Angola: Africa’s most untouched tribes and virgin ecosystems

Why Angola?

Situated in Central Africa, west of Zambia and north of Namibia, Angola is slowly realizing its potential as a tourist hotspot, after decades of civil war following independence from Portugal in 1975.

Africa’s most untouched tribes, virgin ecosystems, unique cultural heritage, a stunning coastline strung with beautiful sandy beaches, and a mountainous interior that gives way to deep gorges and tumbling waterfalls, Angola offers a wide array of opportunities for tourism to its visitors. Cultural diversity and natural beauty aside, the country also boasts a rich gastronomy (fusion between African, Portuguese and Brazilian cuisines) with delicious culinary specialties and a people that are known for their hospitality and friendliness.

As Angola is opening up to the rest of the world, more and more people are taking advantage of the wonderful landscapes and unique tribal groups. To get the most out of your trip, book with Last Places Angola. We have been operating since 2014 and have pioneered the spots along the whole of Angola. We are constantly adapting our styles to assist our guests in having the best possible travel experience in Angola.

Tribes of Angola

Tribes in Angola are mainly concentrated in 3 provinces of Southwest Angola: Huila, Namibe and Cunene. The main reason why they have been able to preserve most of their traditional lifestyle and aesthetic looks it is because of their nomadic or semi-nomadic type of life. Another factor would be that they live in a dry ecosystem where European colonization did not develop extensively as in other parts of Angola. Nganguela and Kwanyama are located in Southeast region and are more westernized than other tribes but still keep tribal social structure and dances. It is the same case in Chokwe tribe, despite modernity masquerades are still alive.

Mumuila 

Also known as Muila or Mwila.

Population & Ecosystem
100.000 Mumuila live in Huila Plateau. Last Places team of ethnographers has divided the Mumuila tribe in Plain Mumuila (East of Chibia town) and Mountain Mumuila (West of Chibia town). They speak the same Nyaneka language with slight dialect differences but women dress differently with Plain Mumuila more richly decorated (hair and necks).

Economy & Society
Subsistence agriculture (mostly maize) and livestock keeping (cattle, goats and fowl). They gather in daily markets (except Sundays and Mondays) to sell and buy agriculture, artisan, and manufactured products. Some few Mumuila women still produce fine pottery to sell in markets.
Mumuila have a tribal chief who serves as the head of the tribe followed by a headman. Serving under the headman are the elders. Conflicts are resolved by the elders and the headman. A diviner is also often called upon.

Culture & Religion
Mumuila speak Nyaneka language.

For Mumuila women hairstyle is very important and meaningful. Mumuila women coat their hair with a red paste called oncula which is made of crushed red stone. They also put a mix of oil, crushed tree bark, dried cow dung and herbs on their hair. Besides they decorate their hair with beads, metal objects, cauri shells and even dried food.

Having their forehead shaved is considered a sign of beauty. The dreadlocks, are called nontombi. The number of big dreadlocks has a meaning: 3 dreadlocks means there is a dead person in the family. 4 to 6 dreadlocks is the normal style.

Mumuila women also wear impressive necklaces. Each type of necklace corresponds to a specific period of their life. When they are young, girls wear heavy red necklaces, made with beads covered with a mix of soil and latex. Later girls start to wear a set of yellow necklaces called vikeka made of wicker covered with earth. They keep it around 4 years until their wedding. Once married they start to wear a set of stacked up bead necklaces, called vilanda. Mumuila women never take their necklace off and have to sleep with it. They use wooden headrests, some beautifully carved, to protect their hairstyles.

Mumuila people are increasingly adopting the Christian religion but the older generations and in remote mountain villages Mumuila Animistic religion is still practiced. Mumuila believe that the spirits of their ancestors can either work for their good of for their worst. In order to please the ancestors, animal sacrifices have to be made. At birth a child is dedicated to a spirit by the parents in order to bless and protect him.
 

Handa

Also known as Handa de Quipungo or Vahanda.

Population & Ecosystem
30.000 Handa live in the fertile plains of Huila Plateau, between Kamuviu and Hoque market towns.

Economy & Society
Handa people mainly practice subsistence agriculture but also grow vegetables (cabbage and onions) to sell in big markets like in Hoque. Hand farmers also keep cattle, goats and fowl. Handa blacksmiths, once very active, are nowadays in regression but some still work to furnish Handa women with jewellery and hoes for the farm work. Potters are also in decay but some Handa women still fabricate clay pots to sell in markets.

Handa women continue to build and use baskets which involve many interesting geometry concepts. We refer, for example, to the notion of volume, conic (truncated) and cylindrical forms, spirals, proportions, geometric figures, patterns, plane transformations and friezes. The remarkable mathematical practices in the baskets are characterized by much unknown ethnomathematical knowledge that constitutes a challenge for future studies.

Handa have a tribal chief who serves as the head of the tribe followed by a headman. Serving under the headman are the elders. Conflicts are resolved by the elders and the headman. A diviner is also often called upon.

Culture & Religion
Handa speak Nyaneka language.

Most Handa have converted to Christianity and only the elder generations worship the African Gods and wear the traditional attires. Nowadays it is hard to see women younger the forty years old wearing the white (sometimes green) characteristic necklaces and complex hairdos. Body scarification used to be popular among Handa women but now has almost disappeared. Body marks can only be seen in women over fifty years old.
 

Muhumbi

Also known as Humbi, Nkumbi, Khumbi, Ngumbi, Nkhumbi, Ocinkumbi.

Population & Ecosystem
150.000 Muhumbi people live the fertile plains around Cunene River between the towns of Humbe and Xangongo.

Economy & Society
Muhumbi are mainly cattle herders but also practice commercial and subsistence agriculture along the Cunene River. Many young men leave the villages to find jobs in towns and cities.
Muhumbi have a tribal chief who serves as the head of the tribe followed by a headman. Serving under the headman are the elders. Conflicts are resolved by the elders and the headman. A diviner is also often called upon.

Culture & Religion
Muhumbi speak Nyaneka language. Most Muhumbi have converted to Christianity and only the elder generations worship the African Gods. The most stunning aspect of visual Muhumbi culture are the complex hairdos practiced to young women undergoing ‘fico’ or rite of passage (13-16 years old). There are two existing styles; the ‘elephant ears’ style and the crest style.
 

Mugambue

Also known as Gambue or Gambo.

Population & Ecosystem
25.000 Mugambue live in the feet of small rocky hills of Huila Plateau and in the forested plains south of Chibia.

Economy & Society
Mugambue people are cattle herders and also practice subsistence agriculture. Hunting is still practiced in forested areas. Mugambue blacksmiths have disappeared and now they purchase their hoes and machetes from neighbouring Khoisan blacksmiths or they purchase them in markets. Mugambue women still build and use wicker baskets and granaries. Mugambue society is ruled by a tribal chief who serves as the head of the clan followed by a headman. Serving under the headman are the elders. Conflicts are resolved by the elders and the headman. A diviner is also often called upon.

Culture & Religion
Mugambue speak Nyaneka language.

Mugambue combine their traditional religion related to the bull worshiping with Christianity. Nowadays only the elder generations wear the traditional attires with the exception of remote Mugambue groups in Cunene Province where one can find younger women with the clay traditional hairdo.

For traditional Mugambue women hairstyle is very important and meaningful. Mugambue women coat their hair with a mustard colour paste made of crushed yellowish stone, mixed with cow dung and herbs. Besides they decorate their hair with beads.

Mugambue women (mainly older women) also wear impressive necklaces (not as impressive as neighbouring Mumuila or Handa women’s ones). Once married they start to wear a set of stacked up bead necklaces, called vilanda. Mugambue women never take their necklace off and have to sleep with it. They use wooden headrests, some beautifully carved, to protect their hairstyles.
 

Khoisan

Also known as Khoi, San, Ju'hoansi, !Kung, Ekoka !Kung, Kamusekele, Sekele, or Mucancala.

Population & Ecosystem
3.000 Khoisan from Ekoka clan live in the rocky forested hills of Huila Plateau and around 5.000 ‘swamp’ Khoisan live in the large swampy area of Kwando Kuvango (Zambia and Namibia, Botswana borders).

