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Straight to Luanda

17 April 2008 | 13:47 | English | Leave a comment
And suddeny I find myself in high society company with a glass of champagne in my hand... (picture Caro Bonink)It is more than symbolic, Lufthansa's first flight straight to the Angolan capital. From now on every week a plane will fly from Frankfurt am Main, the European financial center, to Luanda. Yesterday afternoon the first flight was being celebrated with lots of champagne and diplomats in a luxurious restaurant on the Luandan beach – a cocktail party that made photographer Caro Bonink and me almost feel like society journalists. Angola's booming economy hasn't remained unnoticed in Europe, and many businessmen can't wait to get their hands on some of the loot. Hence this time it's the Angolans who call the shots. The Germans would love to cover the new destination three times a week, but the Angolan government is not indulging. Because of the country's mineral resources (gigantic oil reserves which in Africa are only surpassed by those of Nigeria) the Angolans are being courted by so many foreign partners that the choice is theirs.

City Life in Africa

05 April 2008 | 16:42 | English | Leave a comment
Car in downtown LuandaFour pairs of black legs are dangling from underneath the half open rear door, which is tied with a piece of rope. Two passengers' heads are sticking out of the frayed holes on both sides of the minibus. I have plenty of time to check out this typically Congolese form of public transportation, because the traffic is jammed, as always on a Saturdaynight in Kinshasa. Seven million people are living in the overpopulated capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a city once built for some tens of thousands. It is November 2006. As watch in amazement how the apparent chaos in this enormous town manages to organize itself, the idea for my new book on urbanisation in Africa is born. The coming year-and-a-half I'm going to live in six different African cities, starting with Luanda, the Angolan capital where I arrived a couple of days ago. The making of this book you can follow in the Dutch national newspaper nrc.next. If you read Dutch, that is. But of course I'll also update this blog in English regularly.