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Angola - Acknowledgments

The authors wish to acknowledge the contributions of the following individuals, who wrote the 1979 edition of Angola: A Country Study, edited by Irving Kaplan: H. Mark Roth, "Historical Setting"; Irving Kaplan, "The Society and Its Physical Setting"; Margarita Dobert, "Government and Politics"; Eugene K. Keefe, "National Security"; and Donald P. Whitaker, "The Economy." Their work provided the organization and structure of the present volume, as well as substantial portions of the text.

The authors are grateful to individuals in various government agencies and private institutions who gave their time, research materials, and expertise to the production of this book. The authors also wish to thank members of the Federal Research Division staff who contributed directly to the production of the manuscript. These people include Richard F. Nyrop, who reviewed all drafts and served as liaison with the sponsoring agency, and Marilyn L. Majeska, who managed book production. Vincent Ercolano and Sharon Schultz edited the chapters, and Beverly Wolpert performed the final prepublication review. Also involved in preparing the text were editorial assistants Barbara Edgerton and Izella Watson. Shirley Kessel compiled the index. Linda Peterson of the Library of Congress Composing Unit set the type, under the direction of Peggy Pixley.

Angola - Preface

Like its predecesor, this study is an attempt to treat in a concise and objective manner the dominant social, political, economic, and military aspects of Angolan society. Sources of information included scholarly journals and monographs, official reports of governments and international organizations, foreign and domestic newspapers, and numerous periodicals. Up-to-date data from Angolan sources for the most part were unavailable. Chapter bibliographies appear at the end of the book; brief comments on some of the more valuable sources suggested as possible further reading appear at the end of each chapter.

Place-names follow a modified version of the system adopted by the United States Board on Geographic Names and the Permanent Committee on Geographic Names for British Official Use, known as the BGN/PCGN system. The modification is a significant one, however, in that diacritical markings and hyphens have been omitted.

Terminology and spelling sometimes presented problems. For example, after independence Angola's ruling party was known as the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola -- MPLA). In 1977, however, in asserting its commitment to the principles of Marxism-Leninism, the MPLA added to its nomenclature "Partido de Trabalho." The term is translated in this book as "Workers' Party" but is elsewhere often seen as "Labor Party." Furthermore, because the spelling of the names of ethnic groups occasionally varies, in some cases alternate spellings are given in parentheses. Finally, many Angolan officials who fought in the liberation struggle against the Portuguese acquired noms de guerre; these officials are often referred to in press accounts by their nicknames. When such officials are cited in the text, their noms de guerre are given in parentheses after their surnames.

Angola - History

IN NOVEMBER 1975, after nearly five centuries as a Portuguese colony, Angola became an independent state. By late 1988, however, despite fertile land, large deposits of oil and gas, and great mineral wealth, Angola had achieved neither prosperity nor peace-- the national economy was stagnating and warfare was ravaging the countryside. True independence also remained unrealized as foreign powers continued to determine Angola's future.

But unattained potential and instability were hardships well known to the Angolan people. They had suffered the outrage of slavery and the indignity of forced labor and had experienced years of turmoil going back to the early days of the indigenous kingdoms.

The ancestors of most present-day Angolans found their way to the region long before the first Portuguese arrived in the late fifteenth century. The development of indigenous states, such as the Kongo Kingdom, was well under way before then. The primary objective of the first Portuguese settlers in Angola, and the motive behind most of their explorations, was the establishment of a slave trade. Although several early Portuguese explorers recognized the economic and strategic advantages of establishing friendly relations with the leaders of the kingdoms in the Angolan interior, by the middle of the sixteenth century the slave trade had engendered an enmity between the Portuguese and the Africans that persisted until independence.

Most of the Portuguese who settled in Angola through the nineteenth century were exiled criminals, called degredados, who were actively involved in the slave trade and spread disorder and corruption throughout the colony. Because of the unscrupulous behavior of the degredados, most Angolan Africans soon came to despise and distrust their Portuguese colonizers. Those Portuguese who settled in Angola in the early twentieth century were peasants who had fled the poverty of their homeland and who tended to establish themselves in Angolan towns in search of a means of livelihood other than agriculture. In the process, they squeezed out the mestiços (people of mixed African and white descent) and urban Africans who had hitherto played a part in the urban economy. In general, these later settlers lacked capital, education, and commitment to their new homelands.

When in the early 1930s António Salazar established the New State (Estado Novo) in Portugal, Angola was expected to survive on its own. Accordingly, Portugal neither maintained an adequate social and economic infrastructure nor invested directly in longterm development.

Ideologically, Portugal maintained that increasing the density of white rural settlement in Angola was a means of "civilizing" the African. Generally, the Portuguese regarded Africans as inferior and gave them few opportunities to develop either in terms of their own cultures or in response to the market. The Portuguese also discriminated politically, socially, and economically against assimilados --those Africans who, by acquiring a certain level of education and a mode of life similar to that of Europeans, were entitled to become citizens of Portugal. Those few Portuguese officials and others who called attention to the mistreatment of Africans were largely ignored or silenced by the colonial governments.

By the 1950s, African-led or mestiço-led associations with explicit political goals began to spring up in Angola. The authoritarian Salazar regime forced these movements and their leaders to operate in exile. By the early 1960s, however, political groups were sufficiently organized (if also divided by ethnic loyalties and personal animosities) to begin their drives for independence. Moreover, at least some segments of the African population had been so strongly affected by the loss of land, forced labor, and stresses produced by a declining economy that they were ready to rebel on their own. The result was a series of violent events in urban and rural areas that marked the beginning of a long and often ineffective armed struggle for independence.

To continue its political and economic control over the colony, Portugal was prepared to use whatever military means were necessary. In 1974 the Portuguese army, tired of warfare not only in Angola but in Portugal's other African colonies, overthrew the Lisbon regime. The new regime left Angola to its own devices--in effect, abandoning it to the three major anticolonial movements.

Ideological differences and rivalry among their leaderships divided these movements. Immediately following independence in 1975, civil war erupted between the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola -- MPLA) on the one hand and the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (Frente Nacional de Libertação de Angola -- FNLA) and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola -- UNITA) on the other hand. The MPLA received support from the Soviet Union and Cuba, while the FNLA turned to the United States. UNITA, unable to gain more than nominal support from China, turned to South Africa. Viewing the prospect of a Soviet-sponsored MPLA government with alarm, South Africa invaded Angola. The Soviet and Cuban reaction was swift: the former provided the logistical support, and the latter provided troops. By the end of 1976, the MPLA, under the leadership of Agostinho Neto, was in firm control of the government. Members of UNITA retreated to the bush to wage a guerrilla war against the MPLA government, while the FNLA became increasingly ineffective in the north in the late 1970s.

The MPLA, which in 1977 had declared itself a Marxist-Leninist vanguard party, faced the task of restoring the agricultural and production sectors that nearly had been destroyed with the departure of the Portuguese. Recognizing that traditional MarxistLeninist policies of large-scale expropriation and state ownership would undermine redevelopment efforts, Neto permitted private involvement in commercial and small-scale industry and developed substantial economic relations with Western states, especially in connection with Angola's oil industry.