Economy & Society
In Khoisan society men and women live together in a non-exploitative manner, displaying a striking degree of equality between the sexes. This band level society used traditional methods of hunting and gathering for subsistence into the 1970s. Today, the great majority of Khoisan people live semi-sedentary lives near the villages of Bantu pastoralists.

Traditionally, especially among Khoisan women generally collect plant foods and water, providing 60% - 80% of the group's sustenance, while men hunt. However, these gender roles are not strict and people do all jobs as needed with little or no shame.

Women generally take care of children and prepare food. However, this does restrict them to their homes, since these activities are generally done with, or close to, others, so women can socialise and help each other. Men are also engaged in these activities.

Children are raised in village groups of other children of a wide age range. Sexual activities amongst children are seen as natural play for both sexes.

Khoisan women often share an intimate sociability and spend many hours together discussing their lives, enjoying each other's company and children. Khoisan women will often rest, talk and nurse their babies while lying in the shade of a baobab tree. This illustrates "collective mothering", where several women support each other and share the nurturing role
It is unusual for the Khoisan to have a chieftain or headman in a position of power over the other members. Chieftainship within the Khoisan is not a position with the greatest power, as they have the same social status as the elders. Becoming chieftain is mostly nominal, though there are some responsibilities the chieftain assumes, such as becoming the tribe's logical head. This duty entails such roles as dividing up the meat from hunters' kills; these leaders do not receive a larger portion than any other member of the village.

Culture & Religion
Khoisan speak !Kung language.

Khoisan people call themselves the Ju'hoansi. Their material culture is very basic since they are nomadic or semi-nomadic and cannot carry many things. Today, they use colour beads to decorate their hairs and necks and have abandoned animal skins to cover their bodies. Since the 1960s Khoisan people use cotton fabrics as clothes, given by Bantu neighbours in exchange of medicinal plants Khoisan collect in the bush and in exchange of manual work in the fields Bantus possess. Khoisan still fabricate sophisticated bows and arrows for hunting.

Khoisan people recognize a Supreme Being (Khu/Xu/Xuba/Huwa) who is the Creator and Upholder of life. Like other African High Gods, he also punishes man by means of the weather, and the Otjimpolo-?Kung know him as Erob, who "knows everything".

Khoisan practice shamanism to communicate with the spirit world, and to cure what they call "Star Sickness". The communication with the spirit world is done by a natural healer entering a trance state and running through a fire, thereby chasing away bad spirits. Star Sickness is cured by laying hands on the diseased.

Healing rituals are a primary part of the Khoisan culture. In the Khoisan state of mind having health is equivalent to having social harmony meaning that relationships within the tribe are stable and open between other people in the tribe. Any member of the Khoisan tribe can become a healer because it "is a status accessible to all," but it is a grand aspiration of many members because of its importance. Even though there is no restriction of the power, "nearly half the men and one-third of the women are acknowledged of having the power to heal," but with the responsibility comes great pain and hardship. To become a healer, aspirants must become an apprentice and learn from older healers. Their training includes the older healer having to go into a trance to teach the novices, rubbing their own sweat onto the pupils’ centres — their bellies, backs, foreheads, and spines.

The community of the !Kung fully supports the healers and depends heavily on them. They have trust in the healers and the teachers to guide them psychologically and spiritually through life. The ?Kung have a saying: "Healing makes their hearts happy, and a happy heart is one that reflects a sense of community." Because of their longing to keep the peace between people, their community is tranquil.
 

Mudimba

Also known as Dimba.

Population & Ecosystem
15.000 Mudimba live between the wooded savannah eat of Cahama and the dry and rocky valleys and hills that end in Cunene River.

Economy & Society
Mudimba people are cattle herders and also practice hunting and subsistence agriculture. Mudimba women continue to build and use baskets which involve many interesting geometry concepts.

Culture & Religion
Dimba speak Herero language.

Dimba married women have two different styles of hairdo; ‘Afro’ style normally seen in older women or mothers with babies and the ‘three crest’ style less impressive than the ‘afro’ style. Dimba girls wear beaded wigs (sometimes covering their faces) for wedding celebrations which means they have had their first periods but are not ready for marriage. Dimba are becoming influenced by neighbouring Mhumbi and Mugambue tribes and are becoming increasingly Christians. Despite this tendency, in small villages African religion is still widely practiced.
 

Himba

Also known as Chimba,Oluthimba, Oluzimba, Otjidhimba, Ovazimba, Simba, Tjimba, Zemba.

Population & Ecosystem
18.000 Himba live in Angola and 7.000 in Namibia, separated by the Cunene River. They live in the dry and rocky valleys and hills around the Cunene River.

Economy & Society
Himba people are predominantly livestock farmers who breed fat-tailed sheep and goats, but count their wealth in the number of their cattle. They also grow and farm rain-fed crops such as maize and millet. Livestock are the major source of milk and meat for the Himba. Their main diet is sour milk and maize porridge (oruhere ruomaere) and sometimes plain hard porridge only, due to milk and meat scarcity. Their diet is also supplemented by cornmealchicken eggs, wild herbs and honey. Only occasionally, and opportunistically, are the livestock sold for cash.
Himba people are polygamous, with the average Himba man being husband to two wives at the same time. They also practice early arranged marriages. Young Himba girls are married to male partners chosen by their fathers. This happens from the onset of puberty which may mean that girls aged 10 or below are married off. Among the Himba people, it is customary as a rite of passage to circumcise boys before puberty. Upon marriage, a Himba boy is considered a man, unlike a Himba girl who is not considered a fully-fledged woman until she bears a child. Marriage with the Himba involves transactions between cattle, which is the source of their economy. Bride wealth is involved in these transactions; this can be negotiable between the groom's family and the bride's father, depending on the poverty status between the families involved. In order for the bride's family to accept the bride wealth, the cattle must appear of high quality. It is standard practice to offer an ox, but more cattle will be offered if the groom's father is wealthy and is capable of offering more.

Himba people live under a tribal structure based on bilateral descent that helps them live in one of the most extreme environments on earth.

Under bilateral descent, every tribe member belongs to two clans: one through the father (a patriclan, called oruzo) and another through the mother (a matriclan, called eanda). Himba clans are led by the eldest male in the clan. Sons live with their father's clan, and when daughters marry, they go to live with the clan of their husband. However, inheritance of wealth does not follow the patriclan but is determined by the matriclan, that is, a son does not inherit his father's cattle but his maternal uncle's instead.

Culture & Religion
Himba speak Herero language.

Both the Himba men and women are accustomed to wearing traditional clothing that befits their living environment and the hot semi-arid climate of their area, in most occurrences this consists simply of skirt-like clothing made from calfskins and sheep skin or increasingly from more modern textiles, and occasionally sandals for footwear. Women’s sandals are made from cows' skin while men's is made from old car tires. Himba women especially, as well as Himba men, are remarkably famous for covering themselves with otjize paste, a cosmetic mixture of butterfat and ochre pigment, to cleanse the skin over long periods due to water scarcity and protect themselves from the extremely hot and dry climate of Cunene River region as well as against mosquito insect bites. The cosmetic mixture, often perfumed with the aromatic resin of the omuzumba shrub, gives their skin and hair plaits a distinctive orange or red-tinge characteristic, as well as texture and style. Otjize is considered foremost a highly desirable aesthetic beauty cosmetic, symbolizing earth's rich red colour and blood the essence of life, and is consistent with the Himba ideal of beauty.

Hairstyle and jewellery play a significant role among the Himba, it indicates age and social status within their community. An infant or child will generally have his head kept shaven of hair or a small crop of hair on his head crown, this soon is sculptured to one braided hair plait extended to the rear of the head for young boys and young girls have two braided hair plaits extended forward towards the face often parallel to their eyes, the form of wear being determined by the oruzo membership (patrilineal descent group), the style remains during preadolescence until reaching puberty. Some young girls, with exception, may also have one braided hair plait extended forwards, which means they are one of a pair of twins.

