slave currency such as the FCFA, why not go back to the old ways of exchange and trading? Chad owed Angola money, Angola needed cattle, Chad provided the cattle to clear its debt, and now both countries are squared: everyone is happy! Isn’t it the way the world works anyway: you need something, I supply it, and you pay me back by supplying me with the goods you have. Enjoy this article from the BBC!


Map of Chad (Source: Lonely Planet)

Chad is repaying Angola a debt of $100m (£82m) with cattle, Angola’s state-run newspaper has reported.

The unusual agreement is seen as creating a win-win situation for both nations – Chad is short of cash while Angola needs cattle.

More than 1,000 cows arrived by ship in Angola’s capital, Luanda, as the first payment, Jornal de Angola reported.

In total, Angola would receive 75,000 cattle over 10 years, meaning it has accepted payment of $1,333 per animal.

Chad would send a further 3,500 head of cattle later this month, the report added.

Chad-Angola Cattle trade
The cattle trade between Chad and Angola

Chad had proposed repaying the 2017 debt with cattle, and Angola had agreed because it would help the southern African state rebuild its cattle population in drought-affected areas, the state-run daily paper said.

Angola is often hit by drought, causing animals to die of hunger and thirst and leaving many villagers destitute.

… Chad is described by the the World Health Organisation of Animal Health (OIE) as a “livestock farming country par excellence”, with about 94 million head of cattle. 


Why the Name: Huambo?

Map of Angola

As you travel around Africa, have you ever wondered about the name of the second largest city of Angola, Huambo ?

Previously called Nova Lisboa (New Lisbon) after the capital of Portugal, Huambo got its name from Wambu, one of the 14 old Ovimbundu kingdoms of the central Angolan plateau. The Ovimbundu, an old tribe of Angola, which originally arrived from Eastern Africa, had founded their central kingdom of Bailundu as early as the 15th century. Wambu was one of the smaller kingdoms and was hierarchically under the King of Bailundu, though it enjoyed, as the other kingdoms, a considerable degree of independence.

The House of the Governor in Huambo (Source: Wikipedia)

Situated in the Angolan central highlands, Huambo is located near the headwaters of the Kunene River. It was founded in 1912 by Portuguese colons and was called Nova Lisboa until 1975, when it resumed its name of Huambo. It is located 600 km southeast of the capital Luanda, and 220 km east of Benguela; it is at high altitude, on a plateau 1800 m above sea level. Huambo is a main hub on the Caminho de Ferro de Benguela (CFB) (the Benguela Railway), which runs from the port of Lobito in Angola, to the Democratic Republic of the Congo‘s southernmost province, Katanga. It is the second industrial city of the country, and a big agricultural center.

If you ever visit Huambo, as you tour its neighborhoods, and get on the Caminho de Ferro de Benguela, remember that it was once an old Ovimbundu kingdom, Wambu, and reconnect with the feel of this ancient kingdom!

Why the Name: Luanda?

Map of Angola
Map of Angola

I often wondered where the name of Luanda, the capital and largest city of Angola, came from. After the African Cup of Nations was organized in Angola in 2010, I had started thinking about it: was it a Kimbundu word, or Umbundu, or Kikongo? or did it have Portuguese roots?

Map of Luanda in the 1700s
Map of Luanda in the 1700s

Well, it turns out that, on 25 January 1576, Portuguese explorer Paulo Dias de Novais founded Luanda under the name of “São Paulo da Assumpção de Loanda”.  When he arrived on the Ilha do Cabo (Cape Island), he found an indigenous population, the Axi-Iwanda people, a subgroup of the Ambundu people which were tributary to the Kongo Empire.  The island was an important location to collect zimbo, shells used as currency by the Kongo king before the arrival of Portuguese in the area. Novais established a Portuguese settlement of about 700 people: 350 soldiers, missionaries, merchants, and officials, and families, to first gain control of the currency, before establishing himself on the mainland, opposite the island. They started to use the name of the Axi-Iwanda inhabitants as a name for the island and the town, spelling it first “Loanda, then “Luanda“.

