Kinaxixi Market: Going, going, gone!

Similar to what happened to the beautiful Palace D. Ana Joaquina, the historic Kinaxixi Market was knocked down after a long wait, time in which proposals ranged from restoration to demolition. Many, like Diuska [pt], still do not believe that they saw the market being destroyed:

Esse emblemático local de Luanda, de onde a minha avó recorda os cheiros e as cores de que tanto fala. Onde ia comprar as suas frutas, antes de ir para casa no Largo Ferreira do Amaral, logo ali ao lado, está a cair de uma forma cruel. De uma forma imposta, que não era suposto ser. O Kinaxixi tem o inalienável direito de cair por si próprio!

Nunca pensei que fosse ver deuses e homens aliados numa só missão: deitar o Kinaxixi abaixo. Não sei quem engendrou este esquema, não sei quem esteve na origem desta acção, mas com certeza não me vou esquecer do boquiaberto ar dos transeuntes a olharem o pó a subir no ar.

This symbolic place in Luanda from where my grandmother recalls and tells us about smells and colors coming. Where she would go to buy fruit, before going back home to Largo Ferreira do Amaral, right next to it [the market], is falling down in such a cruel way. An imposed way, a way it was not supposed to be. Kinaxixi has the inalienable right to fall on its own! I never thought that I would see gods and men together on a single mission: knock Kinaxixi down. I don’t know who plotted this, I don’t know who was behind this decision, but of course I will not forget the stupefied looks of passersby watching the dust rising in the air.

 

Up to 2003, this historic site housed Luanda’s large market of groceries, but things began to change after the withdrawal and transfer of local traders to other markets. At the time, there were talks of renovation and this was what traders and the population expected to happen, but two years later the market was doomed to abandonment. It was then that the news of the sale to a private company broke.

This was followed by the first project developed by a company with Portuguese partners, which envisaged the partial destruction of the market. For whatever reason, unknown to the general public, the original project led to the plan to build a shopping mall in association with Macon group – a public transport company. The investment for the shopping center was budgeted at around 30 million dollars for a 20 year lease.

According to Anabela Quelhas [pt], who has been campaigning for the renovation of Kinaxixi since 2006, the process of demolition is almost always the same, and reflects the devaluation of heritage in the face of economic power. Not only in Angola does it happen in the following way:

Falta de manutenção

Não adaptação às novas exigências.

Conflitos intencionais com o tráfego envolvente.

Concorrência selvagem dos shopings

Fiscalização exagerada

Aceleração da degradação

Acumulação de lixo

Por os média a falar nas alternativas e a manipular a opinião publica

Dar visibilidade à degradação do espaço físico

Esquecer o que dizem meia dúzia de intelectuais

Proporcionar que o edificio seja suporte de grafittis e publicidade

Permitir a ocupação ilegal de preferência por marginais

Demolição ou incêndio

Lack of maintenance

No compliance with new regulations.

Intentional conflicts with surrounding traffic.

Wild competition with shopping centres

Exaggerated surveillance

Acceleration of degradation

Accumulation of garbage

Having the media talk about alternatives and to manipulate public opinion

Giving visibility to the degradation of physical space

Forgetting about what a handful of intellectuals say

Providing that the building is used for advertising and graffiti

Allowing illegal occupation, preferably by scoundrels

Demolition or fire

 

Opinions are divided. The Luandaners dissatisfaction is reflected in this text, from Mankakoso’s [pt] blog:

Não sei como querem ter empreendimentos do primeiro mundo, coisas da mais alta tecnologia quando não conseguem resolver problemas da idade média como o saneamento básico. Estou já a ver o filme. À noite o shopping todo iluminado e os prédios ao redor às escuras e fedorentos. De dia os transeuntes feito um enxame de moscas à volta do shopping e as varandas dos cúbicos (casas) com os estendais prenhes de lençóis encardidos e esburacados. As zungueiras (vendedoras de rua) a venderem sacos de plásticos, biquínis, sandes de atum, chouriçadas e os miúdos da rua a lavarem os carros no parque de estacionamento do shopping Kinaxixi. As lojas do shopping sem telefones para puderem mandar faxes ou emails aos seus fornecedores no estrangeiro e não só. As casas do shopping sem água, etc. Amigos, precisamos de shopping sim senhor. Mas antes necessitamos ter água canalizada sempre, luz todos os dias e comunicações. Precisamos ter estradas asfaltadas ao invés de esburacadas para permitir maior fluidez de tráfego rodoviário de modo a que os camiões com bens para o shopping não fiquem encravados nos chamados engarrafamentos rotineiros desta cidade. Ouvi vários comentários sobre a construção do shopping Kinaxixi sobre os milhões de dólares que vão ser gastos e concluí: nós somos vaidosos. Qual é a importância deste shopping para aquele angolano sem escola, sem hospital, sem luz eléctrica e sem água corrente?

