‘Can we name ourselves Savimbi?’: Crevice Moments and Spaces of National Reimagination in the Angolan Scouts

  • Jess Auerbach Stellenbosch University


This paper presents an analysis of contemporary citizenship in one group of Angolan
boy scouts in 2014. It uses Shiera El-Malik’s notion of ‘crevice moments’1 to explore
specific instances of dialogue and action which reveal opening and possibility within
a largely closed state that have thus far not been reflected in existing scholarly literature.
The paper further considers the reasons for scouting’s popularity in post-war
Angola, arguing that its military structure, religious basis, and focus on ‘adventure’
and social interactions have made it a highly desirable space for young people in
a context where few opportunities exist for leisure activities. Finally, scouting enables
a reconstitution of military and ideological symbols including uniforms, the
socialist ideological construction of ‘the new man,’ and ‘nature’ in a way that, as one
scout leader put it, is ‘fit for peace’. In this process, past, present and future are reconstituted
by a movement that itself is formed and transformed in contradiction and
colonial echo.