National Geographic : 1961 Sep
Water sprites frolic in the shallows off Luanda Isla a palm-fringed pencil of land paralleling the port c In these seas women divers once sought the zimbi shell which for centuries served as currency in Ang it passes a shoreline village. Here men fish from dugouts as did their ancestors who stared in wonder at armor-clad Portuguese explorers wading ashore from their 16th-cen tury caravels. In open-air restaurants facing the sea, I sampled lobster, crab, and octopus fried in olive oil. But my favorite was a humble dish called caldeirada a Portuguesa-a pungent stew of fish, potatoes, tomatoes, onions, pep pers, olive oil, parsley, and spices. Through the kindness of Dr. Prattas, I met Dr. Pinto da Cruz, also of the Veterinary Service, who was leaving on a land-survey trip into central Angola. He invited me to go along. "You'll see our Duque de Braganca Falls," 372 he said, "and the giant sable antelope on the Luando Game Reserve." At daybreak we headed eastward in a Land-Rover via Catete and Cassoalala to Malange, old names in Angola's history. Once they were stations along a Via Dolorosa of the slave traffic. Angola has been called the Black Mother of Slavery; during nearly three centuries, millions of natives were driven to the coast in wretched caravans. At the ocean's edge, they were baptized by the boatload and shipped to the New World. We stopped at weathered old Massan gano, where we ate lunch while sitting on rusty cannon of the ruined fortress. In a 17th-century church, also used as a school, Angolan children chanted the alphabet (opposite). The place reminded me of Portuguese Goa, in India. We drove through thick jungles of palms and vines, and passed sisal, cot ton, and oil palm plantations. The road climbed through foothills covered with forests and wild coffee, to open plateau. "Much land is still free in Angola," Dr. da Cruz explained, "but we inspect set tlers' claims to make certain the land is suited for its intended use." Checking on the unsurveyed lands north of Malange, Dr. da Cruz inter viewed local chiefs, collected herbs and grasses, and took many blood samples from cattle herds. Camera Captures Elusive Sable . nd, :itv. "Generally speaking," he told me, "the o,a highlands will be reserved for farming, ola. the lowlands for grazing and forestry. This is staircase country; it rises in broad steps from the hot coast to cool plateaus." Staircases, indeed, I thought, when we reached the Duque de Braganca Falls and saw the Lu cala River crash deafeningly down a 344-foot cliff (page 358). A double rainbow arched in the spray; the lush foliage of the rain forest glistened like wet paint. In Malange we sought out Senhor Tobias de Sousa Chato, the supervisor of the Luando Re serve; he was to guide us into this vast game sanctuary, larger than the State of Delaware. A leather-faced, scarred veteran of tribal wars in southern Angola early in this century, Sen hor de Sousa Chato is now fighting his most im portant battle - to save the giant sable antelope (pages 374-5). Only an estimated 500 to 700 of these graceful animals, most magnificent of all the antelopes, still exist.