East Germany gave 20 trucks and 10,000 plastic bags. China donated two photocopy machines, the Soviet Union 200 automobiles and India 8,000 pencils. Egypt sent towels and sheets, and Yugoslavia two garbage trucks and an ambulance.
Thus, with quite a bit of help from its friends, and even some mere acquaintances, Angola has managed to house and entertain high-level delegations from more than 100 nations attending this week's Nonaligned Movement ministerial meeting here.
Luanda's maiden foray into the world of international entertaining is matched by an unprecedented openness to the international media. More than 150 reporters are estimated to have been granted visas to cover the event, many of them from the western media long held in low esteem by a Marxist Angolan government suspicious of their motives and perspectives.
So far, there has been only one visible and embarrassing hitch. Yesterday, a journalist from Agence France-Presse was expelled from the country after reporting that Luanda was blanketed by highly visible security, including tanks stationed at strategic downtown points.
His report apparently was based on a late-night drive from the airport during which he spotted two immobile tanks left in the city's main square as a monument to the war of liberation from Portugal. In fact, visible security here has been remarkably light.
The government clearly feels the effort at openness is worth the risk. Burdened by 10 years of war since independence, and beholden to the Soviet Union and Cuba both by ideology and military necessity, the Communist Party leadership of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos appears to have embarked on a halting effort to broaden its international associations.
Holding an international conference is somewhat akin to being the father of the bride. The host knows his guests will judge his status and character by the kind of spread he lays out.
When it was decided last year that Angola would be the site of this meeting, some nonaligned governments groaned. One Asian delegate said his foreign minister was afraid of drinking the water and sent a lower level colleague in his place.
Yet as they drifted into Luanda during the past week, the visitors seemed relatively pleased with what they found. The Cuban state construction company had turned an old theater into an elegant conference center, complete with air conditioning and espresso coffee machine. Yugoslav workers had rushed so close to the deadline to put the finishing touches on an Olympic Village-style housing complex for journalists that the decorative outside foliage had not even had time to take root.
Bottled water has been flown in from Portugal, and a massive effort -- the product of much public exhortation by the government -- has even cleaned up most of the garbage that lay knee-deep beside some of Luanda's streets.
Estimates, most of them unofficial, on the cost of the preparations range from $24 million to hundreds of millions of dollars.
The high cost of such a gathering has changed the mind of many a Third World country eager for the prestige of hosting it. Similar qualms reportedly are plaguing the government of Zimbabwe, currently the favorite to win the three-year chairmanship of the movement that will be decided at this meeting.
The battle over the chairmanship is the only real issue that seems to have captured the attention of the delegates at the conference. In addition to hosting the costly meeting of heads of state next year, the nation heading the movement has enormous power during its term in office to set the nonaligned agenda.
Outside the formal meetings here, lobbying over the chairmanship has been hot and heavy. Now that North Korea has withdrawn its candidacy and Syria, another early candidate, has remained silent, Libya is the only formally declared aspirant. With few friends within the movement, Libya's bid is viewed as a nonstarter, and the behind-the-scenes battle is between Yugoslavia and Zimbabwe.
One of the Nonaligned Movement's founding members, Yugoslavia has been at the forefront of a years-long battle to keep the movement independent from the dominance of Cuba, which it and others view as hopelessly aligned with the Soviet Union. Working against Yugoslavia's informal candidacy, however, is the fact that it once before hosted the summit. Many delegations also think southern Africa is a more appropriate place for next year's gathering.
To the extent that opposition to Zimbabwe exists, it appears to be based on the fact that Cuba and other Soviet allies, including Angola, have pushed openly for a Harare summit at Yugoslavia's expense. Zimbabwe is willing to host the summit but reportedly is concerned about the expense, among other things.
"They want somebody else to propose it in hopes that the others will then agree to make donations," said one journalist.