From pubescence, boys continue to have one braided hair plait, girls will have many otjize textured hair plaits, some arranged to veil the girl's face, in daily practice the hair plaits are often tied together and held parted back from the face. Women who have been married for about a year, or have had a child, wear an ornate headpiece called the Erembe, sculptured from sheepskin, with many streams of braided hair, coloured and put in shape with otjize paste. Unmarried young men continue to wear one braided hair plait extended to the rear of the head, while married men wear a cap or head-wrap and un-braided hair beneath. Widowed men will remove their cap or head-wrap and expose un-braided hair. The Himba are also accustomed to use wood ash for hair cleansing due to water scarcity.

Himba people are a monotheistic people who worship the God Mukuru, as well as their clan's ancestors (ancestor reverence). Mukuru only blesses, while the ancestors can bless and curse. Each family has its own sacred ancestral fire, which is kept by the fire-keeper. The fire-keeper approaches the sacred ancestral fire every seven to eight days in order to communicate with Mukuru and the ancestors on behalf of his family. Often, because Mukuru is busy in a distant realm, the ancestors act as Mukuru's representatives.

The Himba traditionally believe in omiti, which some translate to mean witchcraft but which others call "black magic" or "bad medicine". Some Himba believe that death is caused by omiti, or rather, by someone using omiti for malicious purposes. Additionally, some believe that evil people who use omiti have the power to place bad thoughts into another's mind or cause extraordinary events to happen (such as when a common illness becomes life-threatening). But users of omiti do not always attack their victim directly; sometimes they target a relative or loved one. Some OvaHimba will consult a traditional African diviner-healer to reveal the reason behind an extraordinary event, or the source of the omiti.

Himba Color perception
Several researchers have studied the Himba perception of colours. The Himba use four colour names: zuzu stands for dark shades of blue, red, green and purple; vapa is white and some shades of yellow; buru is some shades of green and blue; and dambu is some other shades of green, red and brown.
 

Muhakaona

Also known as Hakaona, Zemba, Ovazemba or Mukawana.

Population & Ecosystem
7.000 Muhakaona live in the wooded savannah and rocky hills around Oncocua town, not far from Cunene River (Namibia border).

Economy & Society
Muhakaona people are predominantly livestock farmers who breed goats, but count their wealth in the number of their cattle. They also grow and farm rain-fed crops such as maize and millet. Their main diet is sour milk and maize porridge (oruhere ruomaere). Their diet is also supplemented by cornmealchicken eggs, wild herbs and honey. Only occasionally, and opportunistically, are the livestock sold for cash.

Muhakaona people are polygamous, with the average Muhakaona man being husband to two wives at the same time. They also practice early arranged marriages. Young Muhakaona girls are married to male partners chosen by their fathers. This happens from the onset of puberty which may mean that girls aged 10 or below are married off. Among the Muhakaona people, it is customary as a rite of passage to circumcise boys before puberty. Upon marriage, a Muhakaona boy is considered a man, unlike a Muhakaona girl who is not considered a fully-fledged woman until she bears a child. Marriage with the Muhakaona involves transactions between cattle, which is the source of their economy. Bride wealth is involved in these transactions; this can be negotiable between the groom's family and the bride's father, depending on the poverty status between the families involved. In order for the bride's family to accept the bride wealth, the cattle must appear of high quality. It is standard practice to offer an ox, but more cattle will be offered if the groom's father is wealthy and is capable of offering more.

Muhakaona people live under a tribal structure based on bilateral descent that helps them live in one of the most extreme environments on earth.

Under bilateral descent, every tribe member belongs to two clans: one through the father and another through the mother. Muhakona clans are led by the eldest male in the clan. Sons live with their father's clan, and when daughters marry, they go to live with the clan of their husband. However, inheritance of wealth does not follow the patriclan but is determined by the matriclan, that is, a son does not inherit his father's cattle but his maternal uncle's instead.

Culture & Religion
Muhakaona speak Herero language, similar to Himba. In fact Muhakaona are also known as the Black Himba.

Muhakaona women shape their hairdo with a mix of cow dung, fat, and herbs (frangance). On top of their hair some women may wear Kapapo headdress made of waste materials. Little girls have two braids on their foreheads, little boys have one behind their head, but if you see a child with one single braid on their forehead, it means that they are one of a set of twins. Pubescent girls wear long dreadlocks, made from their own hair but also their brothers’ and sisters’ hair.’ Near the towns, merchants have detected the demand, and sell hair extensions from India. Muhakaona women cover their bodies in otijze, a mixture of ash, butter and ochre that gives them the unique black-copper colour. Also a beauty symbol, Muhacaona women remove their lower teeth, which is done by hitting them with a stone. Like Himba men, married Muhakaona men wrap their hair in a sort of bandana and protect it by sleeping on a wooden pillow, often covered in a leather cushion, rare sign of comfort for a tribe.
 

Tjimba

Also known as Cimba.

Population & Ecosystem
Remote hunter-gatherer people living in the mountain ranges bordering the Cunene River.

Economy & Society
Hunter gatherers. They continue to use stone tools, and use Adenium boehmianum to poison their arrows. Tjimba are organised in small bands composed of around 20-30 members lead by elderly men and women.

Culture & Religion
Tjimba speak Herero language.

Their Himba and Muhakaona neighbours portray them as Herero who have lost their cattle and are therefore impoverished, but they are a distinct people, both culturally and physically. Indeed, physically they seem to be a remnant of an indigenous population of a southern African type—along with the Cuepe and Mucuis -. The mitochondrial DNA of Tjimba who have been genetically tested is similar to that of Himba, suggesting that they descend (at least maternally) from the same Bantu ancestors.
 

Mutua

Also known as Tua, Twa, Batwa or Batua.

Population & Ecosystem
There are 1.500 Mutua living in the dry river beads and forests around Oncocua town.

Economy & Society
Hunter gatherers and blacksmiths. Mutua are organised in small bands composed of around 20-30 members lead by elderly men and women.

Culture & Religion
Mutua speak Herero language. Mutua have given up part of their traditional cultural identity to imitate the dress and language of the Himba tribe.
 

Mucubal

Also known as Cubal or Mucuval.

Population & Ecosystem
70.000 Mucubal live in a large area between the slopes of Chela Mounts in the north, Chiange to east, and Cunene River to the south, where they are believed to have stopped during the Himba migration in the 18th Century.

Economy & Society
Semi-nomadic cattle pastoralists. They often steal cattle from Mugambue and Mumuila neighbouring tribes. Agriculture was introduced in 1990s and is still very rudimentary. Mucubal where the last tribe to be submitted by the Portuguese colonial army at it was not until 1939 that the last Mucubal leader accepted defeat. To this day they continue to be a proud indomitable tribe.

Family structure and organization are very specific. The father has the authority and is the head of the family, although the matrilineal descent is considered more important, as they inherit through the mother's family. For example the son of the Soba -chieftain of the village-’s sister is the heir of the Soba.

Mucubal can only get married with an outsider of the clan, although it cannot be with a member of another tribe like a Himba for example. Marriages of convenience are the rule most of the time. The fiancée is presented to her future husband during the Fico ceremony, when she is fourteen or less. This ceremony consists in a party with the two families during which presents are offered.
The couple has to wait a few more years before consummating the marriage in the centre of the village. Mucubal men can have several wives and are also allowed to sell their wife, if they don’t get along with her or even if they want to earn money, as a woman can be worth 2 cows, which is about 2000 euros. For a first marriage a woman can even be worth 3 or 4 cows.

Cattle is the real base of support to this important ethnic group in Angola. A Mucubal man is both richer and more important per the number of cattle they have. It can therefore be said that the cattle for any Mucubal is the ultimate expression of their wealth.
 
Culture & Religion
Mucubal speak Herero language.

Mucubal women wear an original and unique headdress called the Ompota. It is made of a wicker framework, traditionally filled with a bunch of tied cow tails, decorated with buttons, shells, zippers and beads. But tradition is disappearing as some women use Barbie dolls boxes to cram their ompota headdress. Women whether they are married or not can wear jewels. Ornaments like iron anklets, called Othivela, and armlets, called Othingo, are worn by girls as well as adult women. Mucubal women are also famous for the string they have around their breast, called oyonduthi, which is used as a bra. Women use to smoke tobacco (that they keep in a snuffbox called boceta) in pipes called opessi.

