Malanje [Malange]

Lat: -9.546252997800900, Long: 16.347824988927000

Malanje [Malange]

Malanje, Angola

Historical Background and Urbanism

Around 1843, near the villages of Capopa, some traders settled, trading in goods intended for Luanda. It had long been a halt for the caravans heading for Dondo on the right bank of the Cuanza. As a support base for the Cassanje market and later for the military campaigns against the Jagas in the 1850s-1860s, there was the establishment of a settlement in 1857 followed by the construction of the fort in 1862. In this context an infantry company was formed in order to escort the caravans between Ambaca and Cassanje. When commerce at the Cassanje market suffered serious setbacks after 1861, Malanje attracted numerous Ambaquista, Bangala and Portuguese traders who brought rubber and ivory from Lubuco for the trading houses in Dondo. The town was made a municipal seat in 1870 and capital of the district of Lunda from 1895 until 1921. During that period it concentrated the colonial expeditions for the military occupation of the lands beyond Cuango. Moreover, in the last decades of the 19th century, it was a usual stopover for German and Portuguese explorers such as Capelo and Ivens, H. Carvalho, Wissmann, Pogge and Buchner. Its African inhabitants and some Europeans took charge of trade and agriculture while the transport of goods was initially done by slave carriers and later by servants. Begun in 1886, the Ambaca railway reached Malanje as late as 1909, establishing an easier connection with Luanda and with the production areas in between, thus boosting both population and economic growth. The town attracted waves of colonists from the 1920s and became a strong centre of white population in the 1960s-1970s. The district of Malanje was created in 1921. As a result of the economic expansion of the district and the establishment of a number of commercial companies in the city, its population reached a total of 9,473 inhabitants in 1950. This number quadrupled in 1960 to 38,811 inhabitants, among whom 9,000 were white. The economic boom of the post-war era in Malanje, elevated to city status in 1932, led to a significant increase in cotton exploitation and the implantation of the food industry on the urban fringe – oil products, crueira (the coarse part of cassava flour that does not pass through the sieve in the sifting process) and cassava flour, pastas, coffee, sugar, rice stripping – as well as factories for the production of ceramics, lime, footwear, leather goods, tobacco, cotton and timber). Following the Second World War, the significant increase in the profits of some companies, which included the major companies of Cotonang and Diamang, increased the tax revenue of the district and, alongside important public investments, made urban expansion and restructuring feasible. In fact, through the illegal diamond trade, significant profits were invested in the construction sector in the 1950s-1960s, particularly in concrete buildings of several floors built on the main arteries of the city. In few years, hotels, bank branches, private schools, company headquarters, clubs, and cinemas emerged. The increasingly intense implementation of religious structures of the churches Methodist and Catholic also contributed to a change in the image of Malanje. The Catholic Mission established in 1890 would become a dynamic force in the city, giving rise to buildings connected with its social work, the education of young Africans and Europeans and the missionary communities settled in the city. The same applies to the parish churches, the Mission Church and the Seminary (1927), the more recent buildings of the Social Centre, the Saint Joseph of Cluny Private College, the Church of Fátima (1960s) and the Teacher Training School (1968). The year 1957 saw the creation of the diocese of Malanje and the establishment of the Episcopal Palace. A Methodist mission, founded in 1885, later built the church which brings together numerous believers, along with the Quéssua Mission.
The first survey of Malanje dated 1857 reveals a very heterogeneous rural area, crossed by the river with the same name and a vast swamp, the Quizanga. A few settlements surrounded by fields of crops and connected to each other by paths accentuated the rural character of the region from which the agricultural properties of European traders emerged. The construction of the fortress overlooking the plain located east of the original settlement was designed by Francisco Pereira Dutra, entrusted with the Public Works Department (1861). It had “a bastion-type line of defense, in a square of 223 metres each side, buildings for housing the council chiefs and the commander, the officers and the soldiers, and others for public and private service”. It was demolished in 1894 and the fortified line that surrounded the town still possessed some ruins in 1898. In this higher and thus more salubrious area the core of the “white city” was beginning to take shape along Rua Principal (Main Street) to form a right angle and centred on the fortress, the courthouse and the Quitanda on the Old Church Square (church built between 1860 and 1872 and in ruins in the early 20th century). The slaughterhouse and the Mobile Company barracks were also in the surrounding area. The Catholic Mission, under the charge of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, gave rise to a quarter for Christian families in which lived artisans and apprentices trained in the mission as well as a catequists, teachers and musicians. Its location is marked on the plan mapped out in 1904 by Veloso de Castro, clearly showing the railway and station, as well as a more complex urban plan with several streets of internal and external connection. At the time there was a predominance of single-storey houses along the main road from Lucala to Quissol, whereas squares and parallel streets structured the urban network around the main core: the old Quitanda Square and the more recent Veríssimo Sarmento Square. The centre and the outskirts had a succession of adobe houses with grass roofs and wattle and daub shacks inhabited by the African population in areas adjoining the European quarters. The year 1924 saw the drawing up of a new plan for the town which foresaw the enlargement of the Avenida Principal (Main Avenue) along its 1,200 metres, passing in front of the Mission and the new parochial church. Despite the fact that, in the 1930s, the “white city” was modernized with new roads, houses and some public buildings, the urban structure remained the same. Malanje was then mentioned by Henrique Galvão as having a: “plateau freshness in the air with the same Portuguese layout of settlements in Angola, it being the first major conquest of white civilization in the northern interior of Angola”. In the old site of the main square, near the government palace, were implanted the buildings of the Bank of Angola and of the Associação Comercial e Industrial do Planalto (Commercial and Industrial Association of the Plateau), erasing traces of the simple, early constructions. In 1949 there were 269 buildings of permanent construction, 401 adobe buildings and 320 houses of wattle and daub. The postwar era saw an increase in the construction of vital facilities such as the power station and the electricity supply network, the water system and the sewage system (between 1932 and 1951), the conclusion of the hospital (1949) and of the post office and telegraphs building (1928-1948), the regional high school (1950), the airport, the new bridge over the Capopa River, etc. The urbanization plan, approved in 1951, was an innovative proposal on the garden city model, with its fabric stretching southwards and eastwards. In the old plan, along the main streets and squares were located public and private new buildings. Finally, there was the enrichment with the minimal structures of peripheral quarters – Maxinde, Quizanga, Carreira de Tiro, Katepa, Kanambua, Kangambu, Ritondo, Vila Matilde – which encompassed a growing African population, composed of employees, blue-collar workers and workmen from the various economic sectors. There was also the construction of a new quarter in Maxinde and the Cotonang Quarter which was designed for the company European employees.

Equipment and Infrastructures

Religious Architecture