After Neto's death in 1979, José Eduardo dos Santos inherited considerable economic difficulties, including the enormous military costs required to fight UNITA and South African forces. By the end of 1985, the security of the Luanda regime depended almost entirely on Soviet-supplied weaponry and Cuban troop support. Consequently, in the late 1980s Luanda's two main priorities were to end the UNITA insurgency and to make progress toward economic development. By late 1988, a United States-sponsored peace agreement held out some hope that, given time, both priorities could be achieved.


Although the precolonial history of many parts of Africa has been carefully researched and preserved, there is relatively little information on the region that forms contemporary Angola as it was before the arrival of the Europeans in the late 1400s. The colonizers of Angola, the Portuguese, did not study the area as thoroughly as British, French, and German scholars researched their colonial empires. The Portuguese, in fact, were more concerned with recording the past of their own people in Angola than with the history of the indigenous populations.

The limited information that is available indicates that the original inhabitants of present-day Angola were hunters and gatherers. Their descendants, called Bushmen by the Europeans, still inhabit portions of southern Africa, and small numbers of them may still be found in southern Angola. These Khoisan speakers lost their predominance in southern Africa as a result of the southward expansion of Bantu-speaking peoples during the first millennium A.D.

The Bantu speakers were a Negroid people, adept at farming, hunting, and gathering, who probably began their migrations from the rain forest near what is now the Nigeria-Cameroon border. Bantu expansion was carried out by small groups that made a series of short relocations over time in response to economic or political conditions. Some historians believe that the Khoisan speakers were peacefully assimilated rather than conquered by the Bantu. Others contend that the Khoisan, because of their passive nature, simply vacated the area and moved south, away from the newcomers.

In either case, the Bantu settled in Angola between 1300 and 1600, and some may have arrived even earlier. The Bantu formed a number of historically important kingdoms. The earliest and perhaps most important of these was the Kongo Kingdom, which arose between the mid-1300s and the mid-1400s in an area overlapping the presentday border between Angola and Zaire. Other important kingdoms were Ndongo, located to the south of Kongo; Matamba, Kasanje, and Lunda, located east of Ndongo; Bié, Bailundu, and Ciyaka, located on the plateau east of Benguela; and Kwanhama (also spelled Kwanyama), located near what is now the border between Angola and Namibia. Although they did not develop a strong central government, the Chokwe (also spelled Cokwe) established a significant cultural center in the northeast of present-day Angola.

The precolonial kingdoms differed in area and the number of subjects who owed allegiance, however nominal, to a central authority. The kings might not directly control more land or people than a local ruler, but they were generally acknowledged as paramount. Kings were offered tribute and were believed to possess substantial religious power and authority. A king's actual secular power, however, was determined as much by his own personal abilities as by institutional arrangements.

The African kingdoms tended to extend their lines of communication inland, away from the Atlantic Ocean. Until the arrival of the Europeans, Africans regarded the sea as a barrier to trade. Although the sea might supply salt or shells that could be used as currency, the interior held the promise of better hunting, farming, mining, and trade.

Angola - Kongo Kingdom

In the middle of the fifteenth century, the Kongo Kingdom was the most powerful of a series of states along Africa's west coast known as the Middle Atlantic kingdoms. Kongo evolved in the late fourteenth century when a group of Bakongo (Kongo people) moved south of the Congo River into northern Angola, conquering the people they found there and establishing Mbanza Kongo (now spelled Mbanza Congo), the capital of the kingdom. One of the reasons for the success of the Bakongo was their willingness to assimilate the inhabitants they conquered rather than to try to become their overlords. The people of the area thus gradually became one and were ruled by leaders with both religious and political authority.

By the middle of the fifteenth century, the manikongo (Kongo king) ruled the lands of northern Angola and the north bank of the Congo River (present-day Congo and Zaire). Kongo was the first kingdom on the west coast of central Africa to come into contact with Europeans. The earliest such contact occurred in 1483 when the Portuguese explorer Diogo C o, reached the mouth of the Congo River. After the initial landing, Portugal and Kongo exchanged emissaries, so that each kingdom was able to acquire knowledge of the other. Impressed by reports from his returning subjects, Nzinga Nkuwu, the manikongo, asked the Portuguese crown for missionaries and technical assistance in exchange for ivory and other goods.

The ruler who came to power in 1506 took a Christian name, Afonso. He too admired European culture and science, and he called on Portugal for support in education, military matters, and the conversion of his subjects to Christianity. Many historians, in fact, maintain that Afonso behaved more like a "Christian" than most of his teachers. Afonso, therefore, soon came into conflict with Portuguese bent on exploiting Kongo society. The most insidious and lasting aspect of this exploitation was the slave trade.

Not long after Afonso became king, Portugal began to turn its attention to the exploration of Asia and the Americas. As Portugal's interest in another of its colonies, Brazil, increased, its interest in Africa declined. Over time, the Portuguese crown came to view Kongo primarily as a source of slaves. Slaves were used first on the sugar plantations on nearby Portuguese-claimed islands but later were sent mainly to Brazil. Once Kongo was opened to the slave trade, halting or limiting it became impossible. Afonso's complaints to the Portuguese crown about the effects of the trade in his lands were largely ignored. By the 1520s, most of the missionaries had returned to Portugal, and most of the remaining whites were slave traders who disregarded the authority of the manikongo's.

In addition to the slave trade, Kongo faced other challenges in the sixteenth century. After the death of Afonso in the 1540s, the kingdom endured a period of instability that culminated in an upheaval in 1568. This rebellion was long attributed by Portuguese sources and others to the invasion by a group of unknown origin called the Jaga. Others, however, believed that the attack was probably launched by a Bakongo faction opposed to the king that may have been joined or aided by non-Bakongo seeking to gain control over the Kongo slave trade and other trading routes. In any case, the assault on the capital (which had been renamed São Salvador) and its environs drove the king, Alvaro I, into exile. The Portuguese governor of São Tomé, responding to pleas from Alvaro I, fought the invaders from 1571 through 1573, finally ousting them and occupying the area until the mid-1570s.

A few years earlier, Sebastião, the Portuguese king, had granted the area south of the Bakongo as a proprietary colony to Paulo Dias de Novais, an associate of Portuguese Jesuits and an experienced explorer of the West African coast. In 1576, in effective control of the countryside and facing no organized Kongo opposition, the Portuguese founded the town of Luanda, in effect establishing the colony of Angola. Other African leaders, however, continued to resist the Portuguese, and the Europeans only managed to establish insecure footholds along the coast. Concerned that African attacks might impede the stream of slaves to Brazil and Portugal, in 1590 the crown assumed direct control of the colony.

