42 days: the view from Luanda

In front of a television in the Angolan capital, Luanda, linked via satellite to BBC World and SKY, I am sitting with a friend.

‘So, Lara, I don’t quite follow what they are saying about 42 days. Is this xenophobia?’

‘This is all about the so-called war on terror, which in part, I would agree, is about xenophobia. But the 42 days refers to the government’s desire to be able to detain a suspect for 42 days whilst the police build a case against that person.’

‘Oh… I see… But only for muslims, you mean?’

‘No. In principle, anyone could be detained for 42 days if the law is passed in the House of Lords, but even if they try to stop it, it might well be pushed through by parliament regardless.’

‘I see. So, you have a sort of dictatorship there… like here?’

‘It’s certainly becoming quite authoritarian.’

‘But Lara, authoritarian means dictatorship. Do you think British people understand that?’

‘Many don’t, I fear.’

We flick back to SKY. David Davies is shown with David Cameron in a London street I recognise.

‘Oh! Look! That’s my street in Hackney! That’s Powerscroft Road! That’s my flat! There! Look!’

‘So your politicians do the same as they do here: they visit the rundown neighbourhoods for propaganda? Like when our politicians go to the musseque. It’s the same! I’m beginning to understand your county too.’

P.S. He’s back, at last – the tease.


8 thoughts on “42 days: the view from Luanda

  1. in the midst of your wonderful observations you are also very funny….good thing, too–otherwise we would forget the glue of the universe and only pay attention to the stuff it adheres

  2. Thanks Mia. But just look at the automatically generated ‘possibly related posts’ that wordpress has come up with. See the second one ‘idiot niggers’, which refers to the collapse of the DNIC building here earlier this year. I’m furious and appalled that my work has been linked to a blog that is so clearly and purely racist. I’m not sure where this idea came from – to link blogs to each other – but I wish wordpress would stop it. What to do?

  3. I received this:

    Howdy! We apologize for the occurrence that you have experienced. To remove the content, simply go to Design -> Extras and enable the option to “hide related links on my blog…”

    Again, we greatly apologize.


  4. What worries me the most is the passivity that most of our fellow citizens have demonstrated towards this debate

  5. Fear is the best politics against your own people.

    It is not just in the UK, but whole Europe.

  6. Hello Vânia: when you say passivity and fellow citizens, do you mean in London? Or elsewhere? There is perhaps a wave of apathy sweeping over the world. I’m not sure why or how it is so specific to our times, or perhaps even if it is, but it would seem to be quite globalised. A wave of helplessness: there’s nothing we can do, these movements are bigger than us.
    Gess, that is a good question. But I’m not sure I can answer on behalf of the Angolan nation. What I have heard amounts to a bit of this and a bit of that:
    “Americans will never vote for a black man as president” or “He’s not even black: he’s mulatto. They’re even worse than the whites” or “It would be good wouldn’t it, if a black man led America? He would help us wouldn’t he?” Perhaps many people here are too preoccupied with their own day to day lives to think about Barak: yesterday, a man told me he didn’t even see the point of voting in his own elections here (September 5, 2008), despite the fact that this country has only once had the chance to vote, during the haphazard half-elections of 1992. Democracy, perhaps, is losing its force.

  7. I think Democracy is losing its force because people look at Iraqi model of Democracy (even the people of Butan are not happy to replace their Monarchy with Democracy), and it is not hard to understand why the US badly needs a makeover (new mask) or a good image after 8 year with Bush.
    Well, I do understand why the man thinks his vote will not bring a change, because a real change means to challenge the political and establishment system, which is an enormous task, even the Founding Fathers of America never dared and challenged the British.

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