Biography: Teacher Idalina Beatriz Njivala Namupa Salondeka

Teacher Idalina Beatriz Njivala Namupa Salondeka

Text by Pedro Chindondo with the editorial coordination of Emilia Etaungo Sicato. Luanda, March 29, 2021. English Translation by Frank Collins.

Idalina Beatriz Njivala Namupa Salondeka was born on May 10, 1930, daughter of Salondeka Mukinda and Chimuma Chopetu of Miapia/Chiumbo, in Huambo Province. She started pre-primary school in her native village (Miapia) where she did three years. After finishing a fourth year of school, Idalina was selected to continue her studies at the Dondi/Lutamo Mission, whose director was Missionary Celénia Pires Ferreira. She was baptized and confirmed as a Member in Full Communion by Reverend Bernardo Kayuye, in the Congregational Church (now IECA), in the village in which she was born, Miapia/Chiumbo.

In 1943, Idalina advanced to continue her studies at Means School in Dondi and, during vacations, she taught domestic sciences classes at the Centro* of Vila Bela Ulondo. During the four years at Means School, Idalina, still a student, undertook evangelizing missions in the Benguela area, in 1946, when Reverend Jessé Chiula Chipenda was pastor of Lobito.

On October 5, 1947, at the Lutamo-Dondi Church, Idalina married teacher Pedro Sanjenguela Chindondo, with whom she had five children, including four boys and a girl: Valdemar, Anibal, Etna, Fonseca, and Peregrino. The following year the family travelled to the Centro of Kambongue/Chinguar (the Umbundu is Chinguali), where her husband was posted as a Teacher. In 1950, in the face of persecution by Portuguese colonists, the couple, protected by a French friend, traveled to Teixeira de Sousa (Luau) in Eastern Angola, and later to Dilolo in the Belgian Congo, now the Democratic Republic of Congo, where they lived for three years.

Given the Chindondos’ vocation and passion for teaching, they decided to establish a school to teach the basics in the interior of Angola, in the village of Lussinda, in the administrative area of Teixeira de Sousa (now Luau), Moxico Province. Here, over three years the couple built a primary school with the objective of helping many children to come out of ignorance, and to combat illiteracy. Included in what the couple taught was bible study, twice a week.

In 1955, given a lack of teachers, the couple was invited by the Missionaries to return to the Dondi Mission. In Dondi, Idalina’s husband worked with several teachers, including: Tiago Martinho Epalanga, Lourenço Chinhangua Joaquim, Diamantino Stover, Eurico Sangueve and Benjamim Liwanhika. In 1948 the latter completed the 5th year of high school at the Colégio Alexandre Herculano, in Nova Lisboa (the Umbundu is Huambo), with excellent grades, which drew the attention of the colonial Public Police.

Although Idalina’s husband was a teacher at Dondi Mission, Lutamo, he chose to enroll his two sons (Valdemar and Anibal), in Primary School Nº 35, in the town of Bela Vista, now Kachiungo. Later, the couple decided to build a house and live in Bairro Sousa, although teacher Pedro continued to teach in Lutamo. This gave rise to some controversy.

In February 1959, Mãe** Idalina lost her husband following unsuccessful surgery. As a result of her husband’s death, Idalina, with five children, lost everything. At this point the Missionaries of Dondi took the family in and put Idalina in charge of the girls boarding school. Despite those duties, Idalina enrolled in the nursing course given at the Dondi Hospital. When she could find the time, Idalina knitted socks, gloves, scarves, sweaters, lace, quilts, and baby clothes, which she then sold to new mothers in the maternity wards of the Dondi Hospital. With this money she educated her children and managed to send her first-born son to Luanda to study veterinary medicine.

Though a widow, Mãe Idalina was busy with many tasks: she raised chickens, ducks, turkeys, and pigs; she did manual work; she gardened and farmed in Lutamo to produce vegetables, cereals, fruit, and wheat; she taught Portuguese and Umbundu to missionaries Lillian (Taylor) and (Margaret) Newman. Idalina was always a woman of great faith and very persistent in achieving her goals, despite losing two children in times of war and being in very strait circumstances. She remained very faithful to the church in her work and in supporting and counseling women. In the church she held positions such as deaconess and counselor. She gave training to women, supported and helped many people. She was an active member of the Nova Vida pastorate until October 9, 2008 when, in Luanda, she departed to Heavenly Glory at the age of 78.The Congregational church and all Angolans are grateful for her contribution to Angola.

* Outside of its mission stations the church was organized into “Centros”. A Centro had a pastor, a school and more.

** “Mãe” is supercharged with meaning – Mother, a way to address or refer to an aunt, or any lady that one sees as a mother or aunt to us all.