Monday, October 16, 2006

Radical Thoughts on "Jovemania"

Sunday night I was sitting at home watching TPA-2; my choices were “Luanda da sorte” (literally, “Luanda Gives Good Luck”) the televised lottery and gift give-away program, or “Jovemania” (“Youthmania,” a variety hour for teens). I chose Jovemania because I need to stay hip while in Angola. Jovemania usually follows the same format of an Angolan music star lip-syncing to his or her latest hit and info sessions on topics that might be important to youth; past topics have included “The Internet,” “Sign Language,” and “Art in Angola.” Youth from high schools in Luanda fill two small bleachers and serve as the audience.

Sunday’s episode was interesting because the topic of corruption came up two separate times. Corruption is rampant in Angola. (Here is what Human Rights Watch has to say about corruption in Angola and here is what the Economist says.) Of the places where I have lived, Angola is by far the worst; it is expected and unchallenged. The first lip-syncing artist was Teta Lágrimas. He “sang” two songs, the last of which was called “Eu quero ser politico” (“I Want to Be a Politician”). Basically the song was about how his girl left him and he wishes that he was a politician because that way he could get whatever money, car, or power he needed to keep her. The song was pretty bold on its own; corruption is something people are frustrated with but have accepted and just deal with, so to hear an underhanded swipe at the government was a change. It was especially bold given that he was “singing” this song on a state-run television station.

The second thing to catch my attention came up during the info session. Today’s topic was “Youth Employment” and they had two men speaking, one from the government’s youth department and the other from a computer company that has a youth employment program. Both men were just generally talking about how high school student can go and find jobs. (These youth programs are only in Luanda; the other kids in the country are on their own!) After the government guy praised his program, the computer guy started talking about his company’s program. I didn’t catch how it came up, but he started talking about transparency and that none of the job applicants would have to worry about having to pay the gasosa. (Gasosa literally means soft-drink, but is more popularly known as a bribe. It took me a while to catch onto this usage; I didn’t understand why policemen would want soft-drinks when they could get money out of people!) The guy asked the audience, “How many of you know of anyone who got a job without a gasosa?” The teens, who are usually pretty quiet and bored stiff during these info sessions, suddenly perked up and shouted “No one!” and began chatting animatedly amongst each other. The computer guy said, “That’s illegal! You shouldn’t have to pay that! We need to start reporting these things so things can change in Angola!” The teens burst into applause. The government guy looked bored.

I’m not expecting any youth protests or changes in the corruption system, but it was nice to see, on public state-run TV, some complaints about the way things work here.

Finally, those familiar with my inexplicable aversion to all fish and seafood will be surprised to learn that I ate fish on Saturday night- and not just a bite or two! My coworker friend Mark is out agriculture program manager by day and a fisherman by night (really- he goes out any time of day, sometimes until 9 pm). When he heard about my dislike, he said, “If I catch you a fish, will you eat it?” I agreed and was safe for several weeks- the fish in the bay next to his house weren’t biting. Saturday, however, he invited several of us over for a fresh fish dinner. He made some chicken on the side, just in case, but I didn’t touch the chicken. The fish was coa- no one knew the English name- and it was quite tasty. I’m still not totally convinced that I like fish now, but I learned I can at least get through it without keeling over, which as a child is something I truly believed would happen.

[This is the view from Mark's front porch of Mark (yellow shirt)and Juan going out in the kayaks for some late afternoon fishing. Yes, this place could be worse!]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Is this the first time you have ever eaten seafood? Amazing! But get over it, you need the protein!

Yo' Dad, Poker King