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INSIDE AFRICA: Angola: Road to Recovery

Aired July 10, 2004 - 12:00   ET


TUMI MAKGABO, CNN ANCHOR (voice over): On the road to recovery, Angola, two years after the end of nearly three decades of war. An in- depth look at the country's long march to recovery, beginning with a heated debate over the timetable for the first postwar elections.

We'll look at efforts to help thousands of refugees resettle as they make the long journey back home.

Also, what's being done to change the status of what was once the most heavily-mined country in the world?

Then, a conversation with President Jos‚ Eduardo dos Santos.

That's Angola on the "Road to Recovery" on this special edition of INSIDE AFRICA.


MAKGABO: Hello, and welcome to this special edition of INSIDE AFRICA. I'm Tumi Makgabo in Luanda, Angola.

For generations of people in this country, you can barely remember a time without an armed conflict here. But that all changed in 2002 when rebel leader Jonas Savimbi was killed. Months later, a truce was signed and the guns silenced. Two years on, that peace is holding, and reconstruction is under way.

So, join us as we explore the process that is Angola's "Road to Recovery."

There is consensus that somehow Angola has to remake itself and emerge from the ravages of nearly 30 years of war. Just how to do that remains the question. Many here agree that first there has to be an election, arguing that the current administration does not have the people's mandate.


MAKGABO (voice over): Former government soldiers enjoying a morning of football in the eastern Angolan town of Luena. Mostly illiterate and unemployed, many of them are recovering alcoholics looking for a second chance at life.

ANITA KELLER, SPORTS FOR LIFE: We try to use sports as a tool to get people back to the physical and emotional state, where they'd be ready to enter into a job training program or to school.

MAKGABO: And their lives depend on the Sports for Life program. Having spent nearly a lifetime on the battlefront, they lack basic training and the social skills to reintegrate into society. Their story represents only a fraction of the multiple problems this country faces on its long way to recovery.

The scars of war are everywhere -- more than 80,000 landmine victims, nearly 4 million displaced people and a staggering unemployment rate.

In the chambers of the National Assembly, the men and women charged with charting the course of reconstruction are gathering for a regular session. In the eyes of some, they represent the symbol of Angola's political unity, signs of how times have changed here.

Working together are representatives of the ruling MPLA and the opposition UNITA movement, the two groups that led the vicious war that tore this country apart. There are diverse opinions here on how to solve the nation's problems, but perhaps the most contentious issue now is the timetable for the first postwar elections, something that's dividing not only the National Assembly but the greater Angolan society.

When the warring parties signed a final peace deal in 2002, there were high hopes that it would usher in a new era of democracy in the country, beginning with elections in 2004 or 2005. But two years later, there has been no date set for the elections. And the former rebel movement, UNITA, now the main opposition party, accuses the government of stalling.

ISAIAS SAMAKUVA, UNITA LEADER: I would say that the democratic process in this country is going very slowly.

MAKGABO: The government says a new constitution must be drafted before elections can be held, but a commission set up to prepare the document is facing a crisis itself. UNITA and other opposition parties in the commission have suspended their participation, accusing the government of using the debate over the constitution as a ploy to further delay the democratic process.

SAMAKUVA: We suspended because we think that these revisions of the constitution is not moving. Apart from that, we can see that this work is being used as an obstacle to hold elections.

MAKGABO: Local pressure groups here insist that the elections should be held under the current constitution. The Reverend Daniel Ntoni Nzinga represents the Inter-Ecclesiastic Committee for Peace, one of the leading pro-democracy organizations in the country.

DANIEL NTONI, INTER-ECCLESIASTIC COMMITTEE: It is crucial for the elections to be held not necessarily, and that the new constitution that has not come yet, because they are governing the country on the basis of the present constitution, and it's not that bad.

MAKGABO: The current constitution was amended in 1992 to pave the way for the country's first multiparty elections. The National Assembly, which came about as the result of those polls, was supposed to further review the constitution and make more amendments. But that review never got off the ground, as the war resumed just months after the elections.

So, the ruling MPLA insists that the current constitution is a provisional document.

