After the institutional ceremony this Monday morning, in which the President of the Republic, João Lourenço, paid tribute to his predecessor. The doors of Memorial Dr. António Agostinho Neto, the place chosen for the public wake in the capital, opened at 2 pm to all citizens who wanted to say goodbye to the former head of state who ruled Angola for 38 years.
With negotiations on the transfer of the body still dragging on in Barcelona, Spain, and without the physical presence of the urn, the wake took place without great emotional intensity, with several citizens heard by Lusa defending the delivery of the remains to Angola.
People from organizations linked to the MPLA, such as the Organization of Angolan Women (OMA), and religious groups such as the Tocoistas, an African church founded by Simão Toco, on whom the Portuguese colonial authorities imposed forced exile in the Azores in the 1990s, came to the site. 1960.
The queues along the outer wall of the monumental complex where the remains of the first president of Angola rest advanced in an orderly manner and without major constraints, with everyone being provided with a mask against covid-19, and with prior passage through a disinfection tunnel before leaving. access the tribute tent.
In the absence of the body to watch, the memory of José Eduardo dos Santos was present through a huge photograph next to which flowers were being deposited and before which some citizens knelt.
Among the many anonymous citizens, the fragile figure of Agostinho Neto's widow, Eugénia Neto, stood out, who, in the book of condolences, wished peace to "Comrade José Eduardo dos Santos", whom the people will remember "forever with nostalgia".
Eugénia Neto admitted that "not everything was good", but underlined that at this moment of farewell the people "wish him to be in peace and he will be remembered forever with gratitude".
"We all feel sadness, he was head of state all these years, he had a difficult role replacing Agostinho Neto, we have a duty to remember him with affection and nostalgia", she said.
Asked about the differences between the Angolan regime and some of the former president's children regarding the funeral, she considered that the family "has its role", but defended that the government, in particular the President, has a duty to help Eduardo dos Santos to return to their homeland.
"Let's see the negotiations, let's hope everything goes well. I don't know what the daughters' reasons are, or Tchizé's [one of the daughters who accuses João Lourenço of being the moral author of her father's death], I don't know if what's happening is hallucination. to say, if there is something that makes her do this or if there is something that disturbed her, but I think he should rest in peace here, in his homeland", defended the widow of the first president of Angola.
For citizen Carlos Gunza, the former head of state was "a leader" who knew how to end hostilities and reach peace after a long period of civil war that lasted almost 30 years, making it desirable to return to the country.
"Being President of a Republic, we have to think that it is not just the family that is feeling the loss, we, as Angolans, feel that this man must be honored and that he must have the funeral in his own country", he declared. to Lusa.
The citizen stressed that the "nation will feel sad if the funeral does not pass through here, in the land where he gave his all, from the war to independence".
That is why he wants the funeral to take place in Angola: "We hope that the children feel that we also feel the loss of their father, we feel the loss of a father of the nation".
Despite the public disagreements between the Government and her daughters - Isabel, who is facing several legal proceedings, and Tchizé, who lost her mandate as MPLA deputy, say they are victims of political persecution and have not entered Angola for several years - considers that the issues must be dealt with at another time.
"They [the children] have to come. When we have a problem, we deal with that problem and the other problem is left for another opportunity. According to our ancestors, this was how the matter was treated. , I know the house where you live, I can meet you there, so then we will solve that old matter that we already have. In my way of thinking, what we learn from our elders is like this", he opined.
Maria do Rosário Silva, resident in Portugal, took advantage of her vacation in Luanda to say goodbye to "who will always be president, José Eduardo dos Santos", who she remembers as "a great statesman".
"The deeds he did for the country may not have been all the best, but that he was a great statesman, a great president, he was," she stressed.
She looks at the disputes between the Government and her eldest daughters "with great pity and a lot of heartache", saying that the former president should be honored with the coffin in Luanda, so that "he could come and rest in his land, which he loved so much".
"I hope that it is still done, I hope that there is common sense and that the funeral is held here in Angola. For the Angolan people it is important that he be buried in Angola, we already have the first president here and this is where his land is, the country that ruled for so many years, it makes no sense to be buried in another country", considered Maria do Rosário Silva.
The Government declared that it intends to hold a state funeral in Luanda, a decision opposed by one of the eldest daughters, Tchizé dos Santos, stating that this was not the will of the father, and that José Eduardo dos Santos did not want to be buried in Angola. while João Lourenço is in power.
Angola will observe national mourning for seven days which means that in public institutions the flags are placed at half mast.
Political, sporting and cultural events are also prohibited, which has already forced the cancellation of rallies that the main parties had scheduled for Saturday, as well as the postponement of festivals, musical shows and meetings that were scheduled for this week.