Filed under: *Travel Diary
just as i’m passing by and opening the lavatory door, a flight attendant tells her colleague “tell me if you need any help.” i tell her i definitely will. she laughed and said “not you!”. and so began the trip
the thing that hit me the most about the flight from frankfurt is that just about everyone on the plane was white. as i got on, scuffling through first class, i catch a bit of the conversation between two 30 something white guys wearing baseball caps. “new jersey. and you?” “lafayette, louisiana” “oh yeah?” “yup…born and raised” and i kept on moving towards the back of the plane…
the guy sitting next to me……was a youngish salt and pepper haired german from near the dutch border with a burnt off thumb on his right hand. he had a fantasy novel and a soft pretzel stuffed into a bag in the seatback in front of him. he promptly fell asleep the moment we took off, but on landing we chatted a bit. he works as a machines mechanic for a soft drink manufacturer called “blue” in a factory about an hours ride outside of luanda. he works 30 days on and 2 weeks off – when he flies home – then back to work for 30 days in angola. he’s been coming to angola since november and working for this company for 10 years in nigeria and south africa. when i asked him how he liked it, he stared at me for a moment then shrugged his shoulders and said, “it’s africa.you get used to it.” i was a bit stunned, to tell the truth. an incomprehensible reaction for me. africa is in my mind was mother africa. the source. something more than speckial. but it was clear that wasn’t the general consensus on this plane. these were guys who belonged to a long tradition of a very particular relationship to africa. one which only became clearer over the next few weeks.
a few seats away were three big loud obnoxious scandanavians. actually i have no idea where they were from – but it seemed like scandanavia for some reason (maybe it’s the norwegian flag on one of their sleeves). one guy had a baseball cap with the word “texas”written across it and the other one kept rubbing his belly, telling what seemed like jokes that only he laughed while downing whisky after whisky. balding with whisps of blond hair sprouting from their heads, pudgy fingers and pink faces, they shout across the isle at each other throughout the whole flight. looking at them, i have a flash – images of their fathers and grandfathers and great grandfathers making this same trip from north to south. generation after generation, shouting across the isle, shrugging their shoulders saying, “äh, it’s africa” and going home with money in their pockets. what a fucking history, these past 500 years. and this plane from frankfurt to luanda is what the legacy of it all looks like today, i guess…at least on this leg of the trip, from this side of the isle.
just some information tid-bits: lufthansa started direct service from frankfurt to luanda on april 1st, 2008. this is from their website:
“How Lufthansa serves Angola
- Starting April 1, 2008, Lufthansa will serve Luanda for the first time.
- Lufthansa will operate a weekly flight from Frankfurt with an Airbus A340-300, offering our exclusive First Class service, in addition to our award winning Business and Economy Classes.
- Passengers to and from Luanda can connect with Lufthansa flights serving the world’s energy capitals, including Houston.
- For schedule information please contact you travel agent or the Energy Support Desk.
Some facts about Angola
Angola’s economy has undergone a period of rapid transformation in recent years, moving from the disarray caused by a quarter century of war to being the fastest growing economy in Africa and one of the fastest in the world. Growth is almost entirely driven by rising oil production which surpassed 1.4 million barrels per day in late-2005. The economy grew 18% in 2005; growth is expected to reach 26% in 2006 and stay above 10% for the rest of the decade.
For more information on Angola, please click here.”
And for some more thoughts about the Germans interest in Angola, click here.
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