Rafael Marques, one of Africa’s most courageous and intelligent civic activists, gave a stunning interview recently in New York City about the the scale and scope of the theft of Angola’s government oil revenues. Marques is a lonely voice in the international community, battling against what seems like the impunity of Angola’s corrupt government officials. In his interview, Marques calls for more international pressure on Angola’s government — and not only over oil but also diamonds. A journalist for whom exposure is not enough, Marques wants to help change the behavior of Angola’s government as well mobilize the victims of Angola’s shameful misrule.
Marques is a curious invaluable figure on the landscape of African activism. He operates in the intersection of journalism and accountability, bearing witness to the wholesale thievery in which his benighted country functions with the explicit assistance of international oil companies and the very consumers of Angola’s oil — in China, in the U.S. and elsewhere — who do not take any responsibility for the crimes committed in the place where the oil originates. As Marques writes of his anti-corruption campaign, which he calls “Maka” from the word for comoplex problem in his indigenous Kimbundu language, “Maka is a response to the public’s silence, whether motivated by fear or by complicity, in the face of the looting and destruction brought about by the actions of the current leadership, and by the venal behaviour of the public administration in general.”
Neither silent nor fatalistic, Marques mines the pool of hope for a better Angola — and a better humanity.