Tag Archives: Angola

Dokolo art collection future in question

The assets of Congolese art collector Sindika Dokolo who is renown for years of repatriation of African artefacts from Western collections have been frozen together with his wife’s fortune. Isabel dos Santos, often referred to as ‘richest African businesswoman‘, the billionaire daughter of the country’s former president, and her husband are facing trail for failing to repay to Angola an amount of $1bn in state loans claimed to be borrowed during her father’s term in office. (Image above: Bozar, Brussels).

The incumbent Angola’s president, Joao Lourenço, who took office in 2017, is attempting to recover the state loans he insists Dos Santos borrowed, abusing her proximity to power, and failed to repay during her father’s term in office.

Dos Santos personal fortune estimated by Forbes at $2.2bn, runs a vast business empire with large stakes in Angola companies across multiple sectors such as banking, telecoms and supermarkets.

Sindika Dokolo  has been devoted to search and repatriation of  precious artefacts which had left the continent during the colonial era to enter the European and US collections.

Dokolo is also a major collector of contemporary African art owning more than 3,000 masterpieces from different origins, and periods, including significant pieces of contemporary artists.

This contemporary art collection, which is administered by the Sindika Dokolo Foundation, is based in the Luanda, according to its website, although some artefacts may be stored abroad, including Dokolo‘s native Congo. At present there is no information about future destiny of the collection.

 

Isabel Dos Santos assets freeze

“Angola has frozen the assets of the billionaire Isabel dos Santos, daughter of the country’s former leader, in a move, indicating that incumbent President João Lourenço is aiming at tougher stance against the former first family.

“Since closing the chapter of José Eduardo dos Santos’ nearly 40-year grip on power in 2017, President Lourenço has been trying to neutralise the influence of his predecessor and reform sub-Saharan third-largest economy. Nowadays Lourenço is under increasing pressure while Angola economy continues delcine.

“Isabel dos Santos stated that the asset freeze was “politically motivated” and that the case against her had been held in total secrecy.

The judgment contains statements which are completely untrue,” she said in a statement. She later told Reuters new agency by phone that she had never been summoned or questioned by an Angolan court or prosecutors.

Considered to be “Africa’s wealthiest woman”, Isabel dos Santos amassed a fortune estimated at more than $2 billion through stakes in Angolan companies including banks and the telecoms firm Unitel, earning her the nickname “the Princess”.

She chaired the state oil company Sonangol before being sacked by Lourenço months after he came to power.

Angola against death penalty

In October Angola became party to the Optional Protocol aiming to the abolition of the death penalty, to the Convention against Torture and other cruel inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and to the Convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination.

The European Union welcomed Angola’s alignment with these three significant international treaties on human rights. The EU diplomacy underlined that Angola reinforces the global trend towards the abolition of the capital punishment, the eradication of torture and the elimination of all forms of racism.

“These accessions by Angola should encourage other countries to follow this example” said the statement of the European External Action Service.

“The European Union reaffirms its strong commitment to the universal abolition of the death penalty, to combatting torture and other ill-treatment worldwide as well as all forms of racism“.

Kendell Geers ventures African mask philosophy

South African conceptual artist Kendell Geers presents African masks in unconventional way to evoke re-evaluation of cultural heritage of the continent, shifting from outdated perception of  “fetish” to artefact, and further to reading the profound philosophical meaning of the ritual objects.

Concluding the exhibition IncarNations (BOZAR, Brussels)  debates took place on contemporary vision of African cultural heritage, and imminent need to shift away from the Colonial era patterns of exoticism to genuine understanding of meaning of African culture. Passionate proponent of African art,  Kendell Geers calls for abandoning Eurocentric system of assessment of cultural heritage, and regarding historic artefacts with African eyes.

Kendell Geers presentations of African masterpieces stretches beyond Africa, pointing to their universal spiritual strength, fearlessly confronting the most sensitive issues of Colonial past, and problems of the present dialogues between East, West and Africa to ensure transformations leading to engagements, empowering Africans, and reconstructing their rich cultural heritage.