At their younger age, Mucubal girls have their upper teeth sharpened and lower ones removed. Also as mode of beautification Mucubal women rub mupeque oil (reddish oil that comes from a crushed nut found in the desert) on their necks and bodies.

Mucubal have some very strong time-honoured customs and traditions which they value so dearly. They are seriously interested in cattle, worship it and do not care about the rest of the world outside of the bush. As a custom, the Mucubals are not allowed to mention people’s name in public, except their parent’s names and specifically names of children. Married couples are not allowed to talk to each other in public, as long as she (a wife) hasn’t had children. They can only speak to each other in private.

Mucubal people believe in a God called Huku, Klaunga, Ndyambi. They also worship their ancestors' spirits called Oyo Handi and Ovi huku, which are considered inferior to their supreme divinity.

Divination is very important in their culture. They use talismans and amulets to protect their herds or prevent adultery. Nevertheless Mucubal are not afraid of death. Funerals can last several days or weeks. They decorate their graves with cattle horns.

The number of cows sacrificed are in relation with the importance of the deceased. This shows the importance of cattle in their culture. Cattle is only killed on special occasions, as Mucubal usually don’t eat meat but rather corn (when they manage to grow some), eggs, milk and chicken.

They don’t eat any fish because according to the legend, one of their chieftains was brought to the sea by the Portuguese and never came back. So they think that fish kills men.

Like the vast majority of African peoples, the Mucubals also practice a tradition strongly rooted circumcision of young people. The ceremony of circumcision is performed regularly and is an event of great significance, it being the feast of the initiation of young Mucubals, a sort of passage of young people to the status of youths.
 

Mucuis

Also known as Cuis, Cwisi.

Population & Ecosystem
There are 600 Mucuis living in the dry river beads and rocks between Virei town and Curoca Oasis.

Economy & Society
In the old times (before European colonization) Mucuis people practiced seashore-fishing. Today they combine hunting gathering activities with animal husbandry (goats) in Virei region.

Culture & Religion
Mucuis speak Herero language similar to Mucubal.

The culture and physical appearance of some of the Mucuis people seem to be a remnant of a pre-Bantu indigenous population. Culturally they have been strongly influenced by the Mucubal tribe, and speak the Mucubal dialect of Herero. The last speakers of Mucuis passed away in 1960s.

Physically speaking they are similar to other former hunter-gatherer groups, such as Pre-Bantu Kwadi and Tjimba.
 

Ngendelengo

Also known as Cuendelengo, Kwendelengo, N’Guendelengo, Olungendelengo, or Ovangendelengo.

Population & Ecosystem
1.000 Ngendelengo live in the forested mountains of Serra da Chela.

Economy & Society
Semi-nomadic cattle pastoralists, hunter, gatherers and subsistence agriculturalists. Living in a forested environment has allowed them to develop a rudimentary charcoal business.

Nguendelengo produce important quantities of vegetable charcoal that they sell beside the roads that cross their territory.

Culture & Religion
Nguendelengo speak Herero language strongly influenced by neighbouring Nyaneka.

Nguendelengo people typically wear little clothing (similar to Mucubal tribe), carry machetes or spears, and are renowned for their endurance, sometimes running 80 km in a day. What is unique about Nguendelengo culture is the way women decorate their hairs with ‘geisha-style’ buns and also their two-storey granary-homes. Nguendelengo live in isolated mountain areas and have been little affected by Portuguese colonization and missionary activity, therefore they still practice their African religion related to bull worshiping.
 

Kwandu

Also known as Kwando.

Population & Ecosystem
6.000 Kwandu people live in the mountain area of Serra das Neves, near the towns of Kamukuio and Mamue.

Economy & Society
Cattle pastoralists and subsistence agriculturalists.

Culture & Religion
Kwandu speak Herero language similar to Mucubal.

Culture is similar to neighbouring Mucubal tribe but more Westernized due to proximity of Benguela area that was colonized in the 18th century. Schooling and missionary action have affected the traditional ways of Kwandu people and nowadays they are mostly Christianised.
 

Cuepe

Also known as Kwepe, Kwadi, Bakoroka, Cuanhoca, Curoca, Koroka, Makoroko, Mucoroca.

Population & Ecosystem
There are 250 Cuepe living around Curoca desert oasis.

Economy & Society
Cuepe used to be hunters and gatherers living along the Atlantic Coast and the desert rivers. Like the Mucuis they were mainly fishermen, on the lower reaches of the Curoca River. With the arrival of European settlers, Cuepe moved to more remote areas inside the desert. Today they combine some symbolic hunting with gathering, subsistence agriculture, and goat riering.

Culture & Religion
Cuepe speak Herero language similar to Mucubal.

Cuepe people call themselves Kwadi. They appear to have been a remnant population of southwestern African hunter-gatherers. The last speakers of Cuepe language passed away in 2018. Cuepe culture is highly influenced by dominant Mucubal culture. Despite this assimilation process and the penetration of Christianity in the community there is a strong sense of identity. Cuepe still practice traditional medicine that is related to the old African religion (Animistic). Cuepe fabricate dolls and are in an interesting process of cultural revival, decidedly supported by Last Places.
 

Kwanyama

Also known as Cuanhama, Humba, Kuanjama, Kwancama, Kwanjama, Kwanyama, Ochikwanyama, Oshikuanjama, Oshikwanyama, Ovambo, Oxikuanyama, or Wambo.

Population & Ecosystem
400.000 Kwanyama reside in the flat sandy grassy plains of Cunene Province, sometimes referred to as Ovamboland. These plains are generally flat, stoneless and at high altitude. Water courses, known as oshanas, irrigate the area. In the northern regions of Ovamboland is tropical vegetation sustained by abundant but seasonal rainfall that floods the region into temporary lakes and islands. In dry season, these pools of water empty out.

Economy & Society
Kwanyama people lead a settled life, relying mostly on a combination of agriculture and animal husbandry. The staple crops have been millet, sorghum, and beans. In drier regions or seasons, pastoral activity with herds of cattle, goats and sheep becomes more important. The animal husbandry is not for meat, but primarily as a source of milk. Their food is supplemented by hunting, fishing, and gathering.

During the colonial era, the Kwanyama people were active in elephant hunting for their tusks to supply the ivory demand, and they nearly hunted the elephants in their region to extinction.
Kwanyama are skilled craftsmen. They make and sell basketry, pottery, jewellery, wooden combs, wood iron spears, arrows, richly decorated daggers, musical instruments, and also ivory buttons.

Each Kwanyama clan has a hereditary chief who is responsible for the clan. Many clans have adapted representation by having a council of headmen who run tribal affairs. Members of the royal family of the Owamboland are known as ovakwaluvala. Only those who belong to this family by birth, through the maternal line, have a claim to chieftainship. The clans figure their descent by a matrilineal kinship system, with hereditary chiefs arising from the daughter's children, not the son's. Polygyny is accepted, with the first wife recognized as the senior.

Culture & Religion
Kwanyama speak Ovambo language.

The traditional religion of the Kwanyama people is the primary faith of less than 3%, as most state Christianity to be their primary faith. Kyanyama traditional religion envisions a Supreme Being named Kalunga, with their rites and rituals cantered on sacred fire like many ethnic groups in southwestern Africa. The Kalunga cosmology states that the Supreme Being created the first man and first woman, who had a daughter and two sons. It is the daughter's lineage that created Kwanyama people, according to the traditional beliefs of the matrilineal Kyanyama people.
The rituals involve elaborate fire making and keeping ceremonies, rain making dance, and rites have involved throwing herbs in the fire and inhaling the rising smoke. The head priest traditionally was the king of a tribe, and his role was in part to attend to the supernatural spirits and be the chief representative of the Kyanyama tribe to the deities.

Christianity arrived among the Kwanyama people in late 19th century. The first Finnish missionaries arrived in Ovamboland in the 1870s, and Kwanyama predominantly converted and thereof have identified themselves as Lutheran Christians. The influence of the Finnish missions not only related to the religion, but cultural practices. For example, the typical dress style of the contemporary Kwanyama women that includes a head scarf and loose full length maxi, is derived from those of the 19th century Finnish missionaries.