Alvaro I and his successor, Alvaro II, brought stability to the Kongo Kingdom by expanding the domain of their royal authority while keeping at bay encroachment by the Portuguese, whose colony during the late years of the sixteenth century remained confined to the area south of Kongo. But after the death of Alvaro II in 1614, conflicts over access to cultivable land between Kongo and the Portuguese colony of Angola soured formerly amicable relations, and in 1622 the Portuguese governor of Angola launched an attack on Kongo. Although not entirely successful from the Portuguese point of view, the war had a number of lasting effects. First, the colony captured a large number of slaves, which demonstrated how rewarding slave raiding could be. Second, the Portuguese came out of the war convinced of the existence of silver and gold mines in Kongo, a belief that encouraged a series of conflicts between the colonists and the Kongo Kingdom for the next half century. The war also created a xenophobia among the Bakongo of the interior, who drove away many Portuguese. Because the trading system depended largely on the Bakongo, commerce was greatly disrupted, with effects on the Angolan colony as great as those on the Kongo Kingdom.

Adding to Kongo's troubles in the early 1600s was a general dissatisfaction among the Bakongo with their rulers, some of whom were greedy and corrupt. Consequently, conflicts arose over succession to the throne, and more and more sections of the kingdom gained substantial degrees of autonomy and established local control over the trade that had so enriched the monarchy in earlier years.

Angola - Ndongo Kingdom

Shortly after Cão made his initial contact with the Kongo Kingdom of northern Angola in 1483, he established links farther south with Ndongo--an African state less advanced than Kongo that was made up of Kimbundu-speaking people. Their ruler, who was tributary to the manikongo, was called the ngola a kiluanje. It was the first part of the title, its pronunciation changed to "Angola," by which the Portuguese referred to the entire area.

Throughout most of the sixteenth century, Portugal's relations with Ndongo were overshadowed by its dealings with Kongo. Some historians, citing the disruptions the Portuguese caused in Kongo society, believe that Ndongo benefited from the lack of Portuguese interest. It was not until after the founding of Luanda in 1576 that Portugal's exploration into the area of present-day Angola rivaled its trade and commerce in Kongo. Furthermore, it was only in the early seventeenth century that the importance of the colony Portugal established came to exceed that of Kongo.

Although officially ignored by Lisbon, the Angolan colony was the center of disputes, usually concerning the slave trade, between local Portuguese traders and the Mbundu people, who inhabited Ndongo. But by mid-century, the favorable attention the ngola received from Portuguese trade or missionary groups angered the manikongo, who in 1556 sent an army against the Ndongo Kingdom. The forces of the ngola defeated the Kongo army, encouraging him to declare his independence from Kongo and appeal to Portugal for military support. In 1560 Lisbon responded by sending an expedition to Angola, but in the interim the ngola who had requested Portuguese support had died, and his successor took captive four members of the expedition. After the hostage taking, Lisbon routinely employed military force in dealing with the Ndongo Kingdom. This resulted in a major eastward migration of Mbundu people and the subsequent establishment of other kingdoms.

Following the founding of Luanda, Paulo Dias carried out a series of bloody military campaigns that contributed to Ndongo resentment of Europeans. Dias founded several forts east of Luanda, but--indicative of Portugal's declining status as a world power--he was unable to gain firm control of the land around them. Dias died in 1579 without having conquered the Ndongo Kingdom.

Dias's successors made slow progress up the Cuanza River, meeting constant African resistance. By 1604 they reached Cambambe, where they learned that the presumed silver mines did not exist. The failure of the Portuguese to find mineral wealth changed their outlook on the Angolan colony. Slave taking, which had been incidental to the quest for the mines, then became the major economic motivation for expansion and extension of Portuguese authority. In search of slaves, the Portuguese pushed farther into Ndongo country, establishing a fort a short distance from Massangano, itself about 175 kilometers east of Angola's Atlantic coast. The consequent fighting with the Ndongo generated a stream of slaves who were shipped to the coast. Following a period of Ndongo diplomatic initiatives toward Lisbon in the 1620s, relations degenerated into a state of war.

Angola - The Defeat of Kongo and Ndongo

The Portuguese imposed a peace treaty on the Bakongo. Its conditions, however, were so harsh that peace was never really achieved, and hostilities grew during the 1660s. The Portuguese victory over the Bakongo at the Battle of Mbwila (also spelled Ambuila) on October 29, 1665, marked the end of the Kongo Kingdom as a unified power. By the eighteenth century, Kongo had been transformed from a unitary state into a number of smaller entities that recognized the king but for all practical purposes were independent. Fragmented though they were, these Kongo states still resisted Portuguese encroachments. Although they were never again as significant as during Angola's early days, the Bakongo played an important role in the nationalist and independence struggles of the twentieth century.

The Ndongo Kingdom suffered a fate similar to that of Kongo. Before the Dutch captured Luanda in 1641, the Portuguese attempted to control Ndongo by supporting a pliant king, and during the Dutch occupation, Ndongo remained loyal to Portugal. But after the retaking of Luanda in 1648, the ngola judged that the Portuguese had not sufficiently rewarded the kingdom for its allegiance. Consequently, he reasserted Ndongo independence, an act that angered the colonists. In 1671 Ndongo intransigence prompted a Portuguese attack and siege on the capital of Pungu-a-Ndondong (present-day Pungo Andongo). The attackers killed the ngola, enslaved many of his followers, and built a fort on the site of the capital. Thus, the Ndongo Kingdom, which had enjoyed only semi-independent status, now surrendered entirely to Portugal.

Angola - Matamba and Kasanje Kingdoms

As Portugal became preoccupied with the Ndongo Kingdom as a source of slaves, two inland Mbundu states--Matamba and Kasanje-- prospered. Little is known of Matamba before the seventeenth century, but in 1621 Nzinga (called Jinga by the Portuguese), the sister of the ngola a kiluanje, convinced the Portuguese to recognize Ndongo as an independent monarchy and to help the kingdom expel the Imbangala people from its territory. Three years later, according to some sources, Nzinga poisoned her brother and succeeded him as monarch. Unable to negotiate successfully with a series of Portuguese governors, however, she was eventually removed. Nzinga and many of her followers traveled east and forged alliances with several groups. She finally ascended to the throne of the Matamba Kingdom. From this eastern state, she pursued good relations with the Dutch during their occupation of the area from 1641 to 1648 and attempted to reconquer Ndongo. After the Dutch expulsion, Nzinga again allied with the Portuguese. A dynamic and wily ruler, Nzinga dominated Mbundu politics until she died in 1663. Although she dealt with the Europeans, in modern times Nzinga has been remembered by nationalists as an Angolan leader who never accepted Portuguese sovereignty.

After Nzinga's death, a succession struggle ensued, and the new ruler tried to reduce Portuguese influence. Following their practice with the Ndongo, the Portuguese forced him out and placed their own candidate, Kanini, on the throne. Kanini coveted the nearby kingdom of Kasanje--peopled by Mbundu but ruled by Imbangala--for its role in the slave trade. Once he had consolidated power, in 1680 Kanini successfully moved against Kasanje, which was undergoing a succession crisis of its own. Kanini's defeat of the Kasanje state made his Portuguese benefactors realize that as his empire expanded, Kanini was increasingly threatening their own slaving interests. Subsequently, Kanini defeated a Portuguese military expedition sent against him, although he died soon after. In 1683 Portugal negotiated with the new Matamba queen to halt further attempts to conquer Kasanje territory and, because of mounting competition from other European powers, convinced her to trade exclusively with Portugal.

