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Moments of Peace 2017-03-23T23:15:46+00:00

Halfway through the concert, we began performing these songs and inviting the crowd to sing along with us. At first, they were a little apprehensive, which we attributed to the fact that the provincial governor, His Excellency Augusto da Silva Tomás, was in attendance. As small numbers of people began singing along, more joined the chorus. Soon we had the entire crowd singing the chorus lines in full voices:

Angola, Angola, oh ki povo sabi
(Angola, Angola, what a beautiful people)

Oh, oh, oh, Angola, mukulu kituwé xilé
(Oh, oh, oh, how beautiful Angola used to be)

Angola na paz é midjor
(Peace in Angola)

It was an amazing feeling to hear thousands of people singing our songs, people from a distant land and of a different culture singing together in one voice.

Immediately after the concert, the governor approached us and personally invited Ramiro and me to a meeting at his palace the next morning. We arrived on time and were brought to the reception room, where we waited with anticipation to learn about the reason for the meeting. After a few minutes of anxiety, Governor Tomás entered the room and we exchanged warm greetings and sat back down on the plush leather couches that adorned the beautiful room. Dispensing with the pleasantries, he got right to the point:

“For you, last night’s concert was a normal event; for me, the entire concert was a high political achievement. You managed to get Cabindans to do something they’d never done before: sing about Angola.”

He went on to explain that some people of Cabinda did not consider themselves Angolans. Thus, getting them to sing songs promoting Angola was unprecedented. Indeed, we were aware of the long political and military struggle waged by many of the native Cabindans to separate the province from Angola, a fact that explains why we were asked to present our passports upon arrival at the airport, a few days earlier. In the end, we were happy that our presence in Cabinda did provide a moment of unity between the people.

A Moment of Peace in Cubal do Lumbo, Angola

From August 1997 to February 1998, we (Mendes Brothers) organized a second national tour of Angola, performing twenty-five shows in the most remote cities and villages of Angola, including Bocoio, Balombo, Cubal do Lumbo in the interior of the province of Benguela; Ondjiva, Santa Clara, Xangongo, and Cahama in the province of Cunene; and the cities of Bié, Huambo, Tômbwa, Namibe, Lubango, Malanje, and Luanda. During this tour, we had the unique privilege of performing in villages where the population hadn’t seen a live concert in over thirty years. There are so many special moments that come to mind when we think of our tours of Angola, but one in particular stands out among the rest.

Our 1997 tour began in the province of Benguela with an invitation from the governor, Dumilde Rangel. After a few concerts in the city, governor Rangel requested us to provide entertainment at the official ceremonies, commemorating the transfer of power from UNITA to the government in the municipalities of Bocoio, Balombo, and Cubal do Lumbo. During the last ceremony, held at Cubal do Lumbo, we experienced one of the most powerful moments of peace of the tour.

The official ceremony was held at a historical building nestled between the mountains and away from the main roads. A small Alouette helicopter picked up some of our musicians along the road from Balombo and transported them to Cubal do Lumbo, while the rest of us rode in by bus. As we approached Cubal do Lumbo, we could see armed military personnel camped along the hills overlooking the valley. Suddenly, the winding road gave way to an open space marked by a ruined building standing in the background. We had arrived at Cubal do Lumbo. The entire place looked like a Rambo movie scene, decked with military weapons and soldiers all about the camp and the adjacent hills. To our right stood the UNITA flag. To our left was the official Angolan flag. In the middle stood the flag of the United Nations. All around the encampment were military transport vehicles and hundreds of heavily armed military personnel in their fatigues, guarding the ceremony.

As we began the first song, “Angola Na Paz,” the crowd stood frozen in front of us as if they were indifferent to the performance. About the third song (“Angola Kuia”) into the show, the crowd began to dance among themselves, staying close to their affiliated flags. As the performance went on, the divided audience became an unbearable reality, sapping our energy and preventing us from creating a feeling of unity and celebration. I (João) decided that something needed to be done in order to bring them together, but I didn’t know exactly what that would entail.