KWATA KANAWA, MPLA SPOKESPERSON (through translator): It means that if we didn't have the war, the National Assembly should have done the new constitution. Because of the war we didn't have elections after 1992. Now, we understand that as the law states, this assembly will have to prepare the next constitution.

MAKGABO: Critics say the government is determined to hang onto power; thus, creating a legacy of centralized authoritarian governments that have left a vast majority of Angolans disenfranchised.

An atmosphere of fear exists in the capital, Luanda, and human rights activists say political violence is on the rise. One opposition party blames the government for the assassination of one of its leaders in late June.

Mfulumpinga Lando Victor, a leading critic of the government, was shot dead as he left his party's headquarters in Luanda. The government denies any involvement in his killing, and President dos Santos is pledging tough action against what he calls the authors of the barbaric murder of Victor.

Certainly it would seem that something has to change here. The United Nations once described Angola as the worst place on Earth for a child to be born. And Angolans seem determined to shake off that image, but observers here say it will take more than elections to secure a brighter future for Angola's children.


Well, while the politicians debate the timing of the next election, other Angolans are more concerned with mending their tattered lives. Many have spent years living in refugee camps in neighboring countries, really at the mercy of international donors. But with peace seemingly here to stay, thousands are now headed home.


MAKGABO (voice over): As the fighting in Angola's civil war engulfed the country's rural areas, thousands living there were forced to flee for their lives. Bringing only what they could carry, they escaped through the country's porous borders into neighboring Zambia and Democratic Republic of Congo.

Today, Angola's refugees are returning home to once-deserted towns like Cazombo near the Zambian border. It's here that the United Nations World Food Program, the WFP, set up this reception center. It's one of the largest transit points in the country, all part of efforts to resettle some 90,000 people in 2004 alone.

Despite the amount of activity in the area, Cazombo is still isolated, essentially cut off from the rest of the country.

This bridge over the Zambezi River was for years the only road link between the town and other parts of Angola. It was destroyed by the rebel UNITA movement in 1984 and the surrounding area heavily mined. Now, the only way to get to Cazombo is by canoe across the river or by air.

But most of those in Cazombo today come from Zambia. They chose to be resettled here before leaving their respective refugee camps, and must now begin the arduous task of rebuilding their lives. The first stage in that process is a short stay in the reception center. The one in Cazombo houses a maximum 1,500 returnees. They're given food and shelter here for up to two weeks.

But it's difficult to imagine how this can prepare one for the next phase, in which a family is given food rations and tools, and then assigned a small piece of land in a nearby village. These provisions are the first in a year-long supply that will sustain them for one harvesting season, and then they're on their own.

Outside their makeshift home, Loysa Mutando (ph) and her husband, Noah Congolesh (ph), are frustrated. They came back in 2003 after spending 18 years in Zambia. They say they are struggling to feed themselves and thought it best to leave their three children as refugees in Zambia so they can continue their schooling there.

Loysa (ph) says she and her husband stopped receiving food aid from the WFP a month ago. And even though they are working their land, the only way they can survive is by selling wood at the nearby town market.

A little further down the road we meet Musogi Kahemba (ph). She's only been back for a week and says so far things have been going well. She admits it may be tougher here than in the refugee camp in Zambia, but at least she's back home.

Loysa (ph) and Musogi (ph) are just two of the residents in Mupachi (ph) locality, which is just a few minutes' drive from Cazombo. Officials here are not sure how many people in all live in the locality, but what little they have they must share, including the community's two small schools, which the 130 students must attend in shifts.

PEDRO MUSSOLNE AGUSTINO, COORDINATOR, LITERACY PROGRAM (through translator): They go from 2:00 until half-past. In the morning, the adults go the camps and work, and that is when the children come to classes. The adults come to classes in the afternoon.

MAKGABO: Even though there is frustration expressed about help what people here receive from the WFP, the U.N. itself says there is only so much it can do with the money it has.

RICK CORSINO, WFP COUNTRY DIRECTOR: One of the incentives to allow the refugees in the neighboring countries to Angola to come back is provision of food. And since April this year, our resources have diminished to the point where we've had to cut back rations to most of the people who had been our beneficiaries prior to this.

MAKGABO: Corsino says he, too, is trying to understand why the money from donors is only trickling in.