Angola - Lunda and Chokwe Kingdoms

The Lunda Kingdom lay east, beyond Matamba and Kasanje. It developed in the seventeenth century, and its center was in present-day Zaire's western Shaba Province (formerly Katanga Province). The Lunda Kingdom expanded by absorbing the chiefs of neighboring groups in the empire, rather than by deposing them. The Lunda consolidated their state by adopting an orderly system of succession and by gaining control of the trade caravans that passed through their kingdom.

The Portuguese hoped to deal directly with the Lunda for slaves and thus bypass the representatives of the Matamba and Kasanje, who acted as intermediaries. Apparently entertaining similar ideas, the Lunda attacked Matamba and Kasanje in the 1760s. The Lunda, however, proved no more successful than the Portuguese at totally subduing these Mbundu kingdoms.

The Chokwe, who, according to oral accounts, migrated from either central Africa or the Upper Kasai region in present-day Zaire, established themselves as trading intermediaries in eastern Angola in the middle of the nineteenth century. With guns that they obtained from the Ovimbundu, they attacked and destroyed the Lunda Kingdom in 1900. The Chokwe rapidly expanded their influence in the northeast and east, replacing the Lunda culture with their own language and customs.

Angola - Ovimbundu and Kwanhama Kingdoms

Between 1500 and 1700, the Ovimbundu peoples migrated from the north and east of Angola to the Benguela Plateau. They did not, however, consolidate their kingdoms, nor did their kings assert their sovereignty over the plateau until the eighteenth century, when some twenty-two kingdoms emerged. Thirteen of the kingdoms, including Bié, Bailundu, and Ciyaka, emerged as powerful entities, and the Ovimbundu acquired a reputation as the most successful traders of the Angolan interior. After the Portuguese conquered most of the Ovimbundu states in the late nineteenth century, the Portuguese colonial authorities directly or indirectly appointed Ovimbundu kings.

The Kwanhama, belonging to the Bantu-speaking group, established a kingdom early in the nineteenth century in the vicinity of the border with present-day Namibia. Kwanhama kings welcomed trade with Europeans, especially with Portuguese and German gun dealers. Feared even by the Portuguese, the well-armed Kwanhama developed a reputation as fierce warriors. Their kingdom survived until 1915, when a large Portuguese army invaded and defeated then.

Angola - The Dutch Interregnum, 1641-48

During the first half of the 1600s, when Portugal became involved in a succession of European religious and dynastic wars at the insistence of its ally, Spain, the Portuguese colonies were subjected to attacks by Spain's enemies. Holland, one of Spain's most potent enemies, raided and harassed the Portuguese territories in Angola. The Dutch also began pursuing alliances with Africans, including the king of Kongo and Nzinga of Matamba, who, angered by their treatment at the hands of the Portuguese, welcomed the opportunity to deal with another European power.

When it rebelled against Spain in 1640, Portugal hoped to establish good relations with the Dutch. Instead, the Dutch saw an opportunity to expand their own colonial holdings and in 1641 captured Luanda and Benguela, forcing the Portuguese governor to flee with his fellow refugees inland to Massangano. The Portuguese were unable to dislodge the Dutch from their coastal beachhead. As the Dutch occupation cut off the supply of slaves to Brazil, that colony's economy suffered. In response, Brazilian colonists raised money and organized forces to launch an expedition aimed at unseating the Dutch from Angola. In May 1648, the Dutch garrison in Luanda surrendered to the Brazilian detachment, and the Dutch eventually relinquished their other Angolan conquests. According to some historians, after the retaking of Luanda, Angola became a de facto colony of Brazil, so driven was the South American colony's sugar-growing economy by its need for slaves.


Slave Trading in the 1700s

Slave trading dominated the Portuguese economy in eighteenthcentury Angola. Slaves were obtained by agents, called pombeiros, who roamed the interior, generally following established routes along rivers. They bought slaves, called peças (pieces), from local chiefs in exchange for commodities such as cloth and wine. The pombeiros returned to Luanda or Benguela with chain gangs of several hundred captives, most of whom were malnourished and in poor condition from the arduous trip on foot. On the coast, they were better fed and readied for their sea crossing. Before embarking, they were baptized en masse by Roman Catholic priests. The Atlantic crossing in the overcrowded, unsanitary vessels lasted from five weeks to two months. Many captives died en route.

During the sixteenth century and most of the seventeenth century, Luanda had been the main slave port of the Portuguese, but toward the end of the 1600s they turned their attention to Benguela. Although the first efforts at inland expansion from Benguela failed, the Portuguese eventually penetrated the Ovimbundu kingdoms and subjected their people to the same treatment that had earlier befallen the Mbundu. By the end of the eighteenth century, Benguela rivaled Luanda as a slave port.

According to historian C.R. Boxer, African slaves were more valued in the Americas than were American Indian slaves because Africans tended to adjust more easily to slavery and because they were less vulnerable to the diseases of the white man. Boxer also suggests that Jesuits in the New World opposed the notion of using Indians as slaves, whereas they were less resistant to the use of Africans as slaves. Many of these African slaves were sent to Spanish colonies, where they brought a higher price than they would have if sold in Brazil.

From the late sixteenth century until 1836, when Portugal abolished slave trafficking, Angola may have been the source of as many as 2 million slaves for the New World. More than half of these went to Brazil, nearly a third to the Caribbean, and from 10 to 15 percent to the Río de la Plata area on the southeastern coast of South America. Considering the number of slaves that actually arrived, and taking into account those who died crossing the Atlantic or during transport from the interior to the coast for shipping, the Angola area may have lost as many as 4 million people as a result of the slave trade.

By the end of the eighteenth century, it became clear that Lisbon's dream of establishing a trading monopoly in its colonies had not been achieved. Competition from foreign powers contributed significantly to Portugal's inability to control the slave trade, either in Angola's interior or on the coast. In 1784, for example, the French expelled a garrison that the Portuguese had established a year earlier in Cabinda. Portugal was also concerned about the northward expansion of Dutch settlers from the Cape of Good Hope area. Moreover, at this time the British, Dutch, and Brazilians, not the Portuguese, were contributing most of the capital and vessels used in the slave trade. Furthermore, many of the European goods arriving at Angolan ports were coming from nations other than Portugal.

Angola - Portuguese Settlers in Angola

The Portuguese authorities and settlers in Angola formed a motley group. The inhabitants resented the governors, whom they regarded as outsiders. Indeed, these officials were less concerned with the welfare of the colony than with the profit they could realize from the slave trade. But governing the small colony was difficult because any central administrative authority had to deal with a group of settlers prone to rebellion. Because Brazil was the jewel of Portugal's overseas territories, Portuguese who immigrated to Angola were frequently deserters, degredados, peasants, and others who had been unable to succeed in Portugal or elsewhere in the Portuguese-speaking world.

