Part II – The Benguela Railway, Angola
A documentary film:
The Chinese are rebuilding the Benguela Railway that cuts through the belly of Angola. I will follow its tracks from Kuito in the center of the country to the old slave port of Benguela on the Atlantic ocean telling the stories of the people whose lives are rapidly or not so rapidly changing. Once the commercial life-line of Angola stretching 1334 km from the Congo to the Atlantic ocean, the railway was largely destroyed during the 26 year civil war – bombed, peppered with land mines, ravished and laid to waste. Now, as part of an investment deal securing oil rights and construction contracts in return for rebuilding the national infrastructure, Chinese companies have come in and the whole world is being transformed.
Parts of the country that have been cut off for years are starting to reconnect. Trade routes are beginning to reemerge. For the first time in decades there is the possibility of development and renewed life. The route from inland Angola to the coast has been central to the major economic stories of the past 500 years – from the slave trade, to the colonial copper and mineral trade, to the battles of the cold war and now to the ascendancy of China in the age of limited oil supplies.
All along the tracks are people whose lives and fates have been intimately intertwined with these global forces — from the Chinese construction workers, to the Angolans recovering from the ruinations of war to the HALO de-mining organizations clearing the way. And cutting through all of it are the once opulent trains, abandoned and bullet ridden from the war, finding their way in a remarkable reversal of fortune back onto center stage of world events.
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