Translation by Ed Marks
From the preface
I was the third Portuguese ambassador to Angola and therefore still able to bear witness to some aspects of the early days of independence. I was destined to live a period of Angolan history that will not reoccur. It seemed to me, therefore, that as in Guinea-Bissau, I had an obligation to bear testimony to this unique period.
October 23, 1983
The day before yesterday, Friday the 21st, I went through my baptism of fire with the presentation of my credentials, my first contact with that complicated and impenetrable world which is the leadership of the MPLA.
Two Mercedes from Protocol came to take us to Futungo de Belas, 25 kilometers outside Luanda, where the President lives and where the Presidential Office is located. This secluded and somewhat mysterious world, the center of Angolan government power, is where, in a closed off world, Jose Eduardo dos Santos works.
Futungo de Belas is of recent origin. Almost at the dawn of the events that precipitated the independence of Angola, a group of rich Portuguesefrom Luanda decided to build a luxurious fishing club. For this project, they marked out a large area and, after constructing the club building, the members went on to build large, impressive houses, all in the doubtful taste common to the pretentious plutocracy of the final days of the colonial period.
The setting, seen as a whole from the road that passes on the way to the Barra do Quanza, has--to be honest--a certain grandeur. It spreads out in a gentle decline down to the quiet, glittering water of Mussolo Bay, sprinkled with small islands, with the horizon marked by the long, dark border of the island of the same name. The numerous buildings and ancient baobab trees are dispersed in a large area full of lawns, gardens, and bushes, all leading to a grove of palm trees at the edge of the sea. Seen as a whole, it is imposing and elegant.
They say that Agostinho Neto preferred to install himself in Futungo, spurning the beautiful Governor's Palace which since the end of the 16th century had been the seat of colonial power, in order to "physically" break with the past. In any case, he obviously felt it easier to maintain better security in the open spaces of Funtungo, then in the center of the capital.
In any case, given the growing threat from UNITA, Funtungo de Belas was transformed into a veritable fortress. And also an island of order, calmness, and cleanliness outside...