Eduarda’s Story

A young black girl standing and posing for the camera.

It had been a while since I had been in contact with Eduarda, and the last time we met was when I was in Angola, 4 months ago. So, when I called her to confirm some details of this story, she answered with a lot of enthusiasm. When I tell her that, soon, I’ll be back in Angola, she warns me: “Prepare yourself, because I have so many things to tell you! I’ve got so many news!” With very few words and all of her joy, she eliminates all of my doubts about my future visit to Benguela.

I remember quite well the moment when our working relationship changed into something a bit more similar to a friendship: she was spending a few nights in Benguela (she normally lives in Cubal), in the house of our organization, and I had managed to take her out for dance classes. On our return, we had dinner together and started talking about what two girls almost always end up talking about: love. I told her about my love story with Thokozani, and, little by little, she began to share with me her views on love.

We won’t get into details here, but she had previously dreamed of getting married when she’d get to 23 years old. Now (at the time of our conversation she was exactly 23 years old, today she is 25), she realized that 23 would be very early. The most important thing for her now is to find a person who, even in his imperfections (no one is perfect), is simple, faithful and fun (since she likes to play and laugh). For the future, she would like 2 children – possibly 2 girls.

Many Angolan girls of her age already have children, and I asked her if she thinks there is anything that helped her to avoid an early pregnancy. She then explained that she was always very determined about this: she wanted to study in University first and find a job to organize her life well before starting a family of her own. Many of her friends have had children already, but she has been helped by the work of the organizations in which she has always participated (first by attending ADRA lectures in Cubal, then by working in CIES and COSPE).

Eduarda started studying Biology at the University, as biology has always been her passion, but now she understands that, in Angola, it is more important to follow opportunities rather than passion. For this reason, she decided to change her course and start psychology, which she thinks can offer greater opportunities to work in the branch of education as a teacher. Anyway, she likes talking and listening to people, so psychology isn’t very far from what she likes to do.

In her family, everybody is very close to each other, each member of the family is very important: when you have a visit from an uncle or an aunt, it’s impossible to greet with a simple “good evening”, as you actually have to at least shake hands as well. A part of the family lives in Bocoio because her parents come from there, and Eduarda sometimes goes there to visit, but she says that Bocoio is a very small and quiet city where people are different (even their Portuguese sounds a bit different).

She has lived almost all her life in Cubal, and she likes the city a lot. In

The same black girl of the previous picture is standing next to a white woman.
Me and Eduarda

particular, she likes the people from Cubal, because she thinks they are more humble and simple, since the city is less developed and smaller compared to Benguela. In her opinion, in Cubal, it is easier to relate to people. She says that her friends in Benguela often end up talking about things that are complicated , like the university, and she starts feeling bad (Eduarda wants me to highlight that it’s not her friends that make her feel bad, it’s something inside herself). Probably these character differences are related to the different financial possibilities and due to the fact that, in Benguela, people have more opportunities to study, whereas, in Cubal, everyone has the same academic level.

As I mentioned earlier, I was able to take Eduarda to dance classes that night. Among the Angolan dances, she prefers semba, because it is a dance that moves her, lets her move her body a lot and doesn’t let her stand still. She also likes kuduro, that she used to dance very well, but lately she hasn’t danced much. Her favourite music is Lumony’s “O Quarto do Quintal”, a comical/ironic song (perfect for her because she loves to have fun). In terms of Kuduro, she loves Dj Lolo.

Lately, Eduarda decided to be a feminist because she has met some feminists and found the cause very important. Feminists, she explained to me, aren’t only seeking their benefit, but they seek a change for the whole society.

One of the things that impressed Eduarda the most, about the feminist women she met, is the way in which they accept themselves. They are positive women and accept themselves the way they are: they present themselves in a natural way and try to feel good about themselves the way they are. For them, too, support among women is important, and that seems like a good thing to Eduarda.

Eduarda is leaning towards the floor and placing her hand on a white sheet full of red hand marks, while smiling to the camera. She's surrounded by other young black people.
Eduarda in a local event against Gender-Based Violence

The fact of being a feminist changed her life completely. In her family, the girls are generally those who do all of the housework, but now Eduarda also makes the boys do some work (like washing clothes). She has also learned to value herself more the way she is. An example of this is her hair, of which lately she doesn’t take as much care as she did before: the important thing, for her, is that the hair is clean. Then, she can go out without spending too much time and money on it. She is the only one in her family who likes to be like that, but the family already knows and understands that she is a feminist, and they aren’t trying to change her.

I also hope she’ll never change, because I’ve enjoyed her transformation since I met her. Knowing that Angola has one more young feminist to fight for gender equality is, to me, an honour and a pleasure. I hope she will be, with all her determination, an example for many other young women: it is possible to imagine a life different from the one considered “normal”.

Written by: Caterina Manzi