Owing principally to the African colony's unsavory reputation in Portugal and the high regard in which Brazil was held, there was little emigration to Angola in the 1600s and 1700s. Thus, the white population of Angola in 1777 was less than 1,600. Of this number, very few whites were females; one account states that in 1846 the ratio of Portuguese men to Portuguese women in the colony was eleven to one. A product of this gender imbalance was miscegenation; for example, the mestiço population in 1777 was estimated at a little more than 4,000.

Besides exporting them, Europeans in Angola kept slaves as porters, soldiers, agricultural laborers, and as workers at jobs that the Portuguese increasingly considered too menial to do themselves. At no time, however, was domestic slavery more important to the local economy than the exporting of slaves.


The Early Nineteenth Century

The nineteenth century ushered in a period of crisis for Portugal. The invasion by Napoleon's armies in 1807 forced the Portuguese court into exile in Brazil. In 1820 the regency was overthrown, and a conflict began between constitutionalists and monarchists that did not end until 1834. Many of these changes were echoed in Angola, where there were uprisings and an army mutiny that toppled the colony's governor.

The instability in Europe in the first three decades of the nineteenth century removed Portugal, Britain, France, and Holland from the Angolan slave market. But this turn of events allowed Angolan traders access to other markets. Unfettered trade with Brazilians, Cubans, and American southerners enabled the Portuguese slave dealers to enjoy a period of great prosperity, while the Angolan kingdoms suffered increased depopulation. After the constitutionalist triumph in Portugal in 1834, a provisional junta took charge in Luanda.

Angola - Abolition of the Slave Trade

In the early 1830s, the Portuguese government appointed a progressive prime minister, the Marquês de Sá da Bandeira, whose most important reform was the abolition of the slave trade in 1836. The decree, however, could not be enforced adequately, and it took Britain's Royal Navy to put an end to the activity in the middle of the nineteenth century.

In 1858 slavery was legally abolished in Angola. Government slaves had already been freed in 1854, but the 1858 proclamation declared that all slavery should cease by 1878. Legislation was passed to compensate owners and to care for the freed people. But many of the colonists found ways to circumvent the decree, so that the actual conditions of labor did not change significantly.

Angola - Expansion and the Berlin Conference

The abolition of the slave trade coincided with increased Portuguese expansion in Angola. Expansion began in 1838 with the conquest and establishment of a fort at Duque de Bragança (renamed Calandula), in an area east of Luanda. By mid-century the Portuguese had extended their formal control still farther east to the Kasanje market near the Cuango River. In 1840 the Portuguese founded the town of Moçâmedes (present-day Namibe) on the coast south of Benguela. The Portuguese also attempted to gain control of the coast from Luanda north to Cabinda through military occupation of the major ports. Because of British opposition, however, they were unable to complete this attempt and never gained control of the mouth of the Congo River.

The cost of military operations to secure economically strategic points led in 1856 to the imposition on Africans of a substantially increased hut tax, which for the first time had to be paid with currency or trade goods rather than with slaves. As a result, many Africans either refused to pay or fled from areas controlled by the Portuguese. By 1861, therefore, the Portuguese lacked the resources for continued military expansion or economic development, and most of the interior remained in the control of African traders and warriors.

From the late 1870s through the early 1890s, Portugal renewedexpansion into the interior. Part of the impetus came from the Lisbon Geographical Society, founded in 1875 by a group of industrialists, scholars, and colonial and military officials. This society stimulated a popular concern for the colonies in Portugal. In reaction to the activities of the society and the growing interest among Europeans in colonial adventure, the Portuguese government allotted large sums for public works in Africa and encouraged a minor revival of missionary work.

An advisory commission to Portugal's Ministry of the Navy and Colonies formed an expedition in the 1870s to link Angola on the Atlantic coast with Mozambique on the Indian Ocean coast. The Portuguese government supported this expedition because it aspired to control a solid strip of territory across the central part of the continent. Nonetheless, Portugal was unable to gain control of the hinterland.

Aware of French and Belgian activities on the lower Congo River, in 1883 the Portuguese occupied Cabinda and Massabi north of the Congo River, towns that Portugal had long claimed. In the same year, Portugal annexed the region of the old Kongo Kingdom. Seeking to uphold these claims against French and Belgian advances in the Congo River Basin, Portugal negotiated a treaty with Britain in 1884; the other European powers, however, rejected it. Portugal's subsequent demands for an international conference on the Congo fell on deaf ears until German chancellor Otto von Bismarck seized on the idea as an opportunity to diminish French and British power.

At the Berlin Conference of 1884, the participants established in principle the limits of Portugal's claims to Angola, and in later years, treaties with the colonial powers that controlled the neighboring territories delineated Angola's boundaries. But because other, more powerful European states of the nineteenth century had explored central Africa, they, not Portugal, determined Angola's boundaries. The west coast territory Portugal acquired included the left bank of the Congo River and the Cabinda enclave, an acquisition whose value to the state was demonstrated in later years by the discovery there of oil. Britain, however, forced Portugal to withdraw from Nyasaland (present-day Malawi) and Rhodesia (present-day Zimbabwe and Zambia).

Portugal and Belgium concluded several agreements between 1891 and 1927, establishing a complex border generally following natural frontiers. Cabinda's boundaries with the French Congo and the Belgian Congo were delimited in 1886 and 1894, respectively, and by the end of the nineteenth century, Portugal had staked out most of its claims in Angola.

As far as Europe was concerned, Angola was in the Portuguese sphere of influence, and its status was not subject to further deliberations. Considering its diminished stature in relation to other European powers, Portugal had done well to hold onto as much territory as it had. But the fact that Angola was recognized as a Portuguese possession did not mean that it was under Portuguese control. The work of conquest took the better part of twenty-five years, and in some remote areas even longer.


The Demographic Situation

As the spheres of interest in the African interior became clarified, European nations turned to fulfilling the obligation imposed by the Berlin Conference of effectively occupying all territories claimed. For Portugal, meeting this obligation involved not only the conquest of the independent African kingdoms of the interior but also an attempt to settle Portuguese farmers.

Immigration in the late nineteenth century was discouraged by the same conditions that had deterred it earlier: a difficult climate and a lack of economic development. Although there were less than 10,000 whites in Angola in 1900 (most of whom were degredados), there was a substantial increase in white female immigration; the male-to-female ratio that year was a bit more than two to one. Concomitantly, there was a drop in the ratio of mestiços to whites; whereas mestiços had outnumbered whites in 1845 by more than three to one, in 1900 this ratio was reversed. Africans still constituted more than 99 percent of the population in 1900. Their numbers reportedly declined from an estimated 5.4 million in 1845 to about 4.8 million in 1900, although scholars dispute these figures. Whites were concentrated in the coastal cities of Luanda and Benguela. In addition to farming and fishing, Europeans engaged in merchant activities in the towns and trade in the bush. In the south, colonies of farmers who had settled earlier in the century had dwindled into small outposts, as many settlers returned to Luanda.