Kwanyama people now predominantly follow Christian theology, prayer rituals and festivities, but some of the traditional religious practices have continued, such as the use of ritual sacred fire. They also invoke their supreme creator Kalunga. Thus, the Kwanyama have preferred a syncretic form of Christianity. Most weddings feature a combination of Christian beliefs and Kwanyama traditions.
 

Chokwe

Also known as Ciokwe, Djok, Kioko, Quioco, Shioko, Tschiokloe, or Tshokwe.

Population & Ecosystem
460.000 Chokwe live in woodland savanna, but are also found along rivers and marshland with strips of rainforest.

Economy & Society
In the north, the Chokwe are known as skilled hunters. In south, their livelihood has traditionally centred on cultivation of staple crops such as cassava, yams, millet, beans, peanuts and corn (maize). Pastoral activity with cattle is also a part of the southern Chokwe people's life.

Chokwe are famous for their exceptional crafts work, particularly with baskets, pottery, mask carving, statues, stools and other handicrafts. The art work include utilitarian objects, but often integrates Chokwe mythologies, oral history and spiritual beliefs.

Both chiefs and village groups are found in the Chokwe culture. Villages consist of company compounds with square huts or circular grass-houses with a central space that serves as the meeting place for the villagers.

The Chokwe are traditionally a matrilineal society, but where the woman moves to live with her husband's family after wedding. Polygyny has been a historic practice usually limited to the chief or a wealthy family.

Culture & Religion
Chokwe speak Kitchokwe language.

The traditional religious beliefs of the Chokwe centre around ancestor spirits worship. In groups where chiefs exist, they are considered the representative of god Kalunga, therefore revered and called Mwanangana or "overseer of the land". The Chokwe people believe that works of arts such as handicrafts and carved objects are spiritual, connect them to their ancestors and god Kalunga. With the colonial era, Chowke converted to Christianity massively yet the original beliefs were retained to produce a syncretism of beliefs and practices. They have, for example, continued their spirit-rituals from pre-Christian era, as well maintained their elaborate rites-of-passage ceremonies particularly to mark the entry into adulthood by men and women.

While facial and body scarification (popular until 1940s) have almost disappeared due to social, economic and cultural change, masquerades are still popular in Chokwe territory.

Old forts of Angola

Portuguese explorers reached the coast of what today is Angola in 1482. By mid-16th Century the Angolan northern coast and riverbanks where splashed with several military fortress and Baroque style churches. Some of this colonial heritage has been destroyed during the Civil War (1975-2002) but many are still standing. Some interesting examples to visit are:

Cathedral of the Holy Saviour of Congo, located in the city of M´banza Kongo (North Angola) and today in ruins. Built at the end of the 15th century in the capital of the Kingdom of the Congo, it was the first Catholic cathedrals in sub-Saharan Africa. It is a UNESCO site since 2017.

The Fortress of Muxima, built of stone and mortar in 1599, is situated in the Bengo Province of Angola next to the Cuanza River. The Fortress of Muxina was used as the basis of Portuguese forces when they went to the interior making slave raids.

São Miguel fort was built in 1576 by Paulo Dias de Novais. It became the administrative centre of the colony and was a major outlet for slave traffic to Brazil. Inside the fort, elaborate ceramic tiles tell the story of Angola from early years, and in the courtyard are large, imposing statues of Portugal's first king, the first European to reach AngolaDiego Cao, renowned explorer Vasco da Gama and other notables. Today, it holds the Museum of the Armed Forces.
 

Old Churches of Angola

Our Lady of the Cape Church - Founded in 1575/1669. The small church of the island was dedicated to our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. When the Portuguese regained the territory lost to the Dutch in 1648, was erected at the same location, a new Church, but much larger. The works just finished in 1669. The Church was called Our Lady of the Cape.

Our Lady of Conception Church - Founded in 1583/1590. This church became the Luanda Cathedral, something which lasted until 1818.

Mercy Church - Founded in 1621/1624. The Queen Leonor of Portugal ordered the construction of the Mercy Church and of a hospital to treat military and civilian patients that has gone from 1621 to 1624.

Jesus Church - Founded in 1612/1636. The style is Baroque and the Church was considered at the time "the grandest structure in the southern hemisphere".

With the Dutch occupation in 1641, the Church served as a Parliament and Government Council. With the reconquest by the Portuguese in 1648, became a Church again. In 1978, became the Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Luanda.

Our Lady of Nazareth Church - Founded in 1664/1965. The small church of Our Lady of Nazareth was built in 1664, almost on the water. The facade was in front of the Bay and to the Church of Our Lady of the Cape.

In 1922 the Church was regarded as a national monument. It is a replica of the Our Lady of Nazareth, a picturesque fisherman's Beach in Portugal, full of tiles that tell stories and miracles. Inside there is a black image of Santa Iphigenia of Ethiopia. Today is the Church of the parish and a shrine.

Church of Our Lady of the Remedies - Founded in 1655/1679.
Here lie the remains of the first Archbishop of Luanda and the last Angola/Congo Bishop.

Carmo's Church – Founded in 1660/1689. The Church belongs to the convent of the order of the Carmelites.

As the Church was commissioned by the Queen, the exterior of the building brings her Crown. Inside there is a wide staircase, so that women in long dresses could climb to the first counter.

Lubango Cathedral situated in the city centre and which dates from 1939 an interesting example of Art Deco style.

Church Mission of Huila, dating from 1880, one of the oldest in the province and a good example to understand colonial missionary action in tribal areas.
 

Colonial architecture in Luanda

Luanda is a town born in 1575 because of the Atlantic slave trade which continued to the end of the 19th century when international pressure forced it to stop. The next significant growth of the city was based on the coffee industry (1930s-1950s) and now oil is the driving force behind Luanda’s expansion. These historical periods of economic expansion can be understood through Luanda’s architecture.

Palacio D. Ana Joaquina (1755). Original house dated from 1755 was house of slave trader Ana Joaquina dos Santos da Silva.

Hospital Maria Pia -currently Josina Machel- (1883). Neo-Classical façade – Planned on a Modular Distribution System – gave the wards fresh air and light.

Palacio de Ferro -Iron Palace- (1890), reputedly designed and built by Gustave Eiffel. It is believed to have been pre-built in the 1890 in France and was destined to be placed in Madagascar via boat. Instead, the building ended-up in Angola's Skeleton Coast after the ship carrying was drifted by the notorious Benguela currents. Portuguese rulers of the colony then claimed the ship along with all its contents, including the palace.

Provincial Government (1890) building. Pre-fabricated Steel structure.

Maianga Station and Train Master’s house (1888). Located in Cidade Alta to serve the Luanda-Malange railway used by Governors to travel to Country.

Grande Hotel (1910). First Luxury Hotel; located close to dock housed dislocated families from civil war. Today is a cultural centre.

Map of the world done in tile (1944) on the front of Mutu Ya Kevela School, on Avenida Lenin,
Grande Univeso Hotel (1949) and Globo Hotel (1953) are good examples of Modernist Tropical architecture.
 

Tropical Modernist architecture of Angola

During 1930 and 1950 Angola enjoyed an economic boom mainly due to coffee and diamond export to Europe and Brazil. Thanks to this sudden wealth many families and local governments decided to invest in their homes, amusement sites and public buildings. The architecture of this period is known as ‘Moderno Tropical’ –Tropical Modernist- and is characterized by a mixture of Art Deco and Modernist styles. Good examples of this architecture can be found in Luanda, Lobito, Benguela, Lubango, Namibe, and Tombwa.
 

Old Cinemas of Angola

From the late colonial modernist structures of the 1930s, to the open-air cine-esplandas that sprung up in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, these structures served as more than just places to catch the latest flick - they were vibrant meeting points for the local communities.
The Cine Atlantico (ex-Cinema Imperio) is still in use, hosting the annual Luanda International Film Festival. Designed by the architect Antonio Ribeiro dos Santos, the building was inaugurated in 1966 with a screening of the film My Fair Lady.

