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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 February 2006, 10:56 GMT
Making way for Angola's middle class
By Sarah Grainger
BBC, Luanda

Lucas Kaxingadoes
Most in Luanda cannot afford the new houses being built
The Angolan capital of Luanda is home to five million people, about a quarter of the country's entire population, with most living in "musseques" or slums.

One of those used to be Lucas Kaxingadoes, who has lived in Bairro Cambamba on the southern outskirts of Luanda for several years and where some families occupied the land 30 years ago.

His family began by farming the land and built houses with whatever materials they could find.

But they also took manual jobs in the city, saving what they could and eventually building houses made of concrete.

Lucas, however, doesn't have a house any longer.

His home, like many others, was cleared to make way for new property to house the country's burgeoning middle class.

Advert for Luanda Sul homes
Billboards advertise the controversial new homes being built

Lucas says policemen came and destroyed his home and those of his neighbours in an effort to clear the land to make way for new developments.

Maria Francisco, who has also been left without shelter, tells a similar tale about the police: "During December they came several times. They were aggressive."

There are plans to use the land where Lucas and Maria live to build the next phase of a project called Luanda Sul.

Neat and tidy

Already thousands of homes have been built as part of this initiative on land surrounding Bairro Cambamba.

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Luanda slums
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They are very expensive looking. They're surrounded by high walls and fences, they all have car ports, there are big satellite dishes on many of them and the roads are all paved.

Everything is very neat and tidy.

The head of planning for the provincial government of Luanda, Helder Jose, says that the government is trying to improve the living conditions of the capitals' slum dwellers with initiatives like Luanda Sul.

"The project basically involves building another city. It's a self-financing project but at its heart it has a certain philosophy.

"Companies who want to buy land to build on have to agree to certain terms. Yes, some of the houses are condominiums but they are also building cheap housing."

Recognition

But Lucas and Maria say they could never afford even the cheapest of the properties being built in Luanda Sul.

What they want is recognition that the land being sold to the construction companies is theirs and they should decide if and when it is developed and take a share in any profits.

Map of the Angolan capital Luanda showing the slum area of Bairro Cambamba
Thousands of homes have already been built on land surrounding Bairro Cambamba

The provincial government doesn't recognise this though.

Mr Jose explains why the government wants to change the anarchic way in which housing has been built in these areas:

"We're really sad about the way many of these people living on the outskirts of Luanda have built houses without regulation. If we allow the land to be built on in this way it's going to complicate things in the future."

However Maria Francisco says the land is the property of her family, and the families of her neighbours, and that they won't give it up without a fight.

"If they are back to negotiate, we want to negotiate, if they are back to throw us away then we'd rather die because we don't have anywhere else to go. We'll resist we don't have anywhere else to go. We want to live here."

But with little shelter and Angola's rainy season about to start, life for the people of Bairro Cambamba is going to get more difficult.






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