Angola – Mission accomplished!

A near fatal accident on the eve of February 23 could not dampen the determination and resolve of President Manuel de Sousa of Luanda Rotary to complete his mission to create an awareness opportunity for the Kick Polio Out of Africa soccer ball that would touch down briefly in Luanda from 25 – 26 February.

As the Minister of Health was not available to sign the ball, one way to mark the event was a visit to the Polio statue at Miramar – Alto das Cruzes, one of three monuments erected  to acknowledge  Rotary’s contribution to polio eradication in Angola. The first one (outside the Maria Pia – Josina Machel Hospital) was inaugurated by President Jose Eduardo dos Santos on 10 August 1996 to mark the 1st Polio Immunisation Campaign in response to the appeal by President Nelson Mandela to “Kick Polio Out of Africa”. The second (above) on 23 August 1997 to commemorate the second immunisation campaign. The third statue was erected at the Public National Radio in 1998.

Rotary has been involved in the polio eradication program, as a preferential partner of the Angolan Health Ministry for more than 10 years, most recently participating in NIDs in November last year.

But the best was yet to come.

President Manuel with Angolan Striker Fabrice Akwa

The universe intervened when President Manuel, on Friday, February 26, had a chance meeting in an insurance company with Angola’s still most popular and revered soccer player in Angola –  striker Fabrice Akwa – now a relevant public figure having switched to politics after retiring from soccer. Akwa’s most important function is that of role model for Angolan youth – to become future AKWAs. He also promotes the importance of education among the homeless and street children. Akwa and President Manuel de Sousa are seen here shaking hands – “in a strong tie of solidarity”.

Before the independence of Angola, there were  five Rotary clubs in Angola –  another in Luanda, Huambo, Lubango and in Lobito. The only club to survive the relevant transition period of the history of Angola, was the RC of Luanda. They celebrate their 55th anniversary on 23 September this year.

The soccer ball signed by President Manuel and Akwa

We recognise the relentless commitment of this small army of commited Rotarians who have consistently contributed so much to polio eradication over such long a period, under difficult circumstances, to Kick Polio Out of Africa, and the world.

We salute you!

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