The national assembly, where the parliament convenes, is housed in the Cine-Teatro Restauraçao (1956), designed by the architect brothers Joao Garcia de Castilho and Luis Garcia de Castilho with references to the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright and Willem Dudok.

Cine-Teatro Nacional, built 1932 in Art Deco style was the first cinema in Luanda.
The Cine Kalunga in the Benguela province built in the 60s in the style of the esplandas contains a luxuriant garden of generous proportions, built to seat 1,146 people. The cinema has been completely restored now, and hosted the 2002 Miss Angola Contest.

Cine-Teatro Imperium, Lobito. Built in 1950 in pure Art Deco style.

Cine Flamingo in Lobito. Open air cinema built in 1963.

Cine Teatro Odeon, built in Lubango in 1955. Today in ruins.

Cine Teatro Arco Iris, last cinema to be built in Angola (1974), 1 year before Independence.

Cine-Teatro Moçamedes (today Namibe) built in 1939 Art Deco style.

Cine Estudio (1965) in Namibe. Futurist style made of concrete. Today abandoned.

The Cine Impala in Namibe – a 600-person theatre, designed by architects Botelho Pereira in 1972 – takes its name from the African antelope, which is a symbol of the city.

Cine-Teatro Tombwa (1952), today abandoned with the classical Art Deco structure and with some machinery still in place.
 

Vernacular architecture of Angola

Vernacular architecture is commonly recognized as the fundamental expression of the world’s cultural diversity. In Angola best examples of vernacular architecture are found among the remote tribes in the Southwest. An outstanding example of sophisticated and beautiful is the one of Nguendelengo tribe with two-storey constructions that serve as home and granary. Other beautiful more basic type of structures are found among nomadic groups in desert areas such as Mucubal, Mudimba and Himba tribes. The desire for modernization and the well-known globalization phenomenon are some of the most frequent evoked issues responsible for endangering the survival of vernacular heritage in Africa. In Last Places we aim to highlight the outstanding universal value of vernacular architectural heritage in Angola and to raise awareness to the increasing need, not only the protection of these structures’ integrity but also for the preservation of such ancient and sustainable building techniques as a living heritage.
 

Modern Art of Angola

The works of Angolan painter and poet Albano Neves e Sousa (1921-1995) can be admired in the lobby, restaurant, and kitchen (6 paintings in total he did as a form of payment to the owner, an immigrant from Galicia, Spain) of Hotel Grande Universo, an Art Deco building from 1949, also one can admire his work in a gigantic panel at Quatro de Fevereiro International Airport (1951) –check in area-, and in several panels in the Museu de Historia Natural de Angola (1956) to show the habitat of the different stuffed Angolan animal species exposed there. He represented Angolan tribes, nature and daily life in what is known as ‘modern-tropical’ style it would be a combination of Art Decó and Rationalist style combined.

Since 2005, the arts scene in oil-rich Angola has been booming. It has been so strong, it has taken the international arts community by surprise. Angola won the award for Best National Pavilion at the 2013 Venice Biennale despite it being the first time the country exhibited there. Angola now boasts numerous prestigious galleries and cultural centres, and is home to the Trienal de Luanda, an annual event held to enhance Angolan and African culture, and stimulate artistic interest in citizens. With an environment that supports the arts, Angola’s arts community is thriving. Some of the most renowned contemporary Angolan artists would be:

Helga Gamboa is a ceramics artist who combines traditional methods with modern imagery. The combination often produces shocking results, such as when glaze resembles blood pouring out of a vessel, or when a dish has a warning on it such as “DANGER MINES.” Gamboa now lives and works in the U.K.

Paulo Kussy is one of Angola’s most celebrated artists. His paintings are large and bold in their use of color, often combining styles like graffiti art, Japanese printmaking and Soviet propaganda art. Kussy left Angola at a young age and lived in many different countries before studying art in Lisbon and eventually returning to Angola to exhibit.

Edson Chagas is one of the artists who represented Angola in the 55th Venice Biennale for which the country won the prestigious Golden Lion Award. Chagas primarily works in photography and shows images that depict social issues, critique consumerism, and show relationships between space and time.

Kiluanji Kia Henda is an Angolan photographer whose work has received international acclaim. His photographs deal with Africa’s colonial past by juxtaposing European and African imagery, such as in his work, “The Great Italian Nude,” in which he shows an African chief reclining on a sofa in the style of an Italian renaissance painting.
 

Rock paintings of Angola

Tchitundo Hulo rock carvings and paintings
Discovered near Virei town in 1954, Tchitundo Hulo boasts around two thousand carvings, mostly of geometric design. The numerous carvings show that over an extensive period of time, this granite mount was used for different ceremonies in which rock carvings on stone ground must have played a central role. Archaeologists date Tchitundo Hulo rock carvings and paintings 20.000 years back.

The names Tchitundo-hulo Mulume and Tchitundo-hulo Mucai stand for man and woman. The two inselbergs stand about a kilometre apart, the former has multiple rock carvings, with an overhang or shelter with drawings on its roof.

Archaeologist Camarate França noted that these particular inselbergs were named ‘mother and daughter’ by the local population, but the memory of why they had been given these names has been lost.

According to the reverend, ‘hulo’ could mean final, or last. He adds that: “‘ondjila hulo’ means the final road, the end of the road, or path’s end”.

There is a great number of star motifs, circles and abstract designs, and a small number of medium to large-sized mammals. There is a marked absence of anthropomorphic drawings.

Tribal dolls of Angola

Generally, most dolls in Angola, as in most all of Africa, are used by children, primarily girls, to help them envisage their future roles as adult women, mothers and the primary caregivers in their communities. Though used in play, the forms of many dolls encode important social and aesthetic concepts about appropriate demeanour and the links between physical and moral beauty. Not surprisingly, dolls in different African societies emphasize in both form and decoration, aspects of ideal feminine beauty. They include elaborate coiffures, body ornamentation and physical features that underscore the importance of fertility.
 
Tribes of Southwest Angola continue to fabricate dolls. Mumuila, Handa, Muhumbi, Khoisan, Mudimba, Mugambue, Himba, Muhakaona, Mutua, Mucubal, Mucuis, Nguendelengo, and Cuepe tribe each fabricate their own special doll. Huila Museum in Lubango exhibits a beautiful collection of tribal dolls.

The centre or core of these dolls is made from a solid piece of carved wood. Fabric is obtained from the doll maker’s actual clothing. Plastic, wire and grass fiber rings are as those worn by the owner as bangles. Beads decorate the hairdo, which are meant to replicate the owners coiffure. The name given to the doll will become the name of the owners first born child.

Kwanyama dolls are amongst the rarest and most sought after beaded artworks from southern Africa. The men of the Kwanyama peoples of southern Angola carved these dolls as prophecies of future children. Fathers would give these dolls to their daughters. The dolls are rich in symbolism - the obviously phallic shape alluded to fertility and the importance of the male while the blue beads resemble garments worn by Kwanyama women.

Chokwe Art of Angola

In Luanda’s National Museum of Anthropology and in Dundo Museum (Dundo, Northeast Angola) one can find examples of fine Chokwe art on of the finest and most reputed in Africa.

Chokwe artists sculpted sceptres, thrones with figurines, fans, tobacco boxes, pipes, fly swats, cups, and figures of chiefs or ancestors. They were famous for their large statues of deified ancestors, exalting strength and dignity. The best-known representation of a chief is of Chibinda Ilunga. He was a wandering hunter, youngest son of the great Luba chief Kalala Ilunga. The most powerful and important Chokwe mask is known as chikunga. Highly charged with power and considered sacred, chikunga is used during investiture ceremonies of a chief and sacrifices to the ancestors. These masks are made of backcloth stretched over an armature of wickerwork, covered over with black resin and painted with red and white designs.

While in former times they probably played important roles in religious beliefs and institutional practices, many other Chokwe masks have come to be used primarily for entertainment. Itinerant actors wearing these masks travel from village to village, living on gifts received at performances. Most masks are carved of wood. During the 17th century many Chokwe chiefs were introduced to chairs imported by Portuguese officials and adopted the foreign style for their thrones.

However, Chokwe style and decoration were saved. The figures on the back, stretchers, and legs were typical Chokwe carving.
 