In the late nineteenth century, Africans controlled trade in the plateaus of the interior, despite Portuguese expansion. The Ovimbundu proved highly successful intermediaries on the southern trade route that ran from the Bié Plateau to Benguela. The Ovimbundu were more competitive than the sertanejos (people of the frontier, as Europeans and their representatives in the rural areas were called), who often had to pay tribute and fines to African chiefs through whose territory they traveled. By the mid1880s , the Ovimbundu by and large had replaced the sertanejos. The Chokwe and Imbangala also took advantage of their positions in the interior to extend their control over the region's trade. Nonetheless, by the late 1800s Portuguese encroachments and the imposition of European rule limited the political freedom of these Africans and diminished their prosperity.

Angola - Military Campaigns

After the Berlin Conference, the Portuguese military was preoccupied with the subjugation of the African inhabitants of the hinterland, and by 1915 it secured the colony for Portugal. Before African resistance was broken, intensive military action was necessary in several areas. One campaign took place in the southern region in response to a request from the Boer settlement near Humbe that was threatened by the Kwanhama. Sporadic campaigning included several serious reverses for the Portuguese. The Portuguese were able to bring the Kwanhama under control only with the assistance of field artillery and the establishment of a series of fortified garrisons. One of the most difficult Portuguese military campaigns was waged against the Dembos, a Kimbundu-speaking people who lived less than 150 kilometers northeast of Luanda. The Portuguese attacked the Dembos repeatedly over a period of three years before the Dembos were finally subdued in 1910. Because of difficult conditions, including the tropical climate, the Portuguese did not complete their occupation of Dembos land until 1917.

Angola - Administration and Development

Portuguese colonial policies toward civil administration were first formulated in Mozambique, where in the 1890s António Enés, former minister of colonies, advocated close control and full use of African labor, administrative reorganization, and colonization schemes. In 1899 Paiva Couceiro, who had been with Enés in Mozambique, published a volume in which he advocated white colonization, decentralization of administration from Lisbon, and the necessity of inculcating in the Africans the "habit of work." As governor general of Angola between 1907 and 1910, Couceiro prepared the basis of civil administration in the colony. Military officers were to oversee administrative divisions, and through them European civilization was to be brought to the Africans. Many of Couceiro's reforms were incorporated in legislation in 1914 that brought, at least in theory, financial and administrative autonomy to the colony.

There was considerable progress toward the development of an economic infrastructure during the first quarter of the twentieth century. New towns sprang up in the interior, and road construction advanced. The key to development, however, was the Benguela Railway, which would become Angola's largest employer and which linked the mines of the Belgian Congo's Katanga Province (in present-day Shaba Province in Zaire) to the Angolan port at Lobito.

In the 1920s, the Diamond Company of Angola (Companhia de Diamantes de Angola -- Diamang), an exclusive concessionaire in Angola until the 1960s, initiated diamond mining. As the employer of more Africans than any other industry, Diamang deeply affected the lives of its 18,000 African workers through extensive investment and the provision of social services.

The Portuguese, however, were generally unable to provide Angola with adequate development capital or with settlers. Trade had fallen off sharply when the rubber boom ended just before World War I, and the war itself produced only a brief revival of foreign trade. At the end of what is commonly referred to as Portugal's republican era (1910-26), the finances of the colony were in serious difficulty.


Angola under the New State

The right-wing Portuguese military coup of May 1926, which ended the republican era, led to the installation of a one-party regime in Portugal and the establishment of what came to be known as the New State. A young professor of economics, António Salazar, became minister of finance in 1928, and by 1930 he was one of the most prominent members of the government. He held the post of prime minister from 1932 until 1968, when he was incapacitated by a stroke. During his tenure in office, he left a lasting impression on events in Angola.

The most important changes introduced into Angola by the new regime were embodied in the Colonial Act of 1930. This act brought Angola's economy into line with economic policies that the new regime was implementing at home. But Portugal's application of strict financial controls over the colony also halted the drift toward political autonomy in Angola.

Portugal's policies toward Angola in the 1930s and 1940s were based on the principle of national integration. Economically, socially, and politically, Angola was to become an integral part of the Portuguese nation. In line with these policies, Portugal renamed African towns, usually after Portuguese heroes. Still later, in the early 1950s, Portugal withdrew the currency, known as the angolar, and replaced it with the Portuguese escudo.

Portugal integrated its economy with that of Angola by erecting protective trade tariffs and discouraging foreign investment capital, except in the construction of the Benguela Railway and in the exploitation of diamonds. In this way, Portugal sought to make Angola self-supporting and, at the same time, to turn it into a market for Portuguese goods. But despite a certain degree of success, Angola enjoyed no real prosperity until after World War II, when higher coffee prices brought enormous profits to Angolan producers. The consequent economic success of the coffee plantations, owned primarily by newly arrived Portuguese settlers attracted by the colony's increasing wealth, continued until independence in 1975, when the Portuguese exodus and civil war severely disrupted the Angolan economy.

Angola - Salazar's Racial Politics

Until 1940 Portuguese constituted less than 1 percent of Angola's population, and it was not until 1950 that their proportion approached 2 percent. This increase in the number of Europeans and the continuation of forced labor (not abolished until 1962) and other labor abuses led to an intensification of racial conflict. Before 1900 mestiços had been engaged in a variety of commercial and governmental roles, but as the white population came to outnumber them, the status of mestiços declined. In the first two decades of the twentieth century, laws and regulations requiring a certain level of education to hold some government positions effectively excluded mestiços from access to them. In 1921 the colonial administration divided the civil service into European and African branches and assigned mestiços and the very few African assimilados to the latter, thereby limiting their chances of rising in the bureaucratic hierarchy. In 1929 statutes limited the bureaucratic level to which mestiços and assimilados could rise to that of first clerk, established different pay scales for Europeans and non-Europeans in both public and private sectors, and restricted competition between them for jobs in the bureaucracy. Given this legal framework, the immigration of increasing numbers of Portuguese led to considerable disaffection among mestiços, who had hitherto tended to identify with whites rather than with Africans.

Beginning in the 1940s, the system of forced labor came under renewed criticism. One particularly outspoken critic, Captain Henrique Galvão, who had served for more than two decades in an official capacity in Angola, chronicled abuses committed against the African population. The Salazar government responded by arresting Galvão for treason and banning his report. Despite the introduction of some labor reforms from the late 1940s through the late 1950s, forced labor continued.

Legislation that was passed in Portugal between 1926 and 1933 was based on a new conception of Africans. Whereas Portugal previously had assumed that Africans would somehow naturally be assimilated into European society, the New State established definite standards Africans had to meet to qualify for rights. The new legislation defined Africans as a separate element in the population, referred to as indígenas. Those who learned to speak Portuguese, who took jobs in commerce or industry, and who behaved as Portuguese citizens were classified as assimilados. In accepting the rights of citizenship, assimilados took on the same tax obligations as the European citizens. Male indígenas were required to pay a head tax. If they could not raise the money, they were obligated to work for the government for half of each year without wages.

The colonial administration stringently applied the requirements for assimilation. In 1950, of an estimated African population of 4 million in Angola (according to an official census that probably provided more accurate figures than previous estimates), there were less than 31,000 assimilados. But instead of elevating the status of Africans, the policy of assimilation maintained them in a degraded status. The colonial administration required indígenas to carry identification cards, of major importance psychologically to the Africans and politically to the Portuguese, who were thus more easily able to control the African population.

