Luanda, Angola: City's Main Open-Air Cinema, Cine Atlantico, Perfect Venue for Watching Football


Luanda's 11 November Stadium was lit up by a colourful show of fireworks and music, which accompanied displays of traditional and contemporary dancing performed by people in elaborate costumes.

The Angolan singer, Felipe Mukenga, sang the tournament's official anthem, Pais de Futuro (Country of the Future).

He danced next to the pitch, waving the national team's scarf above his head to rows of cheering fans, many wearing red, black and gold wigs and body paint.

Six heads of state from around the region attended the opening ceremony, including Jacob Zuma of South Africa and Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

During a short speech to the 50,000-strong crowd, Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos condemned the attack on the Togo team by separatist rebels in Cabinda on Friday, which left three people dead and led the players to pull out.

"Despite the terrorist attack, Cabinda will remain a hosting city," he said. "There is no need to be afraid."

A perfectly-observed minute's silence was held prior to kick off to remember the victims of the shooting, which has left a dark cloud over what was supposed to be Angola's re-launch, following the end of its long civil war in 2002.

While international media have been frenzied in their coverage of the violence, which has sent shockwaves through the footballing community, most Angolans have shrugged off the incident.

Empty streets

By 1700, the capital's normally packed main roads had emptied, except for those stuck in traffic trying to get to the stadium.

Beer-swilling fans gathered in side streets and stood around projectors which beamed the game onto walls painted white especially for the occasion.

Nearly every car had an Angolan scarf on display, and fans of all ages sported wigs, shirts, caps, flip-flops, bandanas, belts and beads in the national colours.

Some people said they had deliberately chosen to stay away from the stadium because of traffic congestion, while others said they had not been able to get hold of tickets, which had only gone on sale two weeks ago in selected bank branches.

Luanda's main open-air cinema, Cine Atlantico, was packed with lively groups, while downtown, security guards sat huddled around fuzzy television sets balanced on chairs or peered through shop windows to watch the action.

(While this is only the first portion of the article, the remainder can be found at the link В below)

Louise Redvers


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