In 2004, hundreds of families in Angola’s capital, Luanda, were evicted from their homes to make way for the city’s elite. After seven years of campaigning, we have helped more than 250 families to move into new houses.
Last month, families from Cambamba I, an informal neighbourhood in Luanda, finally started moving into government-built homes on the outskirts of the city.
A further 171 families from two other communities – Cambamba II and Banga We – will be rehoused in a second wave.
Rafael Morais, a coordinator from our partner, SOS Habitat said: ‘It is with great satisfaction that we received this news, after seven years and a lot of struggle. It is a victory for all of us.’
Grandmother left homeless
Rita Paulo Oliveira’s home in Cambamba II, where she had lived for 47 years, was knocked down five times between 2004 and 2006.
A grandmother, Rita came to Luanda in the sixties, fleeing the violence of Angola’s fight for independence from the Portuguese.
‘They came with dogs and guns and they flattened everything.’
‘We lost the bed, the pans, our stove – the people who pushed down the houses took them,’ she recalled. ‘They came with dogs and guns and they flattened everything.’
Targeted for demolition
These communities were targeted for demolition so that the Angolan government could build ‘Nova Vida’ (New Life), a new development of homes and shopping malls for the city’s elite.
Bulldozers moved in without warning to knock down the homes, breaking international human rights laws. Residents were given no compensation or alternative place to live.
With nowhere else to go many people stayed, resisting the evictions peacefully and rebuilding homes from the rubble, only to have the bulldozers return again and again.
The struggle continues
While the new homes are a victory for these communities, there is still much to fight for.
The decision to move families to the outskirts of the city has been criticised as it is far from people’s jobs, children’s schools and other amenities.
Morais said: ‘The struggle for the pursuit of human dignity continues. We have set up a community development plan that involves mobilising families to replant the area and set up cooperatives to combat food shortages.’
SOS Habitat is a civil society organisation that was founded by victims of housing demolitions in Luanda.
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