The authoritarian Salazar regime frequently used African informants to ferret out signs of political dissidence. Censorship, border control, police action, and control of education all retarded the development of African leadership. Africans studying in Portugal--and therefore exposed to "progressive" ideas--were sometimes prevented from returning home. Political offenses brought severe penalties, and the colonial administration viewed African organizations with extreme disfavor.


In the 1940s and 1950s, African acquiescence to Portuguese colonization began to weaken, particularly in the provinces bordering the Belgian Congo and in Luanda, where far-reaching changes in world politics influenced a small number of Africans. The associations they formed and the aspirations they shared paved the way for the liberation movements of the 1960s.

The colonial system had created a dichotomy among the African population that corresponded to that of the Portuguese social structure--the elite versus the masses. Within the context of the burgeoning nationalist struggle, competition developed between the small, multiracial class of educated and semi-educated town inhabitants and the rural, uneducated black peasantry that formed the majority of Angola's population. At the same time, black Angolans identified strongly with their precolonial ethnic and regional origins. By the 1950s, the influence of class and ethnicity had resulted in three major sources of Angolan nationalism. The first, the Mbundu, who inhabited Luanda and the surrounding regions, had a predominantly urban, elite leadership, while the Bakongo and Ovimbundu peoples had rural, peasant orientations. The major nationalist movements that emerged from these three groups--the MPLA, the FNLA, and UNITA--each claimed to represent the entire Angolan population. Before long, these movements became bitter rivals as the personal ambitions of their leaders, in addition to differences in political ideology and competition for foreign aid, added to their ethnic differences.

Angola - Roots of Discontent

Portugal's assimilationist policy had produced a small group of educated Africans who considered themselves Portuguese. But as this group recognized that it was not fully respected by the Portuguese and as it became increasingly aware of its alienation from its traditional origins, some members began to articulate resentment, both of their own ambiguous social and cultural situations and of the plight of the nonassimilated majority of Africans. From among their ranks emerged most of the first generation of liberation movement leaders.

The influx of rural Africans to towns also bred anticolonial resentment. In the 1950s, the population of Luanda almost doubled, and most of the growth was among Africans. Lured by the expectation of work, Africans in towns became aware of the inequality of opportunities between Europeans and Africans. The compulsory labor system that many had experienced in rural areas was regarded as the most onerous aspect of Portuguese rule. More than any other factor, this system, which was not abolished until 1962, united many Africans in resentment of Portuguese rule.

The Salazar government's settlement policies contributed to the spread of anticolonial resentment, especially after 1945. These policies resulted in increased competition for employment and growing racial friction. Between 1955 and 1960, for example, the government brought from Portugal and the Cape Verde Islands more than 55,000 whites. Induced to emigrate by government promises of money and free houses, these peasants settled on colonatos (large agricultural communities). Many immigrants to the colonatos were unskilled at farming, often lacked an elementary education, or were too old for vigorous manual labor. Consequently, many of them were unsuccessful on the colonatos and, after a time, moved to towns where they competed with Africans, often successfully, for skilled and unskilled jobs. The Portuguese who held jobs of lower social status often felt it all the more necessary to claim social superiority over the Africans.

External events also played a role in the development of the independence movements. While most European powers were preparing to grant independence to their African colonies, the Salazar regime was seeking to reassert its grasp on its colonies, as witnessed by the effort it expended in the ill-fated colonatos system.

There were two basic patterns in the rise of nationalism in Angola. In one case, African assimilados and other urban Africans with some education joined urban mestiços and whites in associations based on the assumption that their interests were different from, and perhaps in competition with, those of the majority of the African population still attached to their rural communities. Angolans also formed organizations based on ethnic or religious groupings that encompassed or at least sought to include rural Africans, although the leaders of these organizations often had some education and urban experience.

Angola - African Associations

The beginnings of African associations, to which the liberation movement traced its roots, remained obscure in 1988. Luanda was known to have had recreational societies, burial clubs, and other mutual aid associations in the early 1900s. After the Portuguese republican constitution of 1911 increased freedoms of the press, opinion, and association in the African colonies, a number of African associations were formed, including the Lisbon-based African League in 1919. Sponsored and financed by the Portuguese government, partly in response to pressure from the League of Nations with which African League leaders had established contacts, the African League was a federation of all African associations from Portuguese Africa. Its avowed purpose was to point out to the Portuguese government injustices or harsh laws that ought to be repealed. In 1923 the African League organized the second session of the Third Pan-African Congress in Lisbon.

Assimilados (mestiço and African) dominated most associations, and their membership seldom included uneducated Africans. Because the associations were under close Portuguese control, their members were unable to express the full extent of their discontent with the colonial system. As a result, extralegal, politically oriented African associations began to appear in the 1950s. Far-reaching economic and social changes, the growth of the white settler population, increased urbanization of Africans, and the beginnings of nationalist movements in other parts of Africa contributed to the growth of anticolonial feeling. In 1952 some 500 Angolan Africans appealed to the United Nations (UN) in a petition protesting what they called the injustices of Portuguese policy and requesting that steps be taken to end Portuguese rule.

Angola - The Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola

The earliest anticolonialist political group in Angola, founded about 1953, was the Party of the United Struggle of Africans of Angola (Partido da Luta Unida dos Africanos de Angola -- PLUA). In December 1956, the PLUA combined with other organizations in Luanda to form the MPLA, whose aim was to achieve independence for Angola by means of a united front of all African interests. After many of its leaders were arrested in March 1959, the party moved its headquarters to Conakry, Guinea. The MPLA's first leader, Mário de Andrade, an educated mestiço and a poet, gave the party a reputation for representing primarily the interests of urban intellectuals rather than the indigenous masses.

The MPLA traces its Marxist-Leninist origins to its ties with the clandestine Portuguese Communist Party (Partido Comunista Português--PCP). The initial MPLA manifesto called for an end to colonialism and the building of a modern society free of prejudice, a goal that could be realized only after a lengthy period of political preparation followed by a revolutionary struggle. The MPLA leadership sought a definite direction and a set of objectives for the independence struggle, in contrast with the broad nationalist approach of its greatest rival for supremacy in the struggle, the FNLA. Thus, the MPLA's program, outlined in a policy document in the 1960s, avoided a stated commitment to socialism or Marxism-Leninism, but it clearly alluded to the movement's adherence to Marxist-Leninist principles and the Nonaligned Movement. The organization's leftist orientation attracted the support of the Soviet Union and China, both of which envisioned prospects for a foothold in Africa provided by a ruling MarxistLeninist vanguard party.

Angola - The National Front for the Liberation of Angola

The FNLA was founded in 1954 as the Union of Peoples of Northern Angola (União das Populações do Norte de Angola -- UPNA). Founded to advance the interests of the Bakongo rather than to promote independence, the UPNA petitioned the UN in 1957 for restoration of the Kongo Kingdom, an objective shared by the Alliance of Bakongo (Alliance des Bakongo--Abako) in the Belgian Congo. Because of important ties to the Bakongo in the Belgian colony and because of the difficulties of operating in Angola, the UPNA was based in Léopoldville (present-day Kinshasa, capital of Zaire). In 1958, acknowledging the futility of its quest, the UPNA adopted the title Union of Angolan Peoples (Unão das Populações de Angola -- UPA) and the aim of independence for all of Angola.

