On a recent PBS Newshour, Nicholas Kristof did what he does best. Bearing the conscience of a better world, he related findings of his always-thorough investigative research and evidence witnessed first-hand on a rare trip to Angola. Indeed, the Angolan government had denied him a visa for many years–no doubt with good reason. He minced no words of scathing criticism for what he saw laid bear in the miserable status of Angola’s children. Angola is one of Africa’s most resource-rich countries, among the world’s leaders in both oil and diamonds. Yet, in a story tiresome to many first world audiences, Kristof painted a picture of the unconscionable plight of children as a casualty of corruption in the midst of Angola’s wealth. They are an invisible constituency–nay, cannot even be claimed to belong to such a category. With its twinkling evening skyline, absurdly high rents in the capital city of Luanda, and excesses of political largesse, Angola simply ignores its children who suffer from inexorable cycles of poverty, malnutrition and illness.
The forces for change–those with the wherewithal and geopolitical influence to make it happen–are held at bay by overwhelming commercial interests in capital-rich resource extraction by major corporations and–yes to local “credit” years of war and corrupt governance. Net, despite GDP growth of 17% from 2003-2008 and a growth rate forecast at well over 6% annually for the next few years, Angola still ranked 148th out of 186 countries on the Human Development Index (HDI of 2012). Decades of corruption and nepotism –sadly characteristic on the continent– have so distorted economic management and hampered civil society reform, resulting in the prolonged drought of attention to those most disenfranchised at the bottom…the children. Kristof always delivers sobering, if haunting, witness to their plight.
Photo credits: Angolarising.BlogSpot.com and Moveoneinc.angola
A month before, the NYT published his article brilliantly titled: Two Women, Opposite Fortunes, exposing the uber-wealth of Angolan President–Sidney Poitier’s look-alike–José Eduardo Dos Santos’ daughter, writing: “One of the women is Isabel dos Santos, Africa’s richest woman… she is worth $3 billion and is Africa’s only female billionaire as well as its youngest billionaire, according to Forbes. The magazine found that all her major Angolan investments were in companies seeking to do business there or were achieved by a stroke of her father’s pen.”