Operation Leave Home: a new social media trend encourages young Angolans to fly the coop

Mario Igoor Diias, a resident of Namibe (Angola), is seen here leaving his mother's home. Photo used with his permission.

Operation Leave Home is a social media trend created by young Angolans to encourage each other to strike out on their own.

In the past few months, hundreds of youth have posted images of themselves packing up and moving out of their parents’ home, an act of defiance and victory for those working toward personal independence.

But most of them can't really leave because they're stuck at home. The movement calls attention to the fact that many young Angolans stay home due to chronic financial crises, with youth unemployment hovering around 56 percent.

Operation Leave Home is trending after the viral meme challenge known as ‘You just killed me swept Angola with youth protesting the negligence of their government to care for basic needs.

Precarious lives, limited opportunity

On July 21, 2018, hundreds of youth marched in the capital city Luanda against high unemployment, demanding compliance with the promises made by Angolan President João Lourenço to create 500,000 jobs.

Viriato da Cruz, 28, one of the organizers, says he has been unemployed for seven years. 

According to a cost of living survey that analyzes the cost of 200 categories including housing and transport, the city of Luanda was ranked one of the most expensive cities in the world for everyday goods.

Fernanda Januário NGuami Maka, a communications student at the Private University of Angola, joined the Operation Leave Home campaign by sharing images of her leaving her parents’ home. Beyond comedic relief, she sees the trend as a form of protest against the current situation in Angola. 

Addressing the government, she writes: 

Entenda mano (a).

Este tema que muitos apenas o olham pelo lado cómico é uma forma de protestar a situação actual do povo Angolano. Os jovens Angolanos na sua maioria adultos ainda vivem sobre tutela dos Pais motivo pelo qual entenda o verdadeiro sentido do tema “SAI DA CASA DA VELHA”

Tira-me da casa da velha vc que estás a piorar a vida dos jovens na desgraça. Tira-me da casa da Mãe vc que na abundancia só se preocupou com o desvio do erário público.

Tira-me daqui, vc que só está preocupado comigo quando precisas do meu voto. Tira-me da casa da Mãe, vc que não consegue construir escolas mais vive dizendo que estas a combater o analfabetismo.

Me tira daqui porra vc que não cria políticas de emprego + continuas a corres com as zungueiras, vc que aproveita da farda para extorquir os taxistas.

My friend,

This theme that many just look at on the comic side is a way of protesting the current situation of the Angolan people. Young Angolans, for the most part, are still living off of parental responsibility, so that they understand the true meaning of the theme “LEAVING PARENTS’ HOME.”

Get me out of my parents’ home, you're making young peoples’ lives worse off in disgrace. Get me out of the house of my mother.

Get me out of here, you're just worried about me when you need my vote. Get me out of my mother's house, you can not build schools anymore, you're saying that you're fighting against illiteracy.

Get me out of here, you do not create employment policies, you take advantage of the uniform to extort taxi drivers.

Fernanda Januário NGuami Maka participates in the Operation Leave Home campaign. Photo used with her permission.

Tatiana Pinheiro and Ilda Calandula, both students at the Independent University of Angola, told Global Voices that it is not so bad for young people to want to live at home with their parents, citing cultural reasons:

Há questões culturais que estão patentes em algumas grupos étnicos que podem estar na base de muitas famílias não permitirem com que os seus membros festejem longe deles.

Ou seja, há uma raiz familiar e cultural, que pode ser vista a nível da construção de habitações que sirva para toda a família em um só espaço físico, num quintal com maior dimensão para estes serem repartidos em pequenas residências onde todos podem viver.

There are cultural issues which belongs to some ethnic groups that may be the basis of many families not allowing their members to party away from them.

There are family and cultural aspects about the [structure of our] houses which serve the whole family in a single physical space with the larger dimension distributed into smaller homes where everyone can live.

However, Graça Isabella Sebastião, another young woman who joined and supports the movement, wrote on her Facebook page in desperation: 

Operação saír da casa da velha: Alguém aí de boa fé pra me acolher, nesse momento estou na rua chorando sem saber onde ir.

Operation leaving the parents’ home: someone to welcome me? At this moment, I am on the street crying without knowing where to go.

With thousands of young Angolans eager to leave their parents’ nest, several Facebook groups with the name Operation Leave Home have been started. 

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