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The country that plundered the African state for more than 300 years for its slaves and its natural resources now watches helplessly as Angolans buy up prime real estate in Lisbon and develop luxury housing where its politicians, its army generals and its businessmen smugly install themselves for long holidays.Angola goes to the polls at the end of the month and campaigning started last week.
Billions would need to be spent to make Luanda an attractive destination.Yet Angola boasts a fabulous £15.3 billion worth of international oil reserves – its ‘Ouro Negro’ or black gold.Oil exports from here make it Africa’s second-largest after Nigeria and foreigners are flocking here to work.Venturing up to the eighth-floor cocktail bar of the Hotel Baia overlooking the South Atlantic, it is disturbing to look out of a picture window and into the pitiful lives of shack-dwellers who have set up home on a dirty mudbank.Small children and mongrel dogs play with plastic rubbish in the filth, wading into a putrid-smelling lagoon that serves as their lavatory. Along with two-thirds of the country’s population, these people live on less than £1.28 a day.‘Down in the street market where we were filming a dance sequence I came across fake Vans sneakers for £58, on a stall next to a woman killing chickens with her bare hands.’A one-bedroom apartment in the city centre costs £7,500 a month to rent. Ana Cristiana Pinto, an attractive 23-year-old who was sent out of the country for her education, as were many Angolans during the long and bloody civil war, explains: ‘For many years we had nothing here. This helps explain how a pair of Puma trainers can cost £185 and why the room-service spaghetti bolognese in our hotel restaurant is £32.
A pizza is £16, tomatoes sell for £7.33 per pound and gym membership will set them back a staggering £5,000 a year. Around the corner, lies a tiny boutique with a new consignment of Pepe jeans.The top layer of people here are living high, earning well and paying huge prices for their homes and their lifestyle.Two-thirds of Luanda’s five million residents live in shanty-town squalor.Now people like me with good jobs feel it’s time to treat ourselves.’Venues such as the Tamariz Beach Club on the coast sell champagne for a minimum of £225 a bottle, while a Martini will cost £20, yet they are anything but glamorous – with their clientele of oil-engineer lounge lizards leering at the African girls and their Formica-topped tables serving overpriced pizzas to Chinese construction workers.But this is an oil-rich country that looks forward to a predicted 12 per cent growth in its economy this year.British music producer Mark Voysey, paying £290 a night for a room at the Epic Sana hotel last week, knew Luanda wasn’t cheap.