SOAS University of London

Centre of African Studies

Book Launch: 'Blue Dahlia, Black Gold: A Journey into Angola' by Daniel Metcalfe

Daniel Metcalfe (Author)

Date: 21 October 2013Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 21 October 2013Time: 7:00 AM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: 4429

Type of Event: Book Launch

Book Launch: Blue Dahlia, Black Gold. A journey into Angola 'by Daniel Metcalfe
(as part of the Africa seminar series)

21 Oct., 5pm, Room 4429, SOAS, Russell Square campus  

Since the end of its crippling 27-year civil war over a decade ago, Angola has changed almost beyond recognition. An oil-fuelled bonanza has brought about massive foreign investment and a fabulously wealthy new elite, making its capital, Luanda, the second most expensive city in the world. Today, fortunes are being made and lost overnight, and rich Angolans are eagerly buying up the assets of its former coloniser, Portugal.

Fascinated by this complex nation perched at the forefront of a resurgent Africa, writer Daniel Metcalfe travelled to Angola to explore the country for himself. Ebullient and proud, and often unwilling to dwell on its past, Angola has a large army, a hunger for wealth and a need to prove itself on the continent. But as Metcalfe also discovers, it has some of the most grinding poverty in Africa as few Angolans have reaped the rewards of the peace.

Nonetheless, amid Angola's brash reality, Metcalfe finds there is a place for a traveller who isn't there to make a quick buck. Crossing the country as ordinary Angolans do, talking to tribal elders, oil workers, mine clearers and street children, he encounters a place of extremes, where cynicism and excess go hand-in-hand with great hospitality and ingenuity. Metcalfe also reveals a colourful history of pirates and slave traders, capuchin monks, syncretic Christian cults and elaborate spirit masks.

This is an Angola that symbolises nothing less than a broader turning point between the continents, the repositioning of the rich developed world versus Africa. It is a land that, until now, few outsiders have managed to unlock. 

(Source: The Random House Group )

About the author 

Daniel was born in London and studied Classics at Oxford University, after which he went to live in Iran and Central Asia for a year and a half. These travels resulted in Out of Steppe: The Lost Peoples of Central Asia, which was shortlisted for the Banff Mountain Book Award 2009 and the Dolman Travel award 2010

Daniel has travelled extensively in Russia, Asia and the former Soviet Union. As Angola is getting a lot of attention at the moment for its enormous oil reserves, juxtaposed with its slow recovery from its 27 year civil war, Daniel has more recently focused on Portuguese-speaking Africa, inspiring Blue Dahlia, Black Gold: A Journey into Angola.

In this fascinating travel book, the author explores the complex realities of ordinary Angolans in an in-depth and unpretentious way. Daniel Metcalfe has written extensively for Economist, Guardian, and Financial times.

Organiser: The Centre of African Studies (SOAS)

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