Marcelo won the nickname of "Tio Celito" the first time he was in Luanda, at the inauguration of João Lourenço in 2017. He returns now to consolidate Luso-Angolan reputation and normalization.
Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa will return to teaching... in Angola. The professor speaks to the students of the Agostinho Neto University in Luanda and the Mandame Ya Ndemufayo University in Lubango in meetings where he is expected to live up to the nickname of Tio Celito (Uncle Celito), as he affectionately became known in Angola after September visit of 2017 for the taking office of João Lourenço. Back then, Marcelo became a popular hero for Angolans by distributing hugs, posing for selfies and not neglecting to take a sea bath on the island of Luanda.
Something similar is expected to happen now, with the expectation in Luanda that the level of popular adhesion and interaction between the Portuguese president and the Angolans surpasses the levels of enthusiasm seen in 2017. At the inauguration ceremony of João Lourenço, Marcelo was the only foreign ruler to which the public actually reacted, and he was greeted noisily when his presence was announced.
In this visit, an atmosphere of the same nature would contribute to reinforce the perception of being in the presence of Portuguese-Angolan relations that are distended and in the process of total normalization.
The very beginning of Marcelo's journey to Angola underlines this personal and affective side. The Portuguese President arrives in Luanda unofficially on Tuesday, 5, to attend the 65th anniversary of his Angolan counterpart.
The official program begins the next day, Wednesday, 6, and ends on Saturday, the 9th. On Wednesday, Marcelo is received by João Lourenço at the official residence. Afterwards, there will be a joint press conference. Next, the Portuguese President addresses a solemn session in the National Assembly.
On this first day, Marcelo returns to academic life, speaking first with students of the Faculty of Law of Agostinho Neto University. Later, he will have another meeting of the same nature, at the Mandame Ya Ndemufayo University in Lubango.
The reading in Belém is precisely that "normalization runs full steam" and that the four days of the official visit will be a mirror of the Angolan President's "excellent visit under all aspects" to Portugal in November 2018.
Marcelo himself anticipates this conclusion in one of the interviews given to Angolan media. Speaking to the weekly newspaper Vanguarda, yesterday, the Portuguese president classifies as a "motivating moment" the current state of Luso-Angolan relations after "too many" years of "waiting time, postponement, lack of closer contact" between the two countries.
At present, the Portuguese Head of State considers "longer-term economic, social, cultural, administrative and institutional bets" are important.
The president's agenda includes several situations to prove these bets: Marcelo will be on Thursday, 7, at a Luso-Angolan economic forum in Benguela; on Friday, 8th, he will travel by train on the legendary Benguela railway between Lobito and Catumbela, in a gesture highlighting the importance of this transport in the development of Angola and the role of the Portuguese presence in its positive aspects; he will also visit the food quality laboratory in Luanda, a priority area for Angola and where the two countries develop important cooperation.
Along with the distension and convergence in the political-diplomatic sphere, as witnessed by the visits of João Lourenço to Portugal and, before him, from António Costa to Luanda in September 2018, "the confidence levels of businessmen are improving," thinks João Traça. For the president of the Portugal-Angola Chamber of Commerce and Industry, "the love and affection that President Marcelo has for the Angolan people" will have an equivalent in the "way of receiving" that will be witnessed next week. In this picture, Marcelo's visit has everything to be memorable. For the President... and for Luso-Angolan relations.