Views of suburban Luanda: the move from an informal settlement to social housing

by Dr Chloé Buire

This is the first of two guest posts by Dr Chloé Buire examining the expansion of suburban Luanda. It focuses on Panguila, a relocation settlement for residents of Luanda’s slums, and chronicles the experiences of the Domingos family (all names have been changed). A second article will consider Kilamba New City, a satellite town designed for the country’s emerging middle-class.

Although radically different in scale and vision, Panguila and Kilamba are both state-planned but foreign-constructed settlements on Luanda’s periphery. They exemplify the rapid suburbanisation of Angola’s capital and provide insights into the regime’s vision of modernity.

Luanda, like many post-colonial cities, retains a pronounced divide between the city centre, planned for European settlers, and the unplanned periphery, characterised by self-built structures housing the African population. Locals use the term cidade to refer to the city centre, while labelling the districts which now surround them as musseques, literally “places of red earth”.


Dr Buire was, until recently, a post-doctoral research associate at Durham University, UK, and prior to that a post-doctoral fellow at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. She is about to take up a new post at the CNRS / Laboratoire Les Afriques dans le Monde, in Bordeaux, France. Her work on Luanda was originally published in African Studies under the title, ‘The Dream and the Ordinary: An Ethnographic Investigation of Suburbanisation in Luanda’.