Queen Nzingha sitting on the back of her servant
Queen Nzingha sitting on the back of her servant, during her audience with the Portuguese governor in Luanda

In 1618, the Portuguese built the fortress of Fortaleza São Pedro da Barra, and they subsequently built two more in 1634 and 1765: Fortaleza de São Miguel and Forte de São Francisco do Penedo , respectively. Of these, the Fortaleza de São Miguel is the best preserved. In 1622, Queen Nzingha had an audience with the Portuguese governor in Luanda (this was before she became queen). The city of Luanda has been the administrative center of the colony of Angola since 1627, except from 1641 to 1648 when it was under the control of the Dutch Company of West Indies.  From 1550 to 1836, Luanda was an important center for slave trade to Brazil. When Angola became an actual Portuguese colony, the city was divided between white neighborhoods and indigenous ones, as was tradition in almost all European colonies. The white colonialists lived in huge villas with servants, while the local populations lived in huts. The majority of the local population present in Luanda were Ambundu and Bakongo.  The colonial army would constantly guard the entrance to the European neighborhoods.

View of Luanda in 1883
View of Luanda in 1883

After the slave trade was abolished in 1836, Angola’s ports were then opened to foreign shipping in 1844. By 1850, Luanda was one of the greatest and most developed Portuguese cities in the vast Portuguese Empire outside Continental Portugal, full of trading companies, exporting palm and peanut oil, wax, copal, timber, ivory, cotton, coffee, and cocoa, among many other products. Maize, tobacco, dried meat, and cassava flour were also produced locally. In 1889, Governor Brito Capelo inaugurated an aqueduct which supplied the city with water, laying the foundation for major growth. After the establishment of the republican regime in Portugal in 1910, colonialism entered a new phase. The new Portuguese government started building schools in Angola. The first high school, Liceu Central de Luanda, was created in 1919. During the authoritarian Estado Novo years, Luanda was also used as a penitentiary colony, used to host convicted criminals.

Agostinho Neto
Agostinho Neto, first president of Angola

A few months after independence from Portugal in 1975, with Agostinho Neto becoming Angola’s first president, civil war broke in the country when the city of Luanda was attacked by the FNLA forces supported by Portuguese mercenaries. This assault was pushed back by the governmental army (MPLA) supported by Cubans in the battle of Kifangondo. Throughout the years, the civil war forced many people across the country to seek refuge in Luanda. After the death of  Jonas Savimbi, UNITA‘s leader in 2002, a ceasefire was reached, and Angola finally arose from over 25 years of civil war.

Flag of Angola
Flag of Angola

Today, Luanda is the siege of the country’s principal companies: Angola Telecom, Unitel, Endiama, Sonangol, Linhas Aéreas de Angola, and Odebrecht Angola (Brazilian company). Back in 1972, it was already called the “Paris of Africa.” Manufacturing is big in the city. Petroleum found in nearby off-shore deposits is refined in the city. Luanda has an excellent natural harbor. The city also has a thriving building industry, an effect of the nationwide economic boom experienced since 2002, when political stability returned with the end of the civil war. Large investments, along with strong economic growth, have made Luanda one of the fastest growing cities of Africa, and of the world. Surrounded by beautiful beaches, and rich through its culture, Luanda is truly an African pearl. Please enjoy this video of one of the jewels of Africa, Luanda.

Agostinho Neto by Chinua Achebe

Agostinho Neto
Agostinho Neto

In remembrance of Agostinho Neto (Sept. 17 1922 – Sept. 10th 1979), great leader and first president of Angola, I will leave you with a poem written by the great Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe in honor of Agostinho Neto. Enjoy!!!



by Chinua Achebe

Agostinho, were you no more
Than the middle one favored by fortune
In children’s riddle; Kwame
Striding ahead to accost
Demons; behind you a laggard third
As yet unnamed, of twisted fingers?

