After the massive success of the previous post (thank you for all the kind words 🙂 ), we decided to make a follow-up post about ten interesting facts about Angola & the Angolan people. Again, these are things that, to the foreigner, seem interesting, weird, or simply funny.
10 Fun and interesting facts about Angola and Angolans
In Angola, the steering wheel is on the left, and you drive on the right (not weird or exciting, we know, but bear with us…) except when you have two or more lanes… then you drive on the left lane and overtake through the right!! This is obviously not the formal rule, but it’s how everyone actually drives, and I have never seen anyone being pulled over by the police for this.
It’s actually funny to see newcomers trying to drive on the right lane and being frustrated that everyone else is driving “wrong,” only to give in after a few days and do it like everybody else.
2. Some buildings are more than meets the eye
Buildings aren’t always what they look like from the outside. Luanda only has two kinds of buildings: the new shiny and design buildings, like the new headquarters of Total and Sonangol, and the ancient, war survivor buildings.
These buildings suffered from time going by, the civil war, and a complete lack of maintenance, at least on the outside and in common areas. When you look at these buildings, you think: “there’s no way I’m gonna live in there!”, “How can they charge 3000 USD for this!?”, “There’s no way I’m even getting in there to check it out.”
The interesting part is that sometimes if you get past this, you’ll see that the inside the apartments are as new, completely restored by the owners and usually with very stylish furniture and the latest TVs, sound systems, fridges and so on…
There are only 2 seasons in the year, summer and “cacimbo.” Cacimbo is more or less like winter, slightly colder and grey you can’t see the sun, it’s the dry season because it doesn’t rain.
It starts from May to August, in this period, there often occurs an intense fog, also called “cacimba,” which gives the name to the season. Summer is very hot and humid, usually, it rains in summer, and when it rains, it’s a tropical storm!
In Luanda, there are fantastic restaurants where you can eat very well, usually having to pay way too much. But no matter how expensive or suitable the restaurant is, one thing is similar in all of them. The service is so slow it can be exasperating! The waiting staff seems to take so much time to meet any of your requests… whether it is the drinks, the starters, dessert or coffee or even the bill!
But there’s one exception, there’s one thing that barely every waiter is really fast: removing your plate from the table! Sometimes so fast that you barely have finished eating. More than once, we (and our friends) asked the waiter not to remove the plate because we hadn’t even finished…
Angolans have the unusual habit of liking weird and complicated names. Sometimes it looks like a competition of who can create the most difficult or unique name… some people seem to over-complicate the name by adding letters or substituting the usual letter with another, C for K or an I for Y. Example: A girl named Catia, would be Katya or even Katyana.
There are even people who name their child with the beginning of the mother’s name and the end of the father’s and vice-versa.
In Angola, breakfast is truly the most important meal of the day! Forget about everything you read about healthy eating and great breakfast… After a few years here, I’m still amazed both by the huge portions that the Angolans eat for the breakfast; and by the kind of food they eat.
While I’m used to having coffee, milk, or tea, eating bread or cheese, and even eating yogurt or scrambled eggs. Every day we see Angolan have a full meal with beef or fish sided with beans and funge.
Curious about Angolan Food? Check our guide here!
7. Transit / Traffic Jam
If there is one thing that no one will ever miss about Luanda is its traffic. The city of Luanda was planned to have 600 000 people, nowadays it has 6 000 000, so you can imagine what happened.
There are so many cars and so many taxi vans that you cannot drive inside the city without traffic. The six million don’t live in downtown Luanda, but most of them work there, so the morning and evening commute is insane.
If you live in the suburbs, you have two solutions, you put up with between 1:30 to 3:00 every morning and every night, or you wake up early… and when we say early, we mean 4 to 5 am… and only get marginal (but still) traffic. As we usually say, Luanda is the true city that never sleeps, there’s always traffic!
Finally, there are those weird jams that no one understands, we once took roughly 3 hours to make 300 meters… We just couldn’t move, there were cars everywhere. We were literally trapped. Good old times 🙂
8. Children in Angola
In Angolan culture and most African cultures, having children defines the social status of a person. An Angolan man isn’t really a man if he isn’t able to have kids, his masculinity is measured by the number of children he has. On the other hand, a woman needs to have children to feel fulfilled and to please her husband. The more, the better!
I admit it took me a while to understand how important this is to them. I really thought it was a generalization, or in other words, a biased prejudice from foreigners. The fertility rate has been decreasing in the last few years, but it’s still one of the biggest in the world, each woman has an average of 5.9 births!
9. Religions in Angola
There are two things that I really avoid discussing in Angola, politics and religion, especially in the workplace. I make these topics taboo and make sure that they are avoided.
I will make an exception here just to note how many religions, churches, sects, and cults there are in Angola. As per Wikipedia, there are over 1000 religions in Angola… I have met Baptists, Methodists, Congregational, Adventists, Pentecostals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Neopentecostals (IURD, who came from Brazil), Muslims, etc… It’s such a massive pot of different beliefs!!
And we are excluding from this the African ones, but we have to be honest, I haven’t really met an Angolan that genuinely believes in these religions, although they may know and use some rites.
10. Money management
OK, you may think of this as prejudice and generalization, but after more than two years in Angola and working daily for five years with Angolans, most Angolans have huge problems with saving money!! This has been told to me many times by Angolans themselves.
At first, I couldn’t understand, “if you know that you should save… why don’t you”? Then after several explanations over time from very different people, I understood most of the time, It’s not that they can’t or don’t want to. There’s just too much pressure from the family they help out. It’s expected that the family leader provides for all the family, even distant relatives.
A close co-worker told me that she preferred to ask for a loan to buy a car than to save for a year and buy it “cheaper.” Just because she knew she wouldn’t be able to save if she didn’t have the bank obligation. She would give in to her peers and family pressure. I have had suppliers not want to be paid later because they preferred to be paid later to save easier…
These were the most interesting facts about Angola that we gathered while living and working in Angola. If you want to read more about Angola, please check the following:
1 thought on “The 10 most fun and interesting facts about Angola and Angolan people”
It was just an example, because it’s an international name… not because it’s overly common. The argument is the opposite, Angolan’s like to name their kids complicated names.
Thank for commenting but don’t be condescending… you aren’t the lord of the truth
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