Basketry of Angola

Basket making is still popular among Southwest tribes. Mudimba, Mugambue, Mumuila, and Muhumbi women are among the best basket weavers in Angola.

Santiago Beach shipwrecks
One hour drive north of Luanda we find Santiago Beach, a beautiful natural enclave (unfortunately the way to the beach is accompanied by piles of garbage from nearby Luanda). In this beach more than twenty abandoned boats rot on the beach. Stunning images that give the area an ‘end-of-the-World’ aspect.
 

Music of Angola

The music of Angola has been shaped both by wider musical trends and by the political history of the country. While Angolan music has also influenced the music of the other Lusophone countries. In turn, the music of Angola was instrumental in creating and reinforcing angolanidade, the Angolan national identity.

Luanda is home to a diverse group of styles:

KilapandaZoukSembaKizomba and Kuduro. Just off the coast of Luanda is Ilha do Cabo, home to an aaccordion and harmonica-based style of music called Rebita.
Belonging to the same family as Brazilian Samba but distinct from that genre, Semba is the predecessor to a variety of music styles originating in Africa. Three of the most famous of these are Samba itself (which was created by Angolan slaves), Kizomba, and Kuduro.

The subject matter of Semba is often a cautionary tale or story regarding day-to-day life and social events and activities, usually sung in a witty rhetoric. Through Semba music, the artist is able to convey a broad spectrum of emotions. It is this characteristic that has made Semba the premiere style of music for a wide variety of Angolan social gatherings. Its versatility is evident in its inevitable presence at funerals and, on the other hand, many Angolan parties.

Semba is very much alive and popular in Angola today as it was long before that country's independence from the Portuguese colonial system on November 11, 1975. Various new Semba artists emerge each year in Angola, as they render homage to the veteran Semba masters, many of whom are still performing. Other styles related to the Semba is Rebita, which is inspired by European line dances, as well as Kazukuta and Kabetula which are primarily Carnival Music.

Barceló de Carvalho, the Angolan singer popularly known as Bonga, is arguably the most successful Angolan artist to popularize Semba music internationally; it is generally being categorized as World music.

In the 1800s Angolan musicians in the cities experimented with popular styles worldwide, including waltzes and ballads. With the first half of the 20th century came big bands, who sang in both Portuguese and Kimbundu

The first group to become known outside of Angola was Duo Ouro Negro, created in 1956. They played Kizomba (a native style based around the marimba xylophone), using the four guitars to approximate the sound of the marimba, and quilapanga.

After independence came civil war. Many popular musicians were killed, and some who were spared simply left the country.

In the early 1980s, Angolan popular music was deeply influenced by Cuban music, especially in the work of Andre MingasCuban Rumba was popular and influential across southern Africa, including Angola's neighbour Zaire (renamed the Democratic Republic of Congo), where it became the basis for soukous. In addition to the spread of recorded Cuban music, the presence of Cuban troops allied with the Marxist MPLA movement helped to popularize Cuban rhythms.
Two of the most well-known songs from Angola are Humbi Hummbi - written by Filipe Mukenga and Mushima (origin unknown). Music is of great importance in the Angolan lifestyle.
Since the end of the Civil War (1975-2002) an electronic music movement, called Kuduro, has blossomed in Angola. It combines traditional Angolan KilapangaSemba and Soca with Western house and techno.

Despite the rise of Kuduro the most popular genre today continues to be Kizomba. The Kizomba rhythm and movement is derived from an up-beat Semba, meaning ´a touch of the bellies, ´ which is a characteristic posture of the dance.

Miradouro da Lua
Miraduoro da Lua or Moon Viewpoint is one of the greatest sightseeing places in Angola. It is located south (one hour drive) from Luanda. Miraduoro da Lua boasts of breath-taking landscape which consists of rock formations created over thousands of years by rain and wind erosion. Thus, Miraduoro da Lua reminds of the surface of the moon.

Kissama National Park
With 12.000 km² Kissama or Quiçama National Park is Angola's most accessible (1h drive south of Luanda) and well-stocked wildlife park. This huge swathe of coastal savannah punctuated by gnarly baobab trees is home to elephants, zebras, giraffes, ostriches, and wildebeests imported from game reserves in South Africa and Botswana. Kissama National Park remains at the forefront of Angola's wildlife regeneration efforts despite of years of poaching and neglect during the civil war.

Kalandula Falls
Kalandula Falls lie in the course of the Lucala River and are the second highest in Africa with a drop of 105 meters. They can be photographed from above (mirador) and down.

Pedras Negras of Pungo Andongo
Pedras Negras or Black Rocks at Pungo Andongo are a series of mysterious rock formations standing high above the flat savannah. These giant black monoliths are associated with Queen Nzinga who resisted the Portuguese invasion in this area in the 17th Century.

Iona National Park
Iona National Park is one of Africa’s wildest and most virgin ecosystems. It is also one of Angola’s largest national parks, covering 15,200 km2 including the mouth of the Cunene River, Tigres Island and extensive sand spit, and about 200 km of Atlantic coastline. The fauna (decimated during the long Civil War) is composed of Springbok (Gazelle), Kudu, Ostrich, Oryx, Mountain Zebra, Impala, Klipspringer, jackal, spotted hyena, brown fur seal, and (very rare) cheetah. The park is rich in birdlife, especially along the coastal pans and river basins. Many rippled rows of sand dunes can be seen near the coast, making this vast, remote landscape a photographer’s dream.

Iona National Park is also known for its unique flora – including the stunning Welwitschia Mirabilis (one of the world’s oldest living plants) – and incredible rock formations. Iona National Park is also home to many indigenous peoples such as the Mucubal, Mucuis, Cuepe, Muhakaona, Mutua and Himba, as well as some Kimbundu groups (brought by the Portuguese as slaves from the North to build roads, railways, and ports). Most are subsistent farmers and herders who remain isolated and oblivious to the outside world. The indigenous people of this region have been studied by anthropologists, who say they are the most culturally intact on the African continent.

Tigres Island
Tigres Island also known as Angola’s Ghost Island is a small isolated and unpopulated island in the southwestern region of Angola with a land mass of 98 km².  As the largest and only sandy island off the coast of the 2000 km-long Namib Desert, it remains the least known coastal wetland along desert coast rich in shorebirds.                                                                                                                         

The Island was once a thriving commercial fishing community in the Portuguese colonial era, connected to the mainland by a small sand causeway.  The inhabitants abandoned the Island in 1974 to escape the strong wind, lack of drinking water and the transportation difficulties to the mainland.  Filled with hundreds of abandoned Portuguese-style buildings and properties, the structures are now being enveloped by the continual blowing sand. Though the waters surrounding the island are very rich in fish stocks, the location is renowned for its birdlife. Two surveys of the Island region in 1999 and 2001 indicated a rich wetland bird diversity consisting of 25 species and a bird density of 33 birds per square kilometre. The Island is only visited now by adventure-seeking tourist groups.

Serra da Chela and Leba Pass
One of the top places to hike and admire amazing views over Namib Desert is Serra da Chela. It consists of a mountain range rising to 2,306 meters above the coastal plains, separating the Huíla Plateau of the interior from the low-lying coastal Namib Desert. Interesting flora and fauna can be found in its desne forests and the Nguendelengo tribal group that lives in deep valleys inside this mountain range. There are two ways to cross Serra da Chela by car; through Bibala in a recently constructed road and trough the famous Leba Pass. It is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 1.845 meters above the sea level. The road to the top is asphalted and pretty steep.

Tunda Vala
Tunda Vala is a breath-taking gorge cut out of the Serra da Chela mountain range looking towards the Namib Desert valley. A concrete viewing platform has been built at the point where a deep ravine slices into the edge of the vertical cliff. At the bottom of the cliff some 1,000 meters below is a wide green plateau punctuated with odd-shaped hills that stretches to the sea over 130 kilometers away at Namibe. To get a feel for the height of the cliff, toss a stone over the edge and count until it hits the bottom – usually about eight seconds. Here, above the clouds, the air is clear and you may see the occasional eagle and monkey.

