THE PROVINCE OF CABINDA
History - The enclave’s relationship with foreign powers in the 19th century informs much of the current dialogue with central authority in Luanda.
Cabinda gets its name from Mafu-Kabinda, a prosperous trader who represented the interests of the Kongo Kingdom many centuries ago in the area north of the month of the River Congo.
According to local legend, Cabinda gained some autonomy from the Kingdom during a turbulent period in the history of the royal family.
A powerful Bakongo queen, Muam Poenha, angered the king and was therefore expelled from the court at M’Banza Kongo. She fled with her triplets to the kingdom’s Ngoio principality, and married a local nobleman. When he had calmed down, the Kongo king divided up part of his territory between the triplets, and one of these areas, Ngoio, later became Cabinda.
In the 15TH century, the Portuguese explorer Diogo Cão arrived in Ngoio (Cabinda). The Portuguese king, João II, ordered him to mark Portugal’s presence by erecting a large stone monument on the territory. Diogo Cão exchanged gifts with the Kongo King, and the trust that grew between the two men allowed for the development of a strong trading relationship, the principal commodity being slaves.
Cabinda became one of the most important trading stations on the West African coast with slaves being brought from the interior, loaded onto Portuguese vessels and carried across the Atlantic to Europe, Brazil and São Tomé.
European documents surviving from the 16Th and 17Th centuries refer to a thriving port near the mouth of the River Congo, named variously as Cabinda, Cabenda, Kapinda or Kabinda.
Relations between the Portuguese and the Bakongo of Cabinda remained strong for many centuries. In 1758, King Mambuco Puna formalized this relationship by issuing a royal decree declaring that Portugal had exclusive trading rights in the area, banning all other foreigners from conducting commercial activities in Cabinda. The decree stated that the only foreign power recognized by the Kongo King was that of Portugal.
By this period, the British and French had also established trading stations in Cabinda, and British naval ships were anchored at the port. King Mambuco Puna issued an ultimatum to the British, demanding the withdrawal of the battleships because he said he did not recognize them. In turn, the British refused to accept that Portugal had exclusive trading rights in the area. However, Britain began to change its policy towards Portugal once the real scramble for Africa began. Other European powers started to stake claims in the area where the River Congo met the Atlantic ocean, alarming those who already established profitable bases in the region.
Ironically, it was an Englishman with a close relationship to King Leopold II of Belgium who caused great trouble for the Britsh and their territorial ambitions in Africa. He was Henry Morton Stanley, a flamboyant adventurer who made the treacherous journey up from the month of the River Congo to Stanley Pool deep inland, signing treaties with the native population on behalf of the Belgian King. France was also making similar inroads into the heart of Africa. Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza made a similar journey to that of Stanley, travelling inland along the Congo River and founding the town of Brazzaville in what is now Congo-Brazzaville. This not only alarmed Portugal and Britain but also Stanley and the Belgians because de Brazza had planted the French flag just across the river from where the Belgians had staked a claim to Leopoldville, which was to become their future colonial capital.
Britain decided the only way to deal with the French and the Belgians was to strike a deal with Portugal. In 1884, the two countries signed the Treaty of Zaire in London, which recognized Portuguese sovereignty over Cabinda but granted Britain certain privileges in the territory. This angered other European powers anxious for a piece of the African pie, prompting Prince Otto von Bismarck of Germany to hold a conference in Berlin to carve up Africa. Portugal lost out during the Berlin Conference of 1884. The enclave of Cabinda was all that was left of their territorial claims north of the River Congo.
The people of Cabinda were greatly alarmed by the Conference of Berlin, realizing that their future was being decided without any local consultation. In 1885, Cabindan dignitaries assembled in Simulambucco, and prepared a petition requesting Portuguese protection, but insisting upon their territorial integrity and demanding that the authority of regional chiefs be maintained.