I don’t know how they want to have first world [standards for] business, highest technological gadgets when they can’t even solve medieval problems such as that of basic sanitation. I get the picture. At night, the whole shopping centre will be illuminated and the buildings around it will be in the dark, and smelly. In the day time, passersby will be like a swarm of flies bustling around the shopping while the cubic (houses) balconies have lines full of grimy and holey linen. Zungueiras (street vendors) selling plastic bags, bikinis, tuna sandwiches, chorizo, and kids on the streets washing the cars at the Kinaxixi Shopping car park. The stores in the shopping centre will have no phones so that faxes or emails can be sent to their suppliers abroad and beyond. Boxes in the shopping centre with no water, etc… Friends, we need a shopping centre indeed. But first we need to have tap water, electricity every day and communication. We need paved roads instead of pot-holed ones to allow a greater flow of traffic, so that trucks with goods for the shopping centre are not stuck in the so-called routine traffic jams in this city. I heard several comments about the construction of the Kinaxixi shopping centre and the millions of dollars that will be spent and concluded: we’re vain. What is the importance of this shopping centre for the Angolan who has no school, no hospital, no electricity and is without running water?

Angolan and Portuguese architects are horrified at this historic massacre and although they protested against the demolition andorganized a petition [pt], their voices were not heard and they could do nothing to save the market. Manuel Correia Fernandes, Portuguese architect said to the Portuguese newspaper Público that “we can only weep tears of all sizes at this barbaric act. It was a piece of architecture with a huge amount of quality, a beautiful copy of Corbusian modernism, but with great autonomy.”

Exclusive photo taken on the day the Kinaxixi Market was being knocked down, kindly provided by José Manuel Lima da Silva, Flickr user Kool2bBop

Kinaxixi Market was built in the 50′s under Vasco Vieira da Costa’s baton, Portuguese architect trained at the School of Fine Arts of Oporto, Portugal. He travelled to Paris and worked there for some time with the French architect Le Corbusier. The City Market of Luanda was his first work in the Angolan capital. Kianda [pt], who grew up going to market with her father on Saturday mornings, recalls:

É um edifício referenciado nos livros de arquitectura universal como uma referência conceptual e construtiva, o edificio reflecte os elementos base do pensamento sobre arquitectura tropical, ou seja a ventilação cruzada, o recurso ao grande pé direito, a luminosidade controlada, as protecções a poente no percurso da incidência solar, as relações espaço/ventilação, humidade/conforto térmico.

It is a building listed in the books of architecture as a universal conceptual and constructive reference, the building reflects the basic elements of thought on tropical architecture, that’s to say, the ventilation across, the use of big, high ceilings, brightness control, protections from the west path of solar incidence, a space/ventilation relation, moisture/thermal comfort.

As I said in the opening lines of this text, the Angolan government did something similar about ten years ago to Ana Joaquina Palace, which had been built during the eighteenth century and classified as “Property of Public Interest” in 1951, being subject to technical appraisal by UNESCO experts some years before due to its stressed importance. Despite the protests, from historians and architecture specialists and technicians, the government carried out the destruction of the palace only to build a replica shortly after, where today the Provincial Court of Luanda is housed.

Divided opinions

Some believe that these are signs of modern times, such as OTB [pt], one of over 60 commentators on Kianda’s post mentioned above:

Quanto ao Kinaxixe. Chão com ele. Os paises têm de se modernizar. Deixemo-nos de lamechiches e de prendermo-nos a antiguidades. O mundo é dinamico, a vida é dinamica. Deite-se abaixo e construa-se algo que seja util aos Angolanos. Ana Joaquina foi o inicio, Kinaxixe a seguir e outros irão abaixo para termos uma Angola Moderna e sem lembranças de um passado condescendência servil.

On the Kinaxixe. Down with it. Countries need to modernize. Let us stop the slush and sinking to antiques. The world is dynamic, life is dynamic. Down with it and build something that is useful to the Angolans. Ana Joaquina was the beginning, Kinaxixe next and others will be knocked down so that something useful to Modern Angola takes place and without memories of a condescending servile past.

Wilson Dadá [pt], on the other hand, says that one thing doesn’t override the other, and with the demolition it was the rampant property speculation that won the situation:

Para quem como eu cresceu passando todos os domingos por aquele mercado em direcção a classe central da Igreja Metodista, não é fácil aceitar um tamanho atentado contra o património da nossa cidade.

Não estamos, obviamente, contra o surgimento dos shoppings nem dos arranha-céus, mas não podemos aceitar que eles nasçam destruindo tudo quanto é história e memória desta cidade, num país, onde o que mais existe é espaço de sobra o desenvolvimento de novas urbanizações, para a edificação de novas cidades.

For those who like me grew up going every Sunday to that market on the way to the Methodist Church class, it is not easy to accept a huge attack on the heritage of our city.

We are not, of course, opposed to the emergence of shopping malls or the skyscrapers, but we cannot accept that they are built destroying all the history and memory of this city, in a country where there is plenty of room for new developments, for the construction of new cities.

Exclusive photo taken on the day the Kinaxixi Market was being knocked down, kindly provided by José Manuel Lima da Silva, Flickr user Kool2bBop