A few songs later, an old man who appeared to be somewhat drunk and dressed in a ragged uniform began to approach the band, dancing by himself in front of the stage. Catching his eye, I intuitively stepped down from the stage and began walking toward him. I didn’t know what I was about to do, but something told me to trust my intuition. As I approached him, I noticed that both of us were wearing green hats. He had a green straw hat, and I had a large green cloth hat.

I took my hat and placed it on his head and took his hat and wore it. He was so moved by this spontaneous gesture of goodwill that he collapsed in my arms and embraced me. I embraced him in return. We stood there, in front of everyone gathered, drenched in sweat, arm in arm as if we were old buddies who suddenly reconnected after a long successful battle. As we let go of each other and I returned to the stage, the crowd began to move across the aisle. By the next song, no one could tell who was a UNITA or a government supporter. They mixed, mingled, danced, and celebrated with each other until the end of the concert.

As 5:00 p.m. approached, we were requested to end the concert and pack all the equipment, because we had to leave Cubal do Lumbo before sundown. “Quero os Mendes Brothers dentro do autocarro antes das 18:00 horas” (I want the Mendes Brothers inside the bus before 18:00 hours),” said Governor Rangel.

All personnel had to leave the site before nightfall, fearing that there could be an ambush by the UNITA military or civilian supporters. Everyone gathered their belongings and rushed out in tight caravan formation, escorted by armed military SUVs.

During our return to Benguela, Ramiro and I were requested to travel in the military SUVs that transported the soldiers. One of the generals who had fought against the UNITA in the Cubal do Lumbo region informed us that they had spent days rebuilding and clearing the same access roads of freshly placed mines, in preparation for the day’s event.

The general then asked me,

“The man you gave your hat to, do you know who he is?” “No,” I said. He looked straight into my eyes and said, “He is the soba [king] of Cubal do Lumbo.” I was surprised. Then he added, “That’s why the entire crowd began to dance with each other after you exchanged hats.”

The entire trip to Bocoio, Balombo, and Cubal do Lumbo had a major impact on us. It made us realize how music was able to dissolve all political, military, and national divisions, bringing people together at deeper levels than mere written accords. The energy we experienced in Cubal do Lumbo alone proved that music, when infused with love, trust, and unbiased goodwill, can unite total strangers at the deepest levels of our humanity to form a common bond of unity beyond language, ethnicity, and political affiliations. This level of soul agreement is a vibration that harmonizes human emotions toward peaceful coexistence.

When a country is embroiled in conflict, the vibrations of its thought, emotion, and consciousness also become inharmonic and chaotic. In order to achieve peace, these energies have to be reharmonized to the coherent vibration of love. Thus, in order for Angola to achieve lasting peace, it needed to transform the very sound of its consciousness from one of conflict to one of love, goodwill, and harmony.

In the end, it took deep changes in the soul vibration of every Angolan to move this nation into the frequency of peace. It was not the physical transition of Angola’s enemies that brought peace to the country; it was the absence of their vibrations on the collective consciousness of the nation that allowed Angolans of all political and ethnic backgrounds to rise above the emotional frequency of conflict and mistrust, and embrace the vibrations of love and national brotherhood. Peace is never accomplished through fear or on the battlefield with the annihilation of the enemy. Peace can only be achieved through love!

As an elemental frequency of reality, sound, especially when it is organized in the form of music, plays a critical role in the entrainment of human consciousness toward different qualities of reality. Thus, the most effective way to materialize peace in our world is to encode the vibrations of love, kindness, goodwill, unity, harmony, and other positive emotions into our music. Peace will automatically manifest in our lives as a result of holding these boundless love energies within our hearts. Every fiber of our being can be entrained to vibrate the energy of love. After all, we are love-manifested beings!

Photos of Cubal do Lumbo, Copyright Keiichi Hashimoto