No! Your secure strides
Were hard earned. Your feet
Learned their fierce balance
In violent slopes of humiliation;
Your delicate hands, patiently
Groomed for finest incisions,
Were commandeered brusquely to kill,
Your gentle voice to battle-cry.

Perhaps your family and friends
Knew a merry flash cracking the gloom
We see in pictures but I prefer
And will keep that sorrowful legend.
For I have seen how
Half a millennium of alien rape
And murder can stamp a smile
On the vacant face of the fool,
The sinister grin of Africa’s idiot-kings
Who oversee in obscene palaces of gold
The butchery of their own people.

Neto, I sing your passing, I,
Timid requisitioner of your vast
Armory’s most congenial supply.
What shall I sing? A dirge answering
The gloom? No, I will sing tearful songs
Of joy; I will celebrate
The man who rode a trinity
Of awesome fates to the cause
Of our trampled race!
Thou Healer, Soldier and Poet!

Agostinho Neto: doctor, poet, president, and father of Angolan independence

Agostinho Neto
Agostinho Neto

Agostinho Neto was the first president of Angola, and served from 1975 to his death in 1979. He was born in a Methodist family (his father was a Methodist pastor), attended high school in Luanda, and studied medicine in Lisbon (specializing in gynecology).  In Lisbon, he befriended future political leaders such as Amilcar Cabral (Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde) and Marcelino dos Santos (Mozambique). He combined his academic life with covert political activities.

In 1948 he published his first volume of poetry and was arrested for the first time. There followed a series of arrests and detention, which interrupted his studies. He joined the Movimento Popular da Libertação de Angola (MPLA, People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola) when it formed in 1956. He was released from detention and allowed to complete his studies in 1958, retuning shortly afterwards to Angola (1959), where he set up a private medical practice.

Flag of Angola
Flag of Angola

On 6 June 1960, Agostinho Neto was arrested at his practice as a result of his campaigning against the Portuguese colonial administration of Angola. When patients, friends, and supporters marched in demonstration for his release, the police opened fire and 30 were killed, 200 more injured.  This became known as the Massacre de Icolo e Bengo (his birthplace). Neto was exiled to and held in captivity initially in Cape Verde and then in Portugal, where he wrote his second volume of poetry. After international pressures, the Portuguese government put him under house arrest, where he escaped to Morocco and later to Zaire (Congo).

He became president of the MPLA in 1962, and looked for support in the American government against Portugal, but was turned down. He received the support of Cuba and the Soviet Union for the fight for the freedom of the people of Angola from Portuguese imperialism.

After the Revolução dos Cravos (Carnation Revolution) in 1974 in Portugal, which took down the government by a military coup, Portugal’s foreign policy changed in its African colonies. On 11 November 1975, Angola became independent, and Neto was proclaimed president on that day. The country was effectively held under the rule of three independence movements, with the MPLA holding the central section and the capital.

Agostinho Neto & Jose Eduardo dos Santos
Agostinho Neto & Jose Eduardo dos Santos

Neto’s rule was marked by armed conflict with Holden Roberto’s FNLA (supported by Mobutu of Zaire, and the US) and Jonas Savimbi‘s UNITA which had military support from South Africa. While Neto enjoyed the help and support of the Soviet Union and Cuba, he still encouraged Western investment in the country – especially in oil production. He died of cancer on September 10th, 1979 in Moscow.  After his death, the civil war in Angola lasted for over a quarter of a century opposing Jose Eduardo dos Santos (his successor) and Jonas Savimbi.

Agostinho Neto was not only Angola’s first president, he was also a medical doctor, and a poet; he is actually one of Angola’s most acclaimed writer and poet. Please check out the website of the Fundação António Agostinho Neto, which has done a brilliant work in presenting Neto’s writings, debates, and comments by other leaders on Neto. Now I leave you with his great saying: “A luta Continua … A Vitória é certa!”