Sunday, August 15, 2010

10 - Ovambo Wambo Zambo

Antrhopologal museum
The national anthropological museum is housed in a lovely pink Portuguese colonial mansion and has some interesting ethnographic exhibits, but they could certainly keep it in better shape. Here you can learn why the Ovambo are called Ovambo. The word means ostrich in the language of the Helelo or Herero, a neighbouring tribe, and as there were lots of ostriches in their neighbours' land, they called them the people of the ostriches.

There are also lots of fantastic musical instruments - marimbas and xylophones, and all sorts of drums and strings with exotic names like kakoxi, mbulumbumba, cinguvu, pwita, and ngoma (a drum with a gloomy carved face). There's a fine collection of phantasmagorical masks, too. Of course, photos are verboten, but that is true of most museums around the world.

Verboten photo towards presidential palace from Sao Miguel fort

A short way on, a climb up a steep hillock brings you to Sao Miguel fort, first built in 1576, affording a  splendid 360 degrees panorama over the whole city. Photos from those degrees that overlook the rear end of the presidential palace and upper city are, of course, verboten, but elsewhere they are ostensibly allowed. Muggins does, though, manage to slip in a few while a guard is looking the other way.

A spin round the other degrees brings you vistas of the so-called Space Rocket, the phallic memorial to independent Angola’s first president, Agostinho Neto; slums stretching on and up to the south; the port and the Marginal; and the Ilha peninsula, where my photographic antics, for some mysterious and peace-shattering reason, prompt a group of half dressed soldiers to re-enact the Charge of the Light Brigade - and yours truly to beat a hasty retreat back along the battlements into discretion. Have I just hit upon a hidden nuclear weapons programme?

'Space rocket' monument to Angola's first president

Between the fort and the presidential palace, Her Britannic Majesty's embassy nestles sleepily in another beautiful rose mansion - Her Excellency (yes it's an ambassadress) and her staff no doubt likewise. All efforts to snap this little piece of England are absolutely thwarted even before they can begin – the nearby guard is a hundred-eyed Argus.  
Another verboten snap towards upper city
                                                             Rot Alert:

 Help! I'm using a DEET anti-mosquito spray, I'm resting my sprayed elbows on the table as I click away at the computer, and now the varnish is ROTTING away. It's becoming all rough and patchy. So I won't get malaria. I'll get leprosy instead.

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