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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 January, 2004, 16:50 GMT
Author Jamba's emotional homecoming
Jamba was in exile for 27 years
Angolan writer Sousa Jamba has been speaking about his return to his home country after 27 years in exile.

Jamba, author of a number books examining the disapora experience - such as of A Lonely Devil, On The Banks Of The Zambezi and Patriots - went back to Angola after lasting peace settled following decades of civil war that began in the 1960s.

He said that like a great number of his compatriots, he had been surprised by the country that he found.

"I was expecting to find a lot of misery and hopelessness - which I didn't," Jamba told BBC World Service's Outlook programme.

"[Capital city] Luanda is a very wealthy city - but because of oil you have a very rich elite and a very poor mass of people at the bottom."


Angola's civil war lasted almost continuously until 2002, when Jonas Savimbi, leader of the then rebel movement Unita, was killed in battle.

Jamba's family were all Unita supporters, which was one of the reasons why, when Jamba was nine years old, they left the country and went to Zambia - before coming to England.

Luanda is growing on its oil wealth - but not all are benefiting
"There was a sense that if you were from Unita you either had to leave the country or go out into the bush, which is precisely what my family did," he said.

Their support was due to a complex set of circumstances to do with religion and ethnicity - the family were Protestant in a mainly Catholic area.

Jamba spent much time in his home city of Wambo, where he said he was surprised how much he remembered.

However, he added that the war had changed many things he recalled - in particular his old school, Fatima Primary, where he answered questions from current students.

"The school has fallen apart," he said.

"They have to bring their own chairs, the windows are completely broken, the floor is in disrepair. It's not a very pretty sight."

Jamba recalled that before he left, the school had been well-furnished, with milk, bread, jam and sweets all served at break time.

But now, he said, the children were struggling because they had no pens and were forced to share "useless" stubs of pencil.

"I sat next to some of the pupils and they were begging, 'can I use your pencil?'... I find it very sad that one of the wealthiest countries in Africa can have kids who don't have pencils.

"I don't think they get a decent education. The morale of the teachers is very clearly low."

Teacher Veronica Rodriguez do Sanchez said that many things were destroyed in the war - but that the Catholic Church is now trying to improve conditions in the school.

War is over

However, Jamba said that that like most of the disapora who were now flooding back, he had received a great welcome on his return.

"Everybody says 'the good sons always return home'," he said.

"By and large, we are welcomed."

Confident that the war is over, Jamba added that he now sees his future as being between Europe and Africa.

"There is so much that Angola needs that I can give," he said.

"Obviously I have roots in the West, I have family in America, kids - and I think I can spend my time in both places."

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Country profile: Angola
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Timeline: Angola
28 Jun 03  |  Country profiles

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