In early 2011, as the turmoil from the Arab Spring protests made their way into pockets of Africa, Angolan youth began taking to the streets themselves. At the heart of their ongoing dissatisfaction remains the 32-year reign of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who protesters cite as the cause of mismanaged oil revenues, suppressed human rights, and widespread poverty, amongst other corruptions. 1
One early advocate for the protests include hip-hop musician Luaty DaSilva, aka Ikonoklasta, who openly voiced his support for the uprising during one of his February 2011 concerts, listing government officials as "exploiters of the oppressed" while the crowd responded to push them "out!"
In June 2012, DaSilva departed Angola for Lisbon, Portugal, to play with the Kuduro band Batida. DaSilva's supporters at the Angolan airport warned him that his luggage had been tampered with by the National Crime Investigation Department, and DaSilva decided that upon arrival in Lisbon, he would tell customs that he suspected foul play. But he never made it there, as the police were upon him as soon as he got his luggage. A kilogram of cocaine was discovered in DaSilva's luggage, but the presiding judge of the case set him free, because, in Luaty's words, "the framing was so gross that not even the judge bought it." 2
For the following month-and-a-half, DaSilva stayed in Portugal, and has only just returned to Angola. As he shares in the interview below, he suspects that the government "must have something ready for me, some sort of "warm welcome home" for when I return on the 25th of July." He is just one of a handful of musicians known to have faced persecution. 3
The 2012 parliamentary elections are to be held in Angola on August 31st -- hypothetically the first time the government will respect the constitutional deadline of having four years between elections. Yet despite this fact, which ostensibly seems to be an improvement, demonstrators both young and old have seen an intense increase in violence in the past year, much of which has been captured on video and disseminated widely via the internet. As recently as July 15th, several hundred protestors, knowing very well the potential dangers which faced them, risked likely violence from security forces and protested in the Sao Paolo market. Twelve were arrested, including two journalists working for Portuguese publications, sparking a call for the postponement of the August elections until free and fair polls can be guaranteed. 4
In the following Q&A with REDEFINE, DaSilva gives his perspective on the situation in Angola, offering a point of view from the young and frustrated underclass, in both Portuguese and English.