CORSINO: I suspect there are other emergencies in the world that are taking some of the resources that maybe we would have gotten otherwise. There could be some element of concern by the donors that the emergency in this country is over, and that war has been -- the war completed two years ago, there have been two years of peace, and they would probably believe that the country is able to start functioning on its own without the vast contributions of foreign aid that it received.

MAKGABO: The WFP says it needs another $36 million by September this year in order to continue providing food aid here. Meanwhile, the returnees keep coming and the food supplies keep dwindling.


MAKGABO: And when INSIDE AFRICA continues, we'll be taking a closer look at how those in the rural areas are dealing with landmines as they try to rebuild. Don't go away.


MAKGABO: Welcome back to this special edition of INSIDE AFRICA from Luanda, Angola.

When the war ended, many refugees began returning to the country only to find that their homes were no longer the same. The farmlands surrounding the villages in which they had once lived were littered with landmines, and de-mining those areas have become a major part of the recovery.


MAKGABO (voice over): A landmine victim being fitted for an artificial limb.

RONALD DOORTEN, VIETNAM VETERANS FDN: So, we cast him first, and then we fill it up with plaster. And that's done here. You see the mold that Salmeni (ph) is taking at the moment. This is filled with plaster. Then we take the plaster bandages off and it becomes (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

MAKGABO: This tiny prosthesis manufacturing center in the heart of Luena in Angola's Moshiko (ph) province caters to landmine victims in this area, and there is no shortage of patients. The lands in Luena and surrounding towns were heavily-mined during the war.

Explosions like this occur often, and some refugees resettling here have become unfortunate victims in their quest to remake their lives, like 15-year-old Antonio who lost his right leg in February. Antonio and his siblings were fetching water in this area when he stepped on a mine.

"I was so scared when I looked down and realized my leg was gone," he tells me. "My friends no longer play with me because I am crippled," Antonio adds in tears.

His father is also a landmine victim, his leg lost during the war. But both Antonio and his dad still travel this land in search of food for the family.

Like many returnees, they must forage to survive. And so, the Norwegian People's Aid, or NPA, is working to clear the area for farming. It's a tedious and risky process. The workers here are locals who train for a month before getting into the field.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, he's checking it again if there will be a wire. He must do this slowly because if there are mines connected with a wire (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

MAKGABO: Each worker clears about 25 to 50 square meters a day. Then it's on to heavy machinery, a specially-made truck that plows the ground detonating tiny landmines that may be buried beneath it.

Potential trouble spots are cordoned off and warning signs posted. Many of the mines found in these fields come from former Soviet Bloc countries.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a collection of mines, 72 from the Soviet Union. We have 75 from Romania.

MAKGABO (on camera): This piece of land that I'm standing on is approximately 500,000 square meters big. In January of 2004, it was riddled with landmines. Some six months later, about 400,000 -- in fact, just a little more than that -- have been cleared, which means that hopefully by August, 54 families will be able to begin cultivating this land. However, while they wait for that time, daily survival remains a challenge.

(voice over): Many families in this village are no longer receiving food rations from the World Food Program, or the WFP. Upon their return to this area, the WFP supplied them for a year. The organization also provides farming tools and seeds to families to help them become self- sufficient. But with the land not yet ready to be cultivated, many here risk their lives, searching mine-filled fields to provide for their families.

This festive-looking scene is a mine education session sponsored by MPA. This dance troupe travels from village to village, attracting huge crowds to the stage plays that highlight the danger of landmines.

The colorful charts are designed to get people's attention, especially the young children who often mistake attractive-looking mines for toys. And their tactic seems to be working. The last mine accident in this area was five months ago.

In a small way, this process is helping to minimize the deadly effect of landmines in Angola, a country once said to have more mines than people.

A London-based group, War Child International, calls Angola the heaviest-mined country in the world.

The United Nations is helping by also taking mine education to its refugee reception centers, trying to prepare returnees for the dangers they may face in their villages, hoping that the unfortunate experience of Antonio may be one of the last for the children of Moshiko (ph) province.


And still ahead on the program, we'll take a look at efforts to rehabilitate the thousands of former UNITA fighters. Stay with us for that.


MAKGABO: Welcome back to Luanda, Angola.

