tectonic:TOMBWA in the Namibe desert, southwest coast of Angola

‘tectonik:TOMBUA’ (30’), 20th january 6 p.m. auditório 3 Gulbenkian Foundation - LISBON


a project by Victor Gama
in the Namibe desert, southwest coast of Angola :

in the wake of Prof. Augusto Zita’s incomplete research work “An anthropology of Utopia: formation of Utopian identities”. 


What is tectonik:TOMBWA a recosntruction of Augusto Zita’s research

tectonik:TOMBWA is a project initiated by Victor Gama in the desert of Namibe, Angola, in 2006 with the aim of reconstructing and interpret professor Augusto Zita’s research thesis “An anthropology of Utopia: formation of Utopian identities”. The project is based on his fragmented notes, and is intended to resurface his thoughts, concepts and refletions. For that aim Gama started an archive of some of the main items pointed out by prof. Augusto in his notes such as recordings of sounds collected with a specific device in the Namibe desert, photografs and videos of several features along the road from Namibe to Tombwa, as well as a collection of objects found laying on the ground, different types of sands, dryed leaves of plants and many other items.

The archive has now grown to quite a reazonable size and has expanded to incorporate new field sites in South Africa and Antarctica.

New field trips are programmed for 2013 and beyond and work on the present archive is ongoing in order to understand and explain some of the concepts that prof. Augusto developed such as, for instance, the concept of ‘dark space’. Other important concepts include that of a new time/space system where light is included as a third dimension.

Who was Augusto Zita N’Gonguenho

In 1983, Angolan anthropologist Augusto Zita N’Gonguenho initiated a research project in the southwest coast of Angola. The project was titled “An anthropology of Utopia: formation of Utopian identities” and revolved around the concept of Utopia while directly establishing a connection with European colonial expansionism.

Prof. Augusto Zita’s main interest in this research was that of explaining his country’s colonial history by analysing closely what motivated it.

In following this objective he made a comparative study of all utopia texts that had been written in Europe since the Greek philosophers from the Vth century b.c. through to the XXth century a.c. and established convincing links to the Portuguese administrative structure, in Angola.

From Plato’s Republic, Thomas Moore’s Utopia, Johann Andrea’s Christianopolis, Francis Bacon’s The New Atlantis, Tomasso Campanella’s The City of the Sun, Samuel Gott’s Nova Solyma, Tiphaigne de la Roche’s Giphantia, Emile Thirion’s Neustria, and many more, all of them from European philosophers, historians, thinkers, Prof. Augusto deducted a pattern of thought, a system of values and a vision that, he argued, led to the administration system, urban planning, infrastructure and social organization of his country during colonialism from Portugal. 

As his research and field work site he used the remains of a Portuguese colonial administrative structure built in the beginning of the 20th century, the Cantoneiros’ houses in the desert of Namibe, along the road from the city of Namibe to the port of Tombwa where the only existing seven houses, distancing 12 km from each other, lay in ruins today.

In his approach, Professor Augusto used both scientific and non-scientific methods such as divination systems and ritualistic processes that stemmed from knowledge systems from his home country. One such system consisted in analysing the leaves of a plant in the desert known as Welwichia Mirabilis. This system derives from the animist belief that plants and animals also have spirits and therefore are able to be used as witnesses.


Unfortunately his field research was interrupted by his sudden death in a car accident on that same road, in September 1987. His work was lost until, in the early 2000s, part of his archives, notes he had taken during his research were found accidentally in South Africa in a military base and later handed over to Angolan/Portuguese composer and sound artist Victor Gama.

It is now thought that the National Intelligence Service (NIS), the secret services of the apartheid South Africa, that had invaded Angola during the seventies and eighties, were behind his death.

Links were found between Prof. Augusto’s death and operations by the NIS to camouflage South Africa’s Nuclear Weapons Programme.



South Africa was isolated from interactions and activities with most of the developed countries for many years because of its nuclear weapons development program and the practice of apartheid. This isolation was especially true in the areas of nuclear energy and its applications. South Africa developed a complete nuclear fuel cycle, including advanced waste management techniques.

South Africa also acquired the technology to build nuclear weapons. It had developed at least six nuclear warheads, which it later acknowledged, along with a variety of missiles and other conventional weapons as delivery systems capable of reaching thousands of miles. These projects were undertaken with some cooperation from Israel.

A flash over the Indian Ocean detected by an American satellite in September 1979 was suspected of being a nuclear test, possibly conducted by South Africa, alone or in cooperation with Israel, but never acknowledged.

The international fear of nuclear proliferation made South Africa the focus of intense concern during the 1980s. Cape Town academic Renfrew Christie was jailed for passing details of South Africa’s nuclear power program to the African National Congress [ANC] in 1980, who’s main base then was in Luanda, capital of Angola. It is possible that these plans had fallen in the hands of the KGB.

by vários
Vou lá visitar | 5 January 2013 | namibe desert, sound, victor gama