The artist reflects upon dramatic history of colonisation of Africa, suggesting “negative” overpowers “positive” in synergy of two continents, until Europeans keep their prejudices and fantasies, and desires rooted in the bygone era.

 

The exhibition IncarNations created by the artist Kendell Geers in co-operation with the Congolese art collector Sindika Dokolo has challenged a traditional outlook on African culture, proposing Afrocentric perspective. It took place in Brussels Art Centre BOZAR from 

 

 

Rare Angola Mask at BOZAR

The rare mask from Angola is at display at BOZAR, Brussels, among the artefacts of the IncarNations exhibition. The “Chihongo” masculine mask, meaning a spirit of wealth, belong to tradition of Chokwe people of Angola, used to honour the male ancestors, believed to have power to bestow prosperity to the worshipers.

The type of masks are traditionally associated with the ancient rituals of the Mukanda school, devoted to young boys passing to manhood.

The mask went missing from Dundo Regional Museum, Angola, during the civil war (1975-2002). The story of the quest to find the mask, presumed stolen, began two years ago, and has been concluded successfully – the artefact has been found, and will be returned to the Angolan authorities.

Before it is sent back to Angola, it is at display at the Centre for Fine Arts as part of the IncarNations exhibition.

The exhibition includes a space devoted to the narrative of ongoing recovery project of the Dundo Museum, where the rare mask is integrated and open to public until the 6th of October.

Angola and Congo fires ignored

More fires than in Amazon are burning in Africa according to the NASA data. The data said there were 6,902 fires in Angola and 3,395 fires in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, compared with 2,127 fires in Brazil.

Information for Resource Management Map (FIRMS) shows a large swatch of fire across Angola, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The alarming area of these fires has left some people puzzled why so much attention is being paid to the Amazon, while on the surface it appears Africa is alight with even more blazes.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who has led the charge for international relief and solutions for the Amazon wildfire and has pledged aid from France, announced that he would consider starting a similar initiative for sub-Saharan Africa.

However, there are several issues to consider when comparing the two situations: the first difference to understand is that the impact of a wildfire depends more on where and what it is burning, than on how big it is, or indeed how many fires there are.

The vast majority of the African fires currently burning are observed in grasslands in exactly the places we expect to see fires at this time of year. These fires are usually lit by cattle farmers as part of their traditional management of the Savannah where their animals graze. Some fires are started to stimulate new growth of nutritious grass for their animals, others are used to control the numbers of  parasitic ticks or manage the growth of thorny shrub.

The experts, criticizing archaic methods, say that the farming technique, known as slash and burn, is controversial as environmentalists warn it can lead to deforestation, soil erosion and a loss of biodiversity.

But for the farmers it is the cheapest way to clear land, has the advantage of killing disease and the ash provides nutrients for future crops. Burning fields archaic method remains popular among Africans.

It happens every year ahead of the rainy season, which is expected to start in Angola and Congo in the next month or so. This traditional farming to some extend  explains why the fires in Africa have not attracted much attention.

President Lourenço calls for closer EU-Angola cooperation

EU-Angola relations and cooperation, development, migration and promoting stability, growth and jobs in the African continent were among the issues addressed during Mr João Lourenço’s first official visit to the European Parliament.

The President of Angola stressed the need to address common challenges together, such as migration, calling for a closer cooperation to help African countries to develop, create jobs and business opportunities.

Angola is determined in enhancing democracy, to opening up to the world and investments, Mr Lourenço said. Africa and Europe will only have to gain if African people can stay, live and work in their continent, he told MEPs.

The EU must strengthen its action in Angola and, more in general, in Africa,’’ said European Parliament President, Antonio Tajani, following the meeting with the President of Angola. Mr Tajani reiterated the need for a comprehensive Marshall Plan for Africa to help mobilise investments.

‘…At the end of his European Parliament speech, while President Joao Lourenço, of Angola, was leaving EP plenary, I managed to greet him and to ask him this question about Rafael Marques de Morais, and the corrupt ex-Prosecutor. He smiled and shrugged…” – wrote in her Twitter microblog Portugese Socialist MEP Ana Gomes.

 

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