For 27 years, thousands of men, and in some instances even boys, fought on the battlefront of this country's war against itself. They fought on both the sides of the ruling MPLA's army and the rebel UNITA movement.

For many of them, war is all they've known. And now that peace has come, they're having to relearn how to cope.


MAKGABO (voice over): They call this the Majestic, a once popular restaurant in Luanda, now rundown and barely suitable to provide shelter. But that's exactly its function today. This is home to 34 former UNITA fighters and their families.

Among them, Moisa Samuel (ph), his wife, Mariana Solome (ph), who is pregnant, and their five children. They all moved into this space beneath the stairs after Moisa (ph) stopped fighting and was demobilized in 2002. Since then, he's been struggling to feed his family, and relies mainly on what the former rebel-group-turned-opposition party, UNITA, can provide.

Moisa (ph) came to Luanda from Angola's Lunda Norte (ph) province in the north, hoping to find work and earn a living. The problem, according to the government, is that Moisa (ph) moved from the area he originally chose to settle in. And therefore, there are insufficient funds in Luanda to help him and others like him.

MARIA DA LUZ, VICE MINISTER, SOCIAL ASSISTANCE (through translator): We planned to receive these people in certain provinces the government has created for them to be integrated. But they are not going there. They are leaving for other provinces. So, that is why we are having problems.

MAKGABO: The vice minister says the government has allocated some $18 million just for the demobilization effort, but she points out that there is also some responsibility on the former fighters themselves.

DA LUZ (through translator): They have to give their contribution. They cannot expect everything. They are nurses, mechanics and bricklayers. They can contribute to building bridges and doing other social services. We are trying to help them prepare for the future. We are providing these opportunities for them.

MAKGABO: But that has not stemmed the flow of people into the capital. Located a short distance from the Majestic is UNITA's provincial headquarters, where former fighters come in search of financial and moral support.

Here, we met Lucas Kanangui Sqares. A UNITA general during the war, he's now officially unemployed. He makes a little money selling bottles of fresh water on the street, and hopes to eventually become a businessman. Sqares says he feels most disappointed by his own party, UNITA, while the government, in his view, has kept some of its promises.

LUCAS KANANGUI SQARES, FORMER UNITA GENERAL (through translator): From the government, we can see that they've responded to some few points of our needs. For instance, some of the fighters were given a transit center, where they could stay and wait for subsidies in order to restart their lives.

MAKGABO: Meanwhile, UNITA, or the national Union for the Total Independence of Angola, is itself grappling with making the transition from a guerrilla movement to a political party. Its charismatic founder and long-time leader, Jonas Savimbi, was killed by government troops in 2002, marking the beginning of the end of the war.

The at-times fractious party is still working hard to shed the image of a group that was held together by fear of its autocratic leader, but also to maintain the support of the demobilized.

Asked about what the party is doing for its former fighters, UNITA's new leader, Isaias Samakuva, points to the government.

SAMAKUVA: The responsibility of looking at citizens is not a party. It's the government. So, the party role here is actually to put pressure on the government in order to meet its responsibility. As a political party, how can I assist the health situation of those who are demobilized? How can I arrange their housing for them? How can I arrange school for their children? How can I arrange for their own food, daily life? This is a government responsibility, not our responsibility.

MAKGABO: But translating ideals into tangible policies and alternatives have not been easy. Samakuva admits that it's been a challenge to convince party followers that the leadership is also struggling.

SAMAKUVA: The perception is that the leader, who has a house where he lives, then is better off. But this is not my house. If today I lose this job, I don't have a house where to go. I don't have also means to put my children in school. So, my situation is not different.

MAKGABO: But this may be hard to sell to those back at the provincial headquarters. Lucas Sqares cannot help but remember the days when things were better and Savimbi was still alive.

SQARES (through translator): We are not benefiting from what we fought for. I think of the past. The situation was quite good for us while we were fighters. Now, we are not fighting. We have too many needs, basic needs, which are really complicating things for us.

MAKGABO: It seems for the time being, looking back remains more bearable than looking to the future.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The future is so dark, completely bad.


MAKGABO: Still to come on "Angola: The Road To Recovery," black gold and the wealth that could be. Stay with us.



