JAMES B. KEITH
The decision to immigrate to the United States from Angola was an easy one for Domevlo Lukamba's parents. Angola, a south-central African nation, was impoverished and had experienced an intense civil war since 1975, when the country — which had been a Portuguese territory — gained its independence. The war raged until 2002 and had taken its toll on the social and civic fabric of the fledgling nation. At the time the Lukambas emigrated, the United Nations estimated that 80 percent of Angolans had no access to medical care and more than 1 million people needed assistance to avoid starvation. Survival was the motivating factor that drove the Lukambas to the United States with their 16-year-old son.
The family settled in Chicago and opened a beauty salon. They were hardworking people who took advantage of the opportunities available to them in a country where only the limitations people imposed on themselves could hold them back. The Lukambas' business was successful and they were able to move into a home in a middle-class neighborhood in the suburbs.
In his mid-twenties, Domevlo was tall, good looking and well spoken. He had finished high school in Chicago but had a difficult time adjusting to the disparity between what had been a life of fear in Angola to one of peace, tranquility, freedom and prosperity in the States. He was in another world, but he still carried remnants of the dread he felt before he moved — it was like waiting for the ...