Cultural Symbols Of Angola
The main cultural symbols of Angola are: the Pensador sculpture, the Sable Antelope, and the Baobab tree.
The sculpture known as O Pensador is one of the most beautiful Tchokwe statues, and is a cultural reference point of all Angolans, because it is a national symbol. It represents the figure of an elderly person, who could be a woman or a man. Conceived symmetrically with a fase facing downwards, it expresses intentional subjectivism since the elderly are held in high esteem in Angola. They represent wisdom, many years of experience and knowledge of life’s secrets.
THE SABLE ANTELOPE
The Sable Antelope (Hippotragus niger, var.) is the most beautiful African antelope. Its great value lies not only in its beautiful form, but also in the fact that it is only found in Angola, and in small numbers, and because the species is classified as being on the verge of extinction. The hunting the Sable Antelope is strictly prohibited, as a protective measure. The species used to live in small groups of six to twelve, on the fringes of and inside open forests, close to water and grasslands. However, they were frequently seen alone or in pairs.
After 20 years of not being seen, the Sable Antelope was rediscovered in 2005, in the province of Kuando Kubango.
In the past, the horns of the Sable Antelope were used as a decorative ornament.
Welwitchia is a type of succulent plant, of which there is a single species, the famous welwitchia mirabilis, found only in the desert south of Angola and specifically in the province of Namibe. The species was named after Dr. Frederich Welwitsch, who contributed to knowledge about this and other plants in Angola. Owing to its unique characteristics, including its slow growth, the welwitchia is considered to be a threatened species and has become a symbol of the Angolan national culture owing to its resistance and longevity.
It is a low-lying plant, made up of a woody stem that does not grow, an enormous taproot and only two leaves that come from the cotyledon of the seed. With time, the leaves may reach two metres in length and become tattered at their ends. It is difficult to estimate the age that these plants reach, but it is believed that they can live for a thousand years.
THE BAOBAB TREE
A large tree is found in the Mayombe Forest, in Cabinda province. This enormous vegetal species can reach a height of thirty metres and has the capacity to store up to 120.000 litres of water in its giant trunk. For this reason, it is also known as the bottle tree. The Baobab is considered to be sacred, and has inspired poems, rites and legends.
According to an ancient African legend, for example, once a dead person has been buried inside a baobab tree, his/her soul will live for as long as the tree does. This tree has a very long lifespan of between one and six thousand years. Its scientific name is Adansónia digitada, but it is also known as the Baobab.
Cutting down a baobab tree in Angola is a sacrifice. The constitution and the carpentry profession indicate that it can only be used when there is no other suitable material available. Its wood is used to make musical instruments and its hard core yields a strong fibre used to manufacture ropes and lines.