MAKGABO: Welcome back to Luanda, Angola.

Rebuilding any country after nearly three decades of war is certainly no easy task. And from the outside looking in, Angola should have one advantage in the form of oil. In other words, money from the natural resource could fund the reconstruction effort.

But how that money should be dispensed is causing a lot of controversy in the country, and is also leading to allegations of human rights abuses in one province.


MAKGABO (voice over): This is the heart of Angola's oil industry, the Takula field discovered in 1971, four years before the country gained independence from Portugal.

From here, 198,000 barrels of oil are pumped to the shores each day, most of which are shipped to the United States. This platform is owned by U.S.-based ChevronTexaco.

Oil is the bedrock of the Angolan economy. The country has more than 10 billion barrels of proven oil reserves. ChevronTexaco dominates the market here, pumping 60 percent of Angola's oil.

IAN PARTRIDGE, CHEVRONTEXACO: We're one of four or five of the major oil companies that are deep-water operators. And of the deep-water business, we probably have about 20 percent of the potential, much of which is unharnessed at the moment.

MAKGABO: Chevron's 24-hour operation at Takula is run primarily by Angolans, with 97 percent of workers and 60 percent of management being locals. Some employees are flown in by helicopter, while others travel by boat. And they remain offshore for a three to four-week period. The platform is equipped with sleeping quarters to accommodate them.

Operations like this could make Angola one of the richest nations in Africa. Today, the country produces 965,000 barrels of oil a day. And the capacity could be increased to 1.6 million by 2006.

But Angola has little to show for its oil wealth. There are usually long lines at gasoline stations in the capital, Luanda, all of which are operated by the national oil company, Sonangol.

International rights groups say the country's oil revenue is not being used to benefit the people. A vast majority of Angolans, 70 to 80 percent, are unemployed. And the country remains one of the poorest in the world.

London-based Global Witness says between 1997 and 2002, more than $4 billion of the country's oil revenue remained unaccounted for.

The International Monetary Fund, the IMF, has been in the forefront of the campaign for greater transparency in Angola. Since 2001, the fund has sent several teams to the country, and insists that more than $4 billion of oil revenue remain missing.

But the country's vice oil minister insists that the government is cooperating with the fund.

ANIBAL SILVA, VICE OIL MINISTER: I think that the steps, the relation with the IMF now can show that we may be right before. That's why I think that this is a problem of just a misunderstanding about the numbers didn't match between IMF and our government.

MAKGABO: Yet, critics accuse the government of massive corruption, saying oil revenues are misappropriated, and some accuse the oil companies of encouraging it.

NZINGA: These big corporations are the ones who are corrupt, and not just because the lead Africans, or in the case of Angola, our leaders asked for a bribe, very often they are offered opportunity to be bribed.

PARTRIDGE: We certainly do deny any involvement in corruption. There have been increasing requests for scrutiny, transparency, and I'm glad to say that there has been certainly very recently a response to that.

MAKGABO: Partridge is referring to recent moves by the government to open its books to international scrutiny. Chevron recently signed a deal with the government extending the terms of one of its concessions. The government published details of the bonus it received from that deal.

Adding to the controversy over Angola's oil wealth are allegations of human rights abuses from the Cabinda Civic Association. Sixty percent of the oil produced in Angola comes from Cabinda, an enclave situated between the two Congos.

The Cabinda Civic Association says government troops consistently commit atrocities against the citizens of Cabinda in a low-level war that pits secessionists against the Angolan army. The chairman, Agostinho Chikaia, shows us pictures of alleged victims.

The government denies the allegations. In an interview with INSIDE AFRICA last year, Angola's ambassador to the U.S. said allegations of abuse in Cabinda always come as a surprise.

JOSEFINA PITRA DIAKITE, ANGOLAN AMBASSADOR TO U.S.: They have to surprise me, because, as I mentioned before, it doesn't -- I mean, it doesn't come from our culture.

MAKGABO: The Cabinda Civic Association also complains that the province is not benefiting from its oil, though activists say there is enough oil wealth in Cabinda to net each resident more than $100,000 a year.


MAKGABO: When INSIDE AFRICA continues, a conversation with President Jos‚ Eduardo dos Santos on oil, transparency and reconstruction. Don't go away.