In 1887, João de Brissac das Neves Ferreira was installed as the first Portuguese governor in Cabinda. The territory was governed as a separate colony until 1956 when it was incorporated into Angola. From that time on, it came under the direct authority of the Portuguese Governor General of Angola.
Cabinda’s Block Zero is one of the World’s most lucrative oil fields, although new offshore discoveries elsewhere are diminishing its net contribution to Angola’s oil production. Cabinda is the goose that laid the golden egg for Angola. The tiny enclave, which is entirely separate from the rest of Angola in geographical terms, seems at times to exist solely for the purpose of producing oil. Angola’s Oil Minister Jose Botelho Vasconcelos stresses how essential Cabinda is for the country’s overall economy, pointing out that the province contributes the majority of the oil revenues that currently make up 42 percent of the gross national product, and 90 percent of the state budget.
In production terms, Cabinda generates about 60 percent of the country’s oil. However, major new deep-sea discoveries off the provinces of Zaire and Luanda mean that, in terms of oil, Cabinda is no longer the only jewel in Angola’s crown. Indeed, with so much attention currently focused on the giant Dahlia and Girasol oil fields in block 17 Cabinda has somewhat faded from the limelight. Still, some of Angola’s most productive oil fields today lie in Block Zero and Block 14 during the late 1990s, the most sensational being the vast Kuito oil field, as well as other large deposits named Benguela, Belize and Landana. Kuito started producing oil in the last quarter of 1999, and by the following year, 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) were being pumped from the field. Block 14 is operated by Chevron Texaco, with a 31 percent interest, through its local subsidiary Cabinda Gulf Oil Company or Cabgoc. The rest of the consortium comprises state oil company Sonangol with 20 percent; Italy’s Agip and TotalFinaElf also have 20 percent; and Petrogal brings up the rear with 9 percent.
However, Cabinda’s other main offshore deposit, Block Zero, is the bedrock of Angola’s petroleum industry. It has been operational for over two decades, and has served as the main supplier of oil to the country. Block Zero’s numerous oil fields are of excellent quality, and it is for this that they are most famous. The enormous block has been divided into three areas, each one subdivided into many different oil fields named after small towns in Cabinda. Original concession rights to Block Zero were granted in 1957, and exploration began soon afterwards. In 1962, large quantities of oil were found in shallow waters, just 10-25 yards from what was then the village of Malembo on the Cabindan coast. Production started in 1968, and since then Block Zero established a single day production record of 510,451 barrels.
The government now reinvests 10 percent of Cabinda’s oil revenues back into the province, and living standards are improving.
Again, Chevron Texaco is the lead operator with a 39,2 percent share; Sonangol has 41 percent; TotalFinaElf has 10 percent; and Agip 9,8 percent. This partnership ratio has existed since the early 1990s. Sonangol previously had a51 percent stake in Block Zero, but sold 10 percent of its share to Elf Acquitaine before the national elections of 1992. Sonangol did not consult Cabgoc about this sale, which resulted in some tension between the two companies.
Inevitably, Chevron Texaco has been deeply influential in the development of the province although the company’s operational base at Malongo terminal is a world apart from the rest of the province. Guarded by private security companies, Malongo is completely sealed off from Cabinda proper. Apart from the oil storage depots and a small topping-type refinery, the complex serves as a residential area for Chevron’s expatriate employees, and most consumable items, including water, are flown in from overseas.
Most of Cabgoc’s expatriate workers, the majority of whom are Americans, have a limited exposure to the real Cabinda. They work according to a five-week-in, five-week-out schedule, leaving Malongo in buses, flying out of the local airport to Luanda, then on the U.S. Last year, the Angolan national airline, TAAG, started a weekly direct fly from Luanda to Houston, an indication of just how close the two petroleum universes have become. Cabinda’s former Governor Amaro Tati is keen to encourage expatriates to stay in Cabinda. “If we had better hotels and other facilities to offer them, I’m sure they wouldn’t spend 35 days working in Malongo and 35 days back home in the U.S,” he says, adding that they have renovated at least one hotel recently. Most local staff does not live within the Malongo settlement, however, and there is some resentment about the differences in living standards. There is also resentment from Cabindans who do not have jobs with Cabgoc. Complaints about oil spills have come from abindan fisherman, who has demanded compensation from Cabgoc. In general, though, the relationship between Cabgoc and the Cabindan population is nowhere near as tense as in Nigeria, where oil facilities are frequently destroyed by local communities who feel they have been robbed of the natural wealth of their land.
