Logistical platform to boost trade in Luau Municipality

The Angolan Government is creating conditions in order to implement a logistical platform in Luau Municipality of Moxico Province, to boost trade in this eastern region of the country.

According to the municipal administrator of Luau, Filomena Aires, it is also foreseen the construction of convenience stores, parking areas and other services.

“The President of the Republic has issued an order authorizing the construction of the road linking Luau-Lumeje Kameia, and Luau-Alto Zambeze”, she explained.

She informed also that the National Plan for Promotion of Grain Production (PLANAGRÃO) is another project that is part of the Executive´s actions, for which he invited the entrepreneurs to invest in the municipality.

Filomena Aires said that Luau international airport is available, as well as the road 180 which connects the provinces of Moxico and Lunda Sul, that is already paved and in good condition.

Regarding tourism, she said that the municipality has several places to explore, for example the old village of Luau and the falls of Saipaco.

She added that the bridge over Luau river that separates Angola from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will be replaced as it is already old.

For both ways, it is estimated that more than 500 people cross it daily.

Meanwhile, the inspector and commander of the Border Police, Jorge Joseph, assured that the crossing of the bridge by the population from 8 am to 5:17 pm is done safely.

On his turn the director of the Municipal Office of Culture, Tourism, Youth and Sports, Mani Paulo, advocated the creation of infrastructure such as bars, restaurants and resorts, for tourists to have somewhere for leisure, apart from enjoying the beautiful natural landscapes and making photographs for souvenirs.

“This is the second visit of excursionists in the region. Foreign tourists have already been here from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in the South African luxury train, Rovos Rail”, he said.

According to Mani Paulo, the border bridge is located about ten kilometers from the town of Luau and the area is still unknown to most Angolan citizens.

Source: Angola Press News Agency (APNA)

Angola’s 1977 massacre: Tragic twist for orphans of mass killings

Decades of silence and fear followed the 1977 massacre of perhaps as many as 90,000 people in Angola, but as the families of the disappeared started to speak out, demanding answers, the government took action in an attempt to promote reconciliation. Though in some cases its attempts appear to have gone cruelly wrong.

Short presentational grey line

For João Ernesto van Dunem it was like his parents had been killed for a second time.

First, hopes were raised for the man who was orphaned when he was three months’ old.

Angola’s justice minister appeared on national television last year to announce that the remains of his mother and father had been found after 45 years, along with those of other people.

“I thought maybe finally I would have my parents back,” he tells the BBC. Sita Valles and José Van Dunem were two of the leaders of an uprising in 1977.

They were young members of the MPLA government disaffected by what they saw as the venality of their colleagues. What exactly happened that May is still a source of controversy.

The exhumation of the bones of those who had been dumped in mass graves was supposed to be part of a process of official reckoning.

But Mr Van Dunem’s hopes for answers have since been crushed.

After an official investigation identified the remains, a separate independent team of forensic anthropologists said the bodies were in fact not connected to him.

“I asked myself whether the Angolan authorities were trying to retraumatise my family? Was it intentional? How could they do this to us after all these years of pain?” asks Mr Van Dunem, an economist currently based in Lisbon.

In 2018, he and other orphans of the massacre set up an association, M27, demanding the truth about what happened, the recovery of their parents’ remains and the issuing of death certificates

A year later, the Angolan government broke its silence.

President João Lourenço established a commission to investigate acts of political violence since independence in 1975, including the events of 1977 and the 27-year war with Unita rebels which ended in 2002.

On 26 May 2021, Mr Lourenço issued a public apology for the massacre and asked for forgiveness for what he described as “the great evil”.

Bulldozers started digging up bodies and a Brazilian geographer was flown in to identify them.

The orphans were horrified when footage of the unearthing of skulls and other bones was shown on television.

They refused a request from the authorities to provide their DNA to help identify the remains, insisting on an independent inquiry.

Then, the government declared the remains had been found of four key figures in the uprising, including its main leader, Nito Alves. Their families accepted the bodies, which were buried in a state funeral on June 2022 attended by senior government officials, the coffins draped in shiny Angolan flags.

Shortly afterwards came the television announcement that the bones of Mr Van Dunem’s parents, uncle and other leading figures in the events of 1977 had been found and would be returned to their relatives.

But none of the families agreed to take the government’s word that the remains were genuine.

They hired a team of investigators led by renowned forensic scientist Prof Duarte Nuno Vieira of Portugal’s Coimbra University. He has been involved in dozens of international missions, including in Colombia, Mexico and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

‘Bones talk a lot’

Given the final outcome of their investigations, it is in many ways surprising the Angolan authorities let them in.

“Independence and transparency are the keystones of our work,” says Prof Vieira.

“Families of the disappeared must be involved from the outset. Otherwise there is no trust. Unfortunately this was not the case in Angola.”

Prof Vieira says he has never heard of the Brazilian employed by the government. None of his many colleagues in Brazil have heard of him either.

When his team arrived in Angola, they were taken to a room full of bags of jumbled up bones – these were the remains that the justice minister had referred to.

“Bones talk a lot,” says the forensic scientist.

“Our job is to make bodies speak to us. The way they are lying when we find them tells us part of the story of what happened to them. If they are dug up with an excavator, like they were in Angola, a lot of information is lost.”

After the teams assembled the bones, they found that two of the bodies belonged to women.

They told Mr Van Dunem one of them could be his mother.

But when they tested the remains against the relatives’ DNA, not a single one matched.

Two of the bodies were those of children. One had an amputation performed years before the person died. None of those named by the government were amputees.

The soil on the bones did not match the earth where the excavations took place.

