Ver Angola

Society

Cafunfo: a land rich in diamonds and misery

It takes many hours on the road from Luanda to Cafunfo, the mining town where on Saturday the streets were stained with blood, in an alleged “act of rebellion” that placed the remote place of Angola under the eyes of human rights defenders.

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The 750 kilometers of distance between Lunda and Cafunfo are misleading. In fact, the route that would take less than 12 hours requires you to spend almost two days on the trip due to the poor state of the road, where, between ravines and craters, the lack of lighting does not recommend night trips.

From a village located in one of Angola's main diamond regions, more was expected. But here, the main road is a muddy and bumpy road where there are almost no cars. There is no water, no electricity, the only restaurant is located in the only inn and the commerce, mainly informal, is made of cheap and useful items for the 90 thousand people who live here, not used to luxuries.


Right next door, Sociedade Mineira do Cuango, which owns the state-owned diamond company Endiama and the companies Lumanhe and ITMMining, have already produced over two million carats of diamonds since production began in 2005. Many residents risk their lives in the illegal mining in search of precious gems, but the vast majority will never be able to free themselves from poverty.

Last Saturday, the village became news for the deaths that occurred during clashes with the police. Catholic bishops and NGOs speak of a massacre, with an estimated number of at least ten killed, but the police counted only seven and accused elements of the Lunda Tchokwe Protectorate movement of inciting an attack on a squadron.

For the residents of Cafunfo heard by Lusa, at the origin of the deaths, there was an attempt to demonstrate through which the population wanted to draw attention to their living conditions.

"We are feeling sick," complains Rossana da Silva, who is looking for family members who have been missing since the weekend. "There are many of our family members who died here. So far, there are other bodies that are not seeing, does it hurt the heart or not?", She says.

At the age of 26, unemployed, Rossana claims that she was not part of the march that, she says, served to denounce the misery of the village, installed in one of the richest places in Angola: "We work from our sweat, the road is not in conditions, no we have water, we have no one to support us, we have no one to support us ".

The "government here doesn’t support it at all. If it did, this road shouldn’t be like this and Cafunfo should be organized", she indignantly points out the path in poor condition and full of garbage and the poor and poorly maintained houses around .

Castro 'Carlito', 22, also regrets the deaths. "It was very sad, we lost people, fathers, mothers, because of claiming their rights, they were attacked", says the young man, recalling that "all Cafunfo was agitated".

According to him, he told Lusa, the police were not letting the population go to the streets: "we were all at home closed, just try to get out and arrest, abuse and put them in the cell".

'Carlito' criticizes the wealth gap and is indignant at the lack of compensation for the residents by the diamond companies, which extract the wealth from the soil where he was born: "We don't know where he is going, nothing is left, who knows it is the State itself, it is the Government ".

What he knows is that the roads are bad, there are no jobs, schools are poorly built and hospitals have no medicines, he says.

Many young people dedicate themselves to "dig diamonds", the artisanal mining, but "they are run by the security of the mining area" and many end up dead.

"It is the State itself that can calm this population, we just want roads, water and electricity and jobs, that's what we want", he asks.

Gomes da Conceição, 20, is accompanied by other students, all of whom are critical of the police action. "The people here in Lundas have suffered many well-being problems, due to the lack of water, light. The population must have minimum conditions to survive and now they have revolted", he justifies.

The student says that the leaders of the movement "only want the freedom of the people", because the population "lives in a horrible way", in comparison with the underground wealth.

"How do natural resources come out of here, like diamonds, and the government does nothing, everything is dirty. Here in the municipality of Cuango we have nothing, the population is suffering", he laments, disillusioned by the abandonment left by the political power of a distant Luanda, which boasts the diamonds of Lundas as one of the symbols of Angola's wealth.

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