In order to minimize tensions with the local community in Cabinda, chevron has recently contributed to local social development projects. As Amaro Tati explains, “ Together with Chevron we have started to build schools in Luani and Bulo, and low income housing in Miconje.” Cabinda’s education system is, by Angolan standards, fairly advanced, as it already has some degree of tertiary education. This is a result of being the richest province in Angola, as locals enjoy the concrete benefits of the ten percent of oil revenues remitted to the province.
CABINDA NATURAL RESOURCES -
Post-slaves and pre-oil, Cabinda’s economy was based on coffee, cocoa and timber. Coffee and cocoa are still produced in small quantities, as are other agricultural products. If military insecurity could be reduced, and if more investment was forthcoming, Cabinda could feed not only itself but also supply fresh produce to the Cabogc oil complex at Malongo. However, Cabindan farmers lack the financial support to rehabilitate their farms and plantations. According to recent figures issued by the Cabinda branch of Angola’s National Coffee Institute, 15 tons of coffee were produced in 2001, way below the estimated production figure of 500 tons. Mismanagement and war damage were cited as reasons for the pure harvest.
Cabinda’s most impressive
natural resource is the Maiombe rainforest, described by locals as “the
vegetable sea” due to its impenetrable canopy of luxuriant green
vegetation. The forest covers an enormous area, twice the size of some
small African countries. Maiombe is often described as “the Amazon of
Africa”, hosting a remarkable variety of plant and animal species.
Maiombe is especially famous for its butterflies. There are hundreds of
species in the forest, many unique to the area. Prized by collectors,
specimens of these butterflies can be found in natural history museums
throughout the world. What is most beautiful about Maiombe is that the
forest grows right down to the sea, with enormous trees bending into the
water, waves lapping the greenery as gorillas and chimpanzees whoop from
the high branches. Local children swing out from the forest on huge
lianas, leaping off into the blue sea.
Forest of Maiombe
Pântano de Lândana (Lândana
SOCIETY - Languages Matters
Due to the population movements, Cabindan society developed into an interesting mix of the modern and the traditional.
To this day, Cabindans still practise Bantu rituals such as initiation ceremonies. The most famous of these is the casa de tinta where young girls are locked in a house for several days, where they are taught the secrets of marital life by older women.
The bodies of the girls are painted whilst they are inside the house. When they emerge from their seclusion, a big festival is held and the initiation is concluded. Shortly after this time, the girls are expected to get married. Christianity has been a central part of Cabindan culture for many centuries, but the people maintain strong animist beliefs. They believe in the spirit world, worshipping deities from the Maiombe forest. Local music, generally played with marimbas and drums, imitates the sounds of forest. Modern music has been influenced by the rhythms of the Congo, especially soukous.
Angolan semba music plays second place. In Cabinda, one is much more likely to hear the sounds of Sam Mangwana, Franco, Tabuley Rochereau and Mbilia Bel than Bonga or other Angolan musicians. If Cabinda cannot get political independence, they will at least listen to music of their own choosing.
Capital: Cabinda; Area: 7.270 sq. km;
Population: 100.000 inhab.;City
Councils; 4: Cabinda, Cacongo, Buco-Zau, Beliza; Climate: equatorial;
Main Products: Agricultural: Coffee, cocoa, palms, mandioc, corn;
minerals: petroleum, phosphates, uranium, gold, potassium; others: