I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

Colin Murphy

Not So Dark

Here is Dowden’s description of Angola at the height of the civil war, in the 1980s: “a marxist regime armed by the Soviet Union and protected by Cuban troops is kept going by revenues from oil extracted by American oil companies whose operations are being attacked by American-backed socialist rebels”. This was history as tragedy and farce at the same time.

Where Oil Is King

These words should send warning signals: most of the authors are exponents of a brand of African political sociology that is overly fond of neologisms and obscure typologies. Patrick Chabal talks about “neo-patrimonialism”; Christine Messiant writes about “the mutation of hegemonic domination”; Nuno Vidal describes the regime’s “patrimonial and clientelistic operation”. Whether there is a useful distinction to be drawn between “patrimonial” and “neo-patrimonial” I don’t know; the shorthand is that the Angolan regime is very, very corrupt.