Before he was laid to rest Sunday, the Angolan man known as Pai Grande, or Big Dad, drew a crowd of at least 1,000 people – including most, if not all, of his 156 surviving children and 250 grandchildren – to pay their respects.
- Tchikuteny, who was in his early 70s, died last Tuesday of prostate cancer, relatives told VOA’s Portuguese Service. He had sought treatment in Luanda and elsewhere more than a year ago, said one of his sons, Lumbaneny Sabalo, but decided to return home so that «if God called him, at least he would die beside the children and their mothers».
He was «a complete human being» who prized family and championed education, one speaker said during the service, held beneath sun-screening canopies on arid Giraul do Meio, known locally as Mungongo Island, near the southern port city of Namibe.
Tchikuteny was a Christian who belonged to the New Ecclesiastic Order of Angola, a relative said. He was buried in a nearby cemetery newly dedicated to his family.
That family includes 42 current wives; another seven had left the family earlier, relatives said.
Angola law prohibits polygamy, but it is widely practiced in the predominantly Christian country.
First wife Eva Domingos Bartolomeu told VOA that she hoped to keep the family united, according to Tchikuteny’s wishes. «I will do anything to keep his children fed and OK,» she said.
The extended family primarily relies on farming, raising sheep, goats and cows, plus crops of tomatoes, cabbage, onions, peppers and corn. They sell the surplus at market.