Southern Africa is one of the gifted regions when it comes to culture, ethnicity and people. In the same way, Angola is one of the diverse culture countries in Africa. It may be the National Parks in Angola that attract several tourists but the cultures and lifestyle of Angolan is something unique…worthy of discovering!
Thinker is one of the most beautiful pieces of art in the Chokwe origin and represents all Angolans by symbolizing its national culture. The sculpture statue is seen bending down with both legs crossed and its hands placed on its head, which symbolizes the human thought. It is one of the oldest artifacts in Angola
The cultural origins of Angola relate to the Bantu peoples in Central Africa and the ancient kingdom of Kongo Due to its location on the southwestern coast of Africa, Angola became a key colonial region for early explorers and the growing Portuguese empire around 1500 AD. Its is not until the 19th century did Portugal try to make Angola one of its strong territories only to inspire resistance among the local Angolans leading to the independence
Angola’s struggle for independence was long and violent, and life in the independent nation has also been marred by intense civil war. The road to independence destructed the strong cohesion of local cultures and likewise the Portuguese traits that loomed on the coastal region. The largest ethnic groups in Angola have distinct cultural profiles as well as different political loyalties.
Peoples of Angola
Angola’s population is estimated to be 18,498,000 (2009). It is composed of Ovimbundu (language Umbundu) 37%, Ambundu (language Kimbundu) 25%, Bakongo 13%, and 32% other ethnic groups (including the Ovambo, the Ganguela and the Xindonga) as well as about 2% mestiços (mixed European and African) and 1% European. The Ambundu and Ovimbundu nations combined form a majority of the population, at 62%.
Some of the prominent peoples/ tribes include tthe Ovimbundu , who are located in the central and southern areas and speak Umbundu . The Mbundu are concentrated in the capital, Luanda, and in the central and northern areas and speak Kimbundu.
The Bakongo speak variants of the Kikongo language and also live in the northern part of Angola. A majority of the Bakongo who had fled to the Democratic Republic of Congo in the early 1960s, or of their children and grandchildren, returned to Angola, but mostly did not settle in their original “habitat”, but in the cities—and again above all in Luanda.
Other important groups include the Lunda, Chokwe, and Nganguela peoples, whose settlements are in the east. A small but important minority of mesticos (Portuguese-Africans) live in larger cities, especially Luanda. Before 1975, Angola had one of the largest white minorities in Africa, many of whom had never seen Portugal, but most left at the threat of independence.
Religion and Beliefs
Portuguese is the country’s official language, and the majority of Angolans are Roman Catholics. There are also smaller numbers of Protestants and people who practice traditional religions exclusively, though many Angolans combine some traditional beliefs with their Christianity.
The Muslims, practically all of them immigrants from West African and other countries and belonging to the Sunnite branch,
The traditional arts of Angola have played an important part in cultural rituals marking such passages as birth or death, childhood to adulthood, and the harvest and hunting seasons. In producing masks and other items from bronze, ivory, wood, malachite, or ceramics, each ethnolinguistic group has distinct styles. For example, the ritual masks created by the Lunda-Chokwerepresent such figures from their mythology as Princess Lweji and Prince Tschibinda-Ilunga.
Education and literature
Literacy is quite low, with 67.4% of the population over the age of 15 able to read and write in Portuguese.82.9% of males and 54.2% of women are literate as of 2001. Since independence from Portugal in 1975, a number of Angolan students continued to be admitted every year at high schools, polytechnic institutes, and universities in Portugal, Brazil and Cuba through bilateral agreements; in general, these students belong to the Angolan elites.
Music, Drama and Art
Music is the heart and soul of every Angolan, it can be heard anywhere and they use anything as an excuse to party. The country has a wide range of music, mainly Kuduro, Kizomba, Semba, and Tarrachinha, the latter being more sensual than all the others. In all, it is safe to say that Angolans are fun and loving people with a thirst for more of what life has to give.
The use of these ceremonial masks is always accompanied with music and storytelling, both of which have developed in important ways. Angolans’ literary roots in the oral tradition were overlaid during the 19th century with the writings of Portuguese-educated Portuguese-Africans in the cities.
Angola’s most famous poet, Antonio Agostinho Neto, was the leader of an important political movement. His works centered on themes of freedom and have been translated into many languages. Post-independence literature, however, has been limited by censorship and ongoing political strife.
Buildings and Architecture
Many buildings in Angola record the cultural contributions of the Portuguese. Some of the earliest landmarks are churches in the far north that served as bases for missionaries to the Kongo kingdom. One fine example of many is the Church of Se in the city of Mbanza Kongo. Actually, Portuguese architecture is one of the most fascinating attractions in Angola and by far one of the best parts of Angola Travel/ tour itinerary.
The later construction of many coastal forts corresponds to the area’s growing slave trade. Fort Sao Miguel in Luanda, built at the turn of the 17th century, is the most famous of these. This massive fort was for many years a self-contained town protected by thick walls encrusted with cannons. The fort served as slave depot, administrative center, and residence for the Portuguese community.
The Cathedral of Luanda, completed in 1628, is another impressive monument in the capital. Virtually every coastal city has a set of historic buildings that are broadly similar. The Church of Sao Tiago in the town of Namibe, for example, was built during the 19th century in a style very reminiscent of the 16th-century churches in more northern towns.