Sunday, August 29, 2010

24 - Hypocrites

A Cabinda slum
 We fly over the vast mouth of the Congo River, bank over some off-shore oil rigs with dirty great brown wakes of Gawd-alone-knows-what fouling the water (no chance of a verboten photo because the plane's windows are even dirtier), and touch down in Angola's Cabinda enclave, sandwiched between the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo – once the Belgian and French Congos. In fact Cabinda was once called Portuguese Congo, conned out of a local kingdom by some phoney treaty in the 1880s, and run as a separate colony until 1958 when Lisbon decided to merge it with Angola. So one can understand oil-rich Cabinda's separatists' point of view.

But then it's wonderful how today's anti-imperialists see nothing wrong with adopting imperialism's legacy of vastly different territories and tribes jumbled together, viz India with Assam, Nagaland etc. which had no ethnic, linguistic or other links with India until the British merged them administratively; or Indonesia with Dutch New Guinea etc.
Cabinda's slumdog millionaires?

Cabinda is definitely rather tired, but it has a faded charm with some tree-lined streets and colonial buildings, a nice waterfront going south and a couple of gaunt steepled churches. The governor's palace is an attractive large African-style building and I manage to sneak a verboten photo from my hotel terrace. There are the usual slums, some of them 'upper class' with a few more solid brick buildings abutting the rutted, puddled mud streets, where joyful kids are playing.

Meanwhile yours truly is staying at the best hotel in town for $160 a night. This is because it is only $24 more than the hotel two classes below it. But curb your enthusiasm: this tatty dowager has most definitely seen better days, and although it has a/c, TV and hot water, it is only worth about $40 in a normal country. And don't have your washing done here. It's $4.50 for a T-shirt and $3.30 for socks or panties.
Governor's Palace

A Cabinda park

Church of the Kingdom of the World

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