Others faced similar devastation to Mr Van Dunem.

“When the authorities said they had found the remains of my father, our family was ecstatic,” says Rui Tukayana, who now works as a journalist in Portugal.

“Some of my uncles posted on Facebook that finally we could bury with dignity the body of their brother. That finally our souls could be at peace.”

Mr Tukayana never knew his father, Rui Coelho, because he was born three months after he was taken away.

“When the independent team found this was not his body, it was like we lost him for a second time,” he says, echoing Mr Van Dunem’s sentiments.

It is possible the remains of the disappeared will never be found.

Struggle for the truth

“We must not forget that at the time, it was common practice to drop bodies into the sea from planes,” says Prof Vieira.

Mr Van Dunem says one of the reasons the truth is so hard to uncover is that some powerful people in Angola have a lot to hide.

“Some of the people involved in the killings are still alive, some with significant roles in Angolan politics today.”

The authorities have been told about the independent experts’ findings. So far they have said nothing. Efforts to contact them for the purposes of this article have been met with silence.

The M27 group of orphans has described the government’s actions as an “exercise in cruelty”.

They say they have been condemned to live as “children of shadows” who “know their parents only through old photographs, some so faded that it is impossible to see what they looked like”.

They are currently discussing what to do next.

One thing is clear: they will not give up.

“The government’s behaviour has made us more determined than ever,” says Mr Van Dunem.

“I don’t regret what we are doing, however painful it is. Tribute has to be paid to a whole generation of Angolans who paid the highest price for dreaming of a different country where everyone could have a place.”

Source: BBC

Football: Seychelles take on Bangladesh in two friendly matches

The Seychelles national football team will meet Bangladesh in two friendly games on Saturday, March 25, and Tuesday, March 28, in search of a win after nine winless games.

The Seychelles’ side has not tasted victory since winning the Mahinda Rajapaksa Cup in November 2021, where they defeated Sri Lanka on penalties.

Led by coached by Vivian Both, the Seychelles Pirates have lost six of their nine matches and played out three goalless draws.

The last time these two sides met, the game ended in a 1-1 draw, after Brandon Labrosse scored for Seychelles in the 88th minute to cancel out Mohammad Ibrahim’s 17th-minute opener.

Seychelles will be hoping to do better in Bangladesh in these two games, with a 23-man team made of several new faces, as the team also prepares for the upcoming Indian Ocean Island Games (IOIG).

“We also have some new players, so it will give the team’s management the chance to see how they gel,” said Both.

He added that it was advantageous to hold these test matches early in the year because it would give the administration time to make adjustments as needed.

Among the 23 players, two of them are based in England, most notable is Burton Albion defensive midfielder Michael Mancienne and defender Daryl Louis, who plays for English 9th-tier side Abingdon United.

The matches, according to coach Both, will give him the chance to see his players competing as a team for the first time since their last competitive match against San Marino last year, which finished in a scoreless draw.

The two matches will contribute towards the two team’s FIFA rankings, where currently Seychelles lie in 199th place, while Bangladesh is 192nd, having lost 7 of their nine previous matches.

Bangladesh is coached by Spaniard Javier Cabrera, who previously worked with Barcelona and Deportivo Alavés.


Seychelles’ Blue Investment Fund issues first large-scale loan to Ocean Basket

One of Seychelles’ by-catch processing companies, Ocean Basket, is now able to increase its domestic fish processing capacity with an over $2.8 million (SCR40.7 million) loan under the Blue Investment Fund scheme, supported by the government of Seychelles and the World Bank.

The loan is the first-of-its-kind, large-scale one to be issued by the Development Bank of Seychelles (DBS) to a Seychellois business to expand the plant and purchase equipment for cleaning, sanitising, and vacuum-packing fish products, as well as preparing them for export to markets in Europe, North America, and West Africa.

Ocean Basket’s co-owner Louis Bossy said in a press release from the bank that “I am very happy that I could secure funds to expand my business in my home country because at the end of the day, Ocean Basket is a Seychellois business, and I want it to benefit my country.”

Expanding the business will not only allow the company to switch to higher-value fish products but also allow it to take on fish processing and exporting for local fishers.

“We can be the chain link that connects Seychellois fishers to foreign markets. We can take their catch, prepare it, and then use our distribution system to sell it,” said Bossy.

The Blue Investment Fund was launched in 2019 to support the expansion of sustainable fisheries in Seychelles. It is open to all Seychellois citizens as well as locally registered civil society organisations and businesses that are at least 51 percent Seychellois-owned.

Businesses and entrepreneurs who provide services to sustainable fisheries, including fish processing, laboratories and testing, logistics, marketing, and aquaculture are eligible for the loans.

The fund is capitalised from the proceeds of the world’s first sovereign Blue Bond that Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean launched in October 2018. This innovative financing instrument raised $15 million with the specific goal of supporting the transition to sustainable fisheries in Seychelles.

DBS’ head of credit, Rana Fernandes, said that the Blue Investment Fund is a unique product.

“It offers loans from just $10,000 to $3 million to meet the needs of businesses of any size. It is also affordable – at a 4 percent interest rate, it is the best offer for large loans in Seychelles,” said Fernandes.

The World Bank country director for Seychelles, Mauritius, Madagascar, Comoros, and Mozambique, Idah Z. Pswarayi-Riddihough, said, “It is fantastic to see that the proceeds of such a relatively new financial instrument like the Blue Bond are making their way to the community. We are looking forward to more local businesses benefitting from these affordable loans and hope that they will create a ripple effect and boost other economic sectors, too.”