That Friday, even with the week and the sun moving towards the end of its cycles, the core of Huíla province preserves its usual vitality.
A ray of light coming from the top of Serra da Leba still gilds the top of the Cathedral of São José.
In the adjoining garden, as in front of the Gothic temple, couples, families and guests indulge in matchmaking photo sessions and an elegant get-together.
Young street shoeshine men wander among the wedding people, attentive to any opportunity.
They dispute the same kwanzas with credit sellers for mobile phones, vegetables, fruit and even eggs.
We wander around the central grid of Lubango, paying special attention to the assorted architecture, here and there, artistic.
A little above the church, a detached building on Rua 14 de Abril seems to have come out of any neighborhood on the outskirts of Lisbon, built in the 50s or 60s.
Many others around, in concrete and worn pastel tones, contrast with the blue sky and recompose this look, at first sight familiar.
Until a few imperial palm trees that appear out of nowhere, almost as tall as the buildings, reaffirm tropicalism and post-colonial Africanity.
We get lost. Streets up and down, in a permanent play of light and shadow.
We pass by different buildings, one-story or, at most, two-stories, which combine Art Deco essays with matching paintings: salmon and red, purple, sky blue, bright colors alike.
Samples of white clouds fly over us, hurried by the southerly wind.
When these buildings re-imprise the city's Portuguese genesis and era, new palm trees are projected and murals display new African art.
A rusty gate opens. A woman peeks out, looking for someone or news.
The Ethnic and Cultural Diversity of Lubango
She is an elderly mumuíla, a lady with light curly hair and countless beads, the kind adored by the ethnic group.
Moments later, already in the garden square that adorns the MPLA Provincial Committee, two Himba girls approach us.
Even grown, secular capital, soon, with a million inhabitants, without warning, the city captures us with the tribal exuberance of Huíla and other parts of Angola.
We crossed to the other side of Gabriel Caloff Square. Lubango enters into pomp mode and reverence to the father of the nation, Agostinho Neto.
It imposes on us the ideological and heritage heritage of the defunct Soviet Union, incompatible with historical and cultural values that, even so, endure, as is the case with religion.
Christian Lubango: from Senhora do Monte to the local Cristo-Rei
We see how the Catholic faith has spread and endures, even in the steepest surroundings. Lubango has its patron saint in Senhora do Monte.
In the short pilgrimage that we dedicated to him, a group of faithful already back home, praised us for the effort of the journey, without sparing themselves a well-deserved comment: “but look, they should have come earlier.
The mass is over and the priest is also leaving. They'll only find the security guard and the monkeys around. See if the security guard opens the door for you”.
A Portuguese family still there brought back memories of other times.
Unexpectedly, conversation ensued, we all entertained ourselves trying to photograph elusive green monkeys, too deep in the trees.
From there, we point to the cliffs of Serra da Leba to which the city's houses are fitted, blessed by the local version of Cristo Rei, at an altitude of about 2100 meters, twice as high.
Like the city, it was built by an engineer from Madeira, Frazão Sardinha, in 1957.
With the purpose of bringing it closer to the historical grandeur of Almada-Lisbon and Rio de Janeiro.
The municipal authorities would not stop there.
Visiting the top of the cliff and Cristo Rei, we hop from stone to stone, at the base of the hyperbolic sign that proposes Lubango as a Hollywood city.
A Century of City, Even More Time of Population
In the days that we unveil it, Lubango celebrates a century since it was elevated to city status.
The foundation of the village dates back to 1885. Twenty-nine years had passed since Carlos Duparquet, a priest with a passion for botany, and his entourage were expelled from the Terras de Calubango by the natives.
And a mere four years after the local chief finally allowed the establishment of a Catholic mission with an agro-pastoral profile.
Now, it was this mission and the exceptional fertility of the soils in the area that opened the doors to the arrival of more settlers.
The frenzy that became known as “sharing of africa".
The new rules of territorial legitimacy stipulated by the Berlin Conference, coerced the government of the Metropolis to colonize more of the colonies.
The Urgent Colonization of the Interior of Angola: from Sá da Bandeira to Lubango
O interior of angola has become a priority. By that time, the British Empire, the south african boers and the Germans already masters of german west africa (current Namíbia), they all wanted to take as much of Angola from the Portuguese as possible.
In the particular case of the British, in order to make the dream of the Pink Map unfeasible.
Accordingly, Lisbon arranged and paid for the trip of more than two hundred people from Funchal and Porto Santo, aboard the ship “Índia”.
First to Moçâmedes, then to the interior of Huíla, where they founded the village of Sá da Bandeira, named after the influential homonymous marquis who created the municipality of Huíla and who, in 1836, prohibited the slave trade in the Portuguese Empire.
Gradually, Brazilian settlers and Boers from Humpata, land that preserves that name, joined the population. An agricultural and livestock domain that we crossed countless times, on the way to the famous asphalt meanders of Serra da Leba.
The Geological Majesty of the Tundavala Rift
And in search of one of the two monumental geological crevices on the outskirts of Lubango, Alto Bimbe – the one with complicated access – one of the reasons why it was the Tundavala crevice that became the star crevice of the company, worthy of the reverence that, on two consecutive sunsets, we dedicate to you.
On both occasions, we were impressed with the speed with which the Tundavala road rescues us from the traffic in Lubango and elevates us to a bucolic mountain world.
Reaching the flat top of Leba, herds of cows roaming between large blocks of granite and quartzite bar our way.
Shortly after resuming the path, a fruit seller installed in a parking area confirms that the viewpoints are there.
We give priority to the most distant, on the edge of the vast Central Plateau of Angola, overlooking another immense Angola that begins, down there, at a height of one thousand meters.
The accounts were easy.
Both the abyss ahead and the Tundavala that cut it right next to it, had a vertiginous 1200 meters.
Two young mumuílas who lived in a nearby village and approached us knew by heart the dazzle they generated in outsiders.
The views and themselves, barefoot, with cloths wrapped around their waists and naked torso, contrary to the traditional mumuíla look, almost devoid of beads.
Since detecting our cameras, the duo has been doing photography.
We assumed the interest was mutual. Soon, we inaugurated a production, full of poses and vanities, against the blue sky of the plateau.
And with Tundavala in the background.
This must have been the only familiar precipice of the people of Huíla, an unavoidable reason for pride in their land.
Due to political contingencies, on a world scale, the History reserved a different destiny for them.
Those who, like us, discover them eleven years after the end of the conflict, still recovering from the trauma, but visually recovered, find it hard to believe that Huíla and its elegant, multiethnic and seductive capital were also plunged into the abyss of war that obliterated Angola between 1961 and 2002.