MAKGABO: Hello again.

Jos‚ Eduardo dos Santos is Angola's second president. He's led the ruling MPLA since the death of President Agostinho Neto in 1979. Mr. dos Santos' critics accuse him of mismanaging Angola and of misusing the country's oil wealth.

Earlier this year, we met the president in Washington and asked him to respond to that criticism.


JOSE EDUARDO DOS SANTOS, ANGOLAN PRESIDENT (through translator): And the money that we receive from the oil income, as well as the bonus of the signing of the contracts, these are monies of the state. And the budget is, after all, though, adopted by parliament, which in the following year they executed that budget. So, all of the revenues from oil, they are used by the government in order to solve the problems of the society.

With regard to the revenues from the bonus and the contracts of oil, because of all of these rumors that have been going on with acceptance and the recommendation of the IMF, we've accepted oil diagnosis. And this oil diagnosis that was recommended by the IMF has already been made public, where all of the accounts for some years back now have been made public.

So, we accepted the principle of oil transparency as well as governance. It's in our interest also to carry out traditional management for the good of all of the society.

MAKGABO: Certainly, it is one thing to be in a position where there is a process of transparency, as you pointed out. However, one cannot deny that within your country there are still numerous people who are residents of Angola who want to stay in the country, who say that they don't see the benefits of any of this money that's coming in, of any of the revenues from this oil. What do you say to them?

DOS SANTOS (through translator): What I would say to them is that if we didn't have oil, if we did not apply these oil revenues in the correct manner, we could not maintain -- we could not pay the salaries of the civil servants. We could not maintain public schools. We could not maintain public hospitals. And I would say that 80 percent of the state budget comes from oil revenues.

MAKGABO: Without going into an extended debate about who said what, certainly a lot of criticism you will appreciate within your country people are having to deal with drought, people looking at a situation where they're returning to their country and they're encouraged perhaps to do so, they want to do so themselves. They're faced with land that is no longer arable. They're faced with land that is full of mines. And they're faced with the prospect of trying to make a beginning, literally, out of nothing.

Certainly the World Food Program is indicating that they are facing the possibility of running out of supplies to deal with that situation. What is your plan?

DOS SANTOS (through translator): I am not undermining the efforts of the peace, but however these are efforts that could (UNINTELLIGIBLE). However, something must be clear that these revenues from oil are not necessary in order to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) because of the war. Agriculture was still alive. Industry was working at less than 20 percent of its capacity. The war destroyed the bridges, hydro plants and power plants. Everything has to be redone. Harvesting has to be redone.

And we are doing it also within our means in which there is very little from the international community. The monies there are not sufficient. So, all Angolans know that they must work now that the war is over. We must improve our agriculture. We must create more wealth in order to distribute for everyone.

MAKGABO: Let's talk for a moment about your particular personal plans in what you're going to do for the future. Certainly, your timeframe at this point was that by -- or in 2005, you're going to hold elections. Is that still the case? Is that when it's going to happen? That's when it was meant to happen, we keep hearing.

DOS SANTOS (through translator): We are now creating the material, technical and legislative conditions to hold the elections. We feel that we need about two years in order to hold free and safe elections, transparent elections.

And so our target is to hold elections in 2005 or 2006, and the president will call for the elections when the National Assembly adopts or passes the legislative package for the elections.

MAKGABO: There is a sense perhaps among some of your critics that you're procrastinating, that you're putting the time off, that every time the date approaches you say no, we still need to instill or build the infrastructure necessary in order to hold those elections.

So, my question, I guess, is, is that if you're saying you're going to hold the elections in 2005, now you're saying 2005 or 2006, is that going to be a definitive date?

DOS SANTOS (through translator): What I would like to say here is that this is a shared responsibility of the state. In our country, the president does not do everything. The assembly passes the laws, and the president is the grantor of the execution. It's necessary that the assembly passes the electoral laws. And that way elections that will be -- will make the elections process viable.

And in those conditions, the president will be able to call the elections, considering that there is a legal right. However, we must have targets. There is no interest in trying to postpone the synergy of this process. Because that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the importance concerning the democratic process in Angola.

This is why we say the year 2005 or 2006. So, it's necessary that older players apart from the president of the republic that they should have that target in mind. Because the president might say that the elections can be held in September of 2006, but however the conditions established (UNINTELLIGIBLE) technical and material conditions. This is what we want to avoid.

MAKGABO: Let me ask you this, then: Can you say whether you will run again?

DOS SANTOS (through translator): This is a decision that will be taken by my party.

MAKGABO: Would you like to?

DOS SANTOS (through translator): No. Personally no. Because I am a man who keeps his word. However, I'm a party militant. If my party does not have any alternative candidate, if this is an important decision for the stability, I will have to reflect on what to do.


MAKGABO: That was an excerpt of a conversation earlier this year with Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos.

And coming up after the break, we'll meet a young rapper who claims to be promoting democracy through music. Stay with us for that next.


MAKGABO: Welcome back to Luanda, Angola.

As promised, we'd like to introduce you to a young rapper. Although his music is not available in a market like this, or for that matter in the street, he insists that he is making a contribution to the recovery of Angola through his music, no matter how controversial.

Meet MC Kappa.


MAKGABO (voice over): To many in Angola, this is the sound of change.

MC KAPPA, ANGOLAN RAPPER (through translator): This is the instrument that I use to share my education. The music is for me, a tool to fight against the injustice, social injustice. It is the proclamation of human rights.

MAKGABO: From the streets of Magoso (ph), one of the slums of the Angolan capital, Luanda, comes a young man's call for democracy.

MC Kappa, who says he cannot reveal his real name for fear of government retaliation, is among a small group of Angolan artists making their critical voices heard through music. The 23-year-old's message is one of more democracy, freedom of expression and justice.

KAPPA (through translator): This is supposed to be a democracy. It is supposed to allow every kind of idea and not just what the authorities think.

MAKGABO: But so far, the authorities and the odds are against him. Like many of his generation, the young rapper has known nothing but war for nearly all of his life.

He's also known no other leader. President Jose Eduardo dos Santos' government has been in power since before he was born. His songs are unofficially censored, songs with lyrics like this: "They decided your future while you were in your mother's womb. You don't know how to complain about your daily suffering. The guns have gone silent, but your stomach remains at war."

KAPPA (through translator): You have to bear in mind that our democracy here is denying the right to share of ideas, different opinions. It is quite difficult here.

MAKGABO: MC Kappa's voice adds to an increasing call for elections and reform. In spite of the wealth of resources in both oil and diamonds, the majority of Angolans live in poverty. But getting the message through is not always easy.

KAPPA (through translator): Some of the journalists refuse to promote our music. Some of the deejays refuse to play our songs because they are afraid of getting in trouble.

MAKGABO: Then, last November, Angola's weekly newspaper, "A Capital," reported the alleged killing of a young man by government troops. Twenty- seven-year-old Cheroki (ph) was reportedly beaten, stabbed and downed at a nearby beach. His alleged crime? Singing one of MC Kappa's songs.

The lyrics were reportedly draped across the coffin at his funeral. Part of it reads: "Who speaks the truth ends up in a coffin. What sort of democracy is this?"

The government has launched an investigation into Cheroki's (ph) killing. MC Kappa's music is finding its way through Angola, even if not through traditional means.

KAPPA (through translator): The way we sell our music, sell our products, our friends will distribute even in the streets to sell our product.

MAKGABO: As the debate over democracy intensifies here, MC Kappa and other artists like him believe their voices must be heard, hoping that somehow they can make a difference and hoping to create a better future for their country.

KAPPA (through translator): Music in Africa is a tool to fight. It enables people to just express themselves -- their feelings, their worries, inspiration about what they are fighting and patience.


MAKGABO: That was Angolan rapper MC Kappa.

As the country moves from war to peace, many of the people we've spoken with seem set on not repeating the mistakes of the past. They've lived denying that there are numerous problems here, and there are probably just as many opinions on how to solve them. But there is a prevailing feeling of hope and determination to give peace a chance.

That's our look INSIDE AFRICA for this week. Remember, we do want to hear your thoughts or comments on the program. Send your e-mail to

I'm Tumi Makgabo in Luanda, Angola. Thanks for watching.



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