March 2023, Year XV, n. 3
The Angolan Star
Telos: In April 2020, with the world literally closing in on itself in the Covid emergency, something extraordinary happened in one of the largest African countries: you were appointed Minister of Culture, Environment and Tourism by the President of Angola, João Lourenço. However, the post only lasted a few months. What did you achieve in that period and why did you leave?
Adjany Costa: My nomination was a surprise even to me. I do not have a political background, and neither do I aspire to pursue a political career. And that is why I was nominated in the first place: because I am a down-to-earth conservationist that could help promote applicable and realistic policies instead of those that might become obsolete with time. And I took that as the primary mission of my appointment. The first step was to create an institution to start with.
The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Environment was a newly created Super-Ministry with no legal structure. The first few months were dedicated to creating "The Giant", progressing the competences of the 3 previous ministries to fit into the current national and global pressing issues in the three realms. What had to be left behind, what had to be emphasised and worked on, what had to be added to each of the previous ministries… and how to combine it all into one with aligned goals and interconnecting priorities ...more
Female, young, knowledgeable, competent. These are already all the ingredients you need to make a highly respected minister. And that’s just what happened. Not a European woman, but an Angolan scholar, who was Minister of the Environment, Tourism and Culture for a few months in 2020.
At just 30 years old, biologist Adjany da Silva Freitas Costa took on this onerous task on 6 April 2020. For many this was a sign of change, wanted by the president João Lourenço, who had managed to cut the number of ministers from 28 to 21 in a country where the vested interests often outweigh the good management of public affairs.
But Lourenço didn’t stop there and grouped three ministries into one, “The Giant” as Adjany calls it in her interview for PRIMOPIANOSCALAc, and appointed a woman to lead it, in a matriarchal society where yet men still hold the reins.
Adjany Costa is a brilliant scholar, biologist and researcher; however, her CV wasn’t enough to curb local resistance and it failed, at least initially, to silence people’s perplexity. Her commitment to the environment made her the right person to take on an important, decisive challenge for Angola.
For Adjany, change happens through ideas, disrupting the status quo. Winner of the 2019 Young Champions of the Earth award, which the UN gives to environmentalists between the ages of 18 and 30, she was the director of the National Geographic Okavango-Zambezi project.
The Okavango River Delta is part of the largest inland wetland in southern Africa. More than a million people depend on this delta, which extends through Angola, Namibia and Botswana ...more