Sunday, June 20, 2010

Former Angolan Liberation Party, Struggles to Meet Social Expectations

As a youth, I was tremendously inspired by the story of Angola's struggle against Western imperialism. Lead by the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), Angola won its independence but suffered from decades of a civil war fomented by the U.S. and apartheid South Africa. A large part of their mystique was a commitment, not just to independence, but to transforming Angolan society and investing in the social development of the nation's people. Angola was a Portuguese colony from the end of the 16th century until it achieved independence in 1975 through armed struggle. Colonial rule had neglected any focus on health care, education, or food sovereignty. How has the MPLA done after 35 years of political independence?

Today, Angola's civil war has ended and the MPLA remains the dominant party in the country. But it no longer remains the popular radical nationalist party it once was. Angola is rich in mineral resources and one of Africa's biggest exporters of oil however, the majority of the popular classes live in poverty and are excluded from the economic boom of the past few years. The export-oriented development model in Angola has generated enormous amounts of new wealth in the country but imports almost all of its food and basic medical supplies. The MPLA is currently working to meet the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals, which include dramatically improving the lives of the poor in the areas of health, income, and education.

The video below is an inside account of life in Angola and the unresolved social development needs in the capital city of Luanda.

Angola from Nacho Salgado on Vimeo.

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