Luengue-Luiana National Park 
Luengue-Luiana National Park is the largest park in Angola with 30,000 km2, roughly the size of Belgium. The park is part of the larger Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA), the biggest protected area in Africa comprising also Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The Angola side is still wild and difficult to visit for tourists but the potential is enormous. A National Geographic visited the park in 2017, surveying water quality, plant and animal species and human impact on the environment. They started the two-month expedition at the source of the Cubango river, which supplies much of the water in Botswana's Okavango Delta, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Mount Moco
At 2.620 meters, is the highest mountain in Angola. Known in Portuguese as Morro do Moco this natural site is Angola’s top destination for birdwatchers. Mount Moco is home to many birds, with around 233 species recorded at the site. It has been designated an Important Bird Area (IBA) by BirdLife International and is part of the Western Angola Endemic Bird Area.
The mountain provides a home for a number of endangered and threatened bird species including the Swiersta's Francolin (Pternistis swierstrai), Angola Cave Chat (Xenocopsychus ansorgei), Angola Slaty Flycatcher (Dioptrornis brunneus) and Ludwig's Double-collared Moco is also ideal for hikes (spectacular views from the top).
 
Cangandala National Park
Last refuge of the Giant Sable Antelope (hippotragus niger variani) in Angola.
Also known in Portuguese as the palanca-negra-gigante, is a large, rare subspecies of sable antelope native and endemic to Cangandala region in Angola.

There was a great degree of uncertainty regarding the number of animals that survived during the Angolan Civil War. In January 2004, a team of Angolan naturalists was able to obtain photographic evidence of one of the remaining herds from a series of trap cameras installed in the Cangandala National Park.

The giant sable antelope is a national symbol of Angola and is portrayed on numerous stamps, banknotes, and even passports of the nation. The Angola national football team is fondly known as the Palancas Negras in honour of the antelope.

The giant sable antelope is evaluated as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

TRAVEL INFORMATION


Angola Visa
A valid passport and a visa are required for travel to Angola. Applications for visas can be made online (pre-visa) or in advance in the travelers’ home country. Last Places assists all travelers that need any type of help applying for the online visa or at the embassy. We recommend that passports be valid for six months from date of arrival.



Vaccines and Travel Health
A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is essential for entry to Angola. Malaria is prevalent in the country. It is wise to take Malaria prophylaxis when travelling through Angola. Water supply is unsafe to drink, visitors should drink bottle water. Visitors should also avoid eating unpeeled, unwashed fruit and vegetables. The milk in Angola is unpasteurized and should be boiled; alternatively use tinned milk reconstituted with bottle water.


Security in Angola
Angola is a safe country in general terms. Land mines have been removed from most of the country except in some remote regions of Cuando Cuvango where Last Places does not normally travel to. We recommend to be aware of pick pocketing in crowded streets of Luanda and not to walk around city centre too late in the night if you are not accompanied by a local guide or group of local friends that are familiar with the streets of Luanda. It is strongly recommended not to drive during the night in the countryside because of the potential risk of your car hitting a wild or domestic animal.


When to go to Angola
Travelers can visit Angola all year around. Last Places Angola offers trips to Angola all year around. Said this, dry season –from June till November- allows the traveller visit all tribal areas while whet season – from December till May- may limit the visit to certain region such as Oncocua. Southwest Angola, where most of the tourism attractions are concentrated, enjoys mild weather during most of the year with daylight temperatures of 24-30 ? that can come down to 10 ? during the night and early hours.


Currency in Angola                                                                                           
The unit of currency is the Kwanza (AOA). Visitors should bring enough cash for their needs. Money can be exchanged at the airport or at the bank. Euros and newly issued US dollars are changed without any problem. Credit cards are only accepted in larger hotels, and cash withdrawals are not possible. Few ATMs in Luanda accept foreign cards.



Time in Angola
GMT +1



Electricity in Angola
Electrical current in Angola is 220 volts, 50Hz. Round pin attachment plugs are in use.



Communications in Angola
The international dialing code for Angola is +244. There are many more mobile telephones than fixed lines and the mobile coverage around Luanda and other main centers is much more reliable than fixed lines. Internet access is available at most major hotels.


Language in Angola
The official language of Angola is Portuguese. About 60 other African languages are spoken. Some French and Spanish is also spoken.



Prohibitions in Angola
Do not take photographs of government buildings, or use binoculars near them, as this could lead to arrest.

SET DEPARTURES TO Angola Angola

Colonial Heritage, tribes and landscapes

Angola is a new country after the civil war (1975-2005) that ravaged the country. Open to tourism since 2008 Angola offers some of Africa’s most spectacular tribal groups, stunning natural landscapes, and a rich colonial heritage dating from the Portuguese era. Angola is still virgin, unique and in this tour we combine ethnography and nature so that the traveler understands this different Africa.

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Colonial architecture and ethnography

Angola is a new country after the civil war (1975-2005) that ravaged the country. Open to tourism since 2008 Angola offers some of Africa’s most spectacular tribal groups, stunning natural landscapes, and a rich colonial heritage dating from the Portuguese era. Angola is still virgin, unique and in this tour we combine ethnography and nature so that the traveler understands this different Africa.

View Trip Details

Colonial Heritage, ethnic groups, and landscapes

Angola is a new country after the civil war (1975-2005) that ravaged the country. Open to tourism since 2008 Angola offers some of Africa’s most spectacular tribal groups, stunning natural landscapes, and a rich colonial heritage dating from the Portuguese era. Angola is still virgin, unique and in this tour we combine ethnography and nature so that the traveler understands this different Africa.

View Trip Details

Colonial Heritage, tribes, and desert

Angola is a new country after the civil war (1975-2005) that ravaged the country. Open to tourism since 2008 Angola offers some of Africa’s most spectacular tribal groups, stunning natural landscapes, and a rich colonial heritage dating from the Portuguese era. Angola is still virgin, unique and in this tour we combine ethnography and nature so that the traveler understands this different Africa.

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Angola and Namibia August

Angola is a new country after the civil war (1975-2005) that ravaged the country. Open to tourism since 2008 Angola offers some of Africa’s most spectacular tribal groups, stunning natural landscapes, and a rich colonial heritage dating from the Portuguese era. Angola is still virgin, unique and in this tour we combine ethnography and nature so that the traveler understands this different Africa.

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Namibia and Angola

Angola is a new country after the civil war (1975-2005) that ravaged the country. Open to tourism since 2008 Angola offers some of Africa’s most spectacular tribal groups, stunning natural landscapes, and a rich colonial heritage dating from the Portuguese era. Angola is still virgin, unique and in this tour we combine ethnography and nature so that the traveler understands this different Africa.

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Tribes, nature, and architecture

The good traveler is usually fascinated by places that give off a new aroma and flavor. Angola has that, it's a big, huge country ... unknown to the rest of the world, but that will change shortly. It is necessary to go now that it is in effervescence of change to taste the inheritance of a brutal civil war, absurd and too long, and of the colonial past, still very present among mulattos, blacks and toasted whites. The weight of history is there and marks the present and we do not know to what extent the future, but its nature is recovering and the tribal cattle peoples of the south continue to resist changing times in their own way. Angola is a country that is reinventing itself, it is fascinating and mysterious and worth exploring with a good local guide that we are still forming.

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Land of culture and body decoration

The good traveler is usually fascinated by places that give off a new aroma and flavor. Angola has that, it's a big, huge country ... unknown to the rest of the world, but that will change shortly. It is necessary to go now that it is in effervescence of change to taste the inheritance of a brutal civil war, absurd and too long, and of the colonial past, still very present among mulattos, blacks and toasted whites. The weight of history is there and marks the present and we do not know to what extent the future, but its nature is recovering and the tribal cattle peoples of the south continue to resist changing times in their own way. Angola is a country that is reinventing itself, it is fascinating and mysterious and worth exploring with a good local guide that we are still forming.

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Tour in Angola

 

-Architecture "Modern Tropical ’of Luanda and Lubango

-Gastronomy (African, Portuguese and Brazilian fusion)

-Music (Semba, Kizomba, Kapoeira ...)

-10 traditional tribes

-Jungle and desert landscapes

-Tchowke masks

-Ethnographic museums

-Lack of tourism

 
 

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