Angola - Organizational Weaknesses

The Angolan African organizations active before 1961 weredisorganized and lacked resources, membership, and strong leadership. There were a number of reasons for these weaknesses. First, their members were not prepared for either a political or a military struggle during the 1950s, however attractive they may have found nationalist ideals. Second, they were divided socially as well as ethnically. There were gulfs between the mestiços and the assimilados, on the one hand, and the indígenas, on the other hand, that frequently resulted in the pursuit of different goals. Third, although a substantial proportion of the white community also wanted Angola to break away from Portuguese domination, it hoped to perpetuate the colonial regime in every aspect except its control by Lisbon.

Finally, there was a critical lack of capable black leaders in the 1950s. The newly developing elite was not large enough to run a nationalist movement, and traditional leaders, focused on ethnic issues, were not prepared to lead such a movement. Church leaders, who might have been capable as national movement leaders, did not enter the struggle unless disaffected or until they became targets of police repression.

Angola - Beginning of Revolution

After 1959, as several African states won their independence, anticolonial sentiment intensified in Portugal's overseas territories. The Portuguese met this sentiment with stiffening opposition characterized by increasing surveillance and frequent arrests. In December 1959, the Portuguese secret political police, the International Police for the Defense of the State (Polícia Internacional de Defesa de Estado--PIDE), arrested fifty-seven persons in Luanda who were suspected of being involved in antigovernment political activities. Among those arrested were a few Europeans, assimilados, and other Africans. After this incident, the Portuguese military in Angola reinforced its position, particularly in the northwestern provinces, and became increasingly repressive.

In the first months of 1961, tensions came to a head. A group of alleged MPLA members attacked police stations and prisons in an attempt to free African political prisoners. Then, a group of disgruntled cotton workers in Malanje Province attacked government officials and buildings and a Catholic mission. In the wake of further sporadic violence, many wealthy Portuguese repatriated. They left behind them the poor whites who were unable to leave on short notice but who were ready to take the law into their own hands.

The violence spread to the northwest, where over the course of two days Bakongo (thought by some to have been UPA members) in Uíge Province attacked isolated farmsteads and towns in a series of forty coordinated raids, killing hundreds of Europeans. Also involved in the rural uprisings were non-Bakongo in parts of Cuanza Norte Province. During the next few months, violencespread northward toward the border with the former Belgian Congo as the Portuguese put pressure on the rebels. Although it had not begun that way, as time passed the composition of the rebel groups became almost exclusively Bakongo.

The Portuguese reacted to the uprising with violence. Settlers organized into vigilante committees, and reprisals for the rebellion went uncontrolled by civilian and military authorities. The whites' treatment of Africans was as brutal and as arbitrary as had been that of the Africans toward them. Fear pervaded the country, driving an even deeper wedge between the races.

The loss of Africans as a result of the 1961 uprisings has been estimated as high as 40,000, many of whom died from disease or because of famine; about 400 Europeans were killed, as well as many assimilados and Africans deemed sympathetic to colonial authorities. By summer the Portuguese had reduced the area controlled by the rebels to one-half its original extent, but major pockets of resistance remained. Portuguese forces, relying heavily on air power, attacked many villages. The result was the mass exodus of Africans toward what is now Zaire.

In an effort to head off future violence, in the early 1960s the Salazar regime initiated a program to develop Angola's economic infrastructure. The Portuguese government increased the paved road network by 500 percent, stimulated the development of domestic air routes, provided emergency aid to the coffee producers, and abolished compulsory cotton cultivation. To reestablish confidence among Africans and among those who had been subject to reprisals by white settlers, the military initiated a campaign under which it resettled African refugees into village compounds and provided them with medical, recreational, and some educational facilities.

The uprisings attracted worldwide attention. In mid-1961 the UN General Assembly appointed a subcommittee to investigate the situation in Angola, and it produced a report unfavorable to Portuguese rule. The events also helped mobilize the various liberation groups to renewed action.


The rebels who had coordinated the 1961 uprisings later began to undertake effective military organization. The several nationalist organizations set up training camps and attracted external military aid. In the summer of 1961, for example, the UPA, which had strong support among the Bakongo, formed the National Liberation Army of Angola (Exército de Libertação Nacional de Angola -- ELNA), a force of about 5,000 untrained and poorly armed troops. Subsequently, groups of Angolans went to Morocco and Tunisia to train with Algerian forces, then fighting for their own nation's independence. After winning its independence in 1962, Algeria supplied the ELNA with arms and ammunition.

In March 1962, the UPA joined with another small Kongo nationalist group, the Democratic Party of Angola (Partido Democrático de Angola -- PDA) to form the FNLA. The FNLA immediately proclaimed the Revolutionary Government of Angola in Exile (Govêrno Revolucionário de Angola no Exílo--GRAE). The president of the FNLA/GRAE, Holden Roberto, declared his organization to be the sole authority in charge of anti-Portuguese military operations inside Angola. Consequently, he repeatedly refused to merge his organization with any other budding nationalist movement, preferring to build the FNLA/GRAE into an all-Angolan mass movement over which he would preside.

By 1963, with training and arms from Algeria, bases in Zaire, and funds from the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the FNLA/GRAE military and political organization was becoming formidable. Still, it made no significant territorial gains.

Meanwhile, the MPLA, which had been behind the initial uprisings in Luanda in February 1961, had suffered a great deal from Portuguese reprisals, with many of its militant leaders dead or in prison. The rebuilding of the MPLA was substantially aided in 1962 by the arrival of Agostinho Neto, an assimilated Mbundu physician who had spent several years in jail for expressing his political views and had recently escaped from detention in Portugal. Neto attempted to bring together the MPLA and Roberto's FNLA/GRAE, but his efforts were thwarted by Roberto's insistence that his organization represented all Angolans.

Initially based in Kinshasa, as was the FNLA/GRAE, in 1963 the MPLA shifted its headquarters to Brazzaville (in present-day Congo) because of Roberto's close ties to Zairian president Mobutu Sese Seko. From Brazzaville, the MPLA launched small guerrilla operations in Cabinda, but the movement was militarily far weaker than the FNLA. Moreover, it lacked an operations base from which it could reach the densely populated north and center of Angola.

As it dragged on into 1964 and 1965, the conflict became stalemated. Hampered by insufficient financial assistance, the insurgents were unable to maintain offensive operations against a fully equipped Portuguese military force that had increased to a strength of more than 40,000. The FNLA settled into a mountain stronghold straddling the border of Uíge and Zaire provinces and continued to carry on guerrilla activities. The insurgents found it increasingly difficult to sustain the cohesion they had achieved after 1961 and 1962. Between 1963 and 1965, differences in leadership, programs, and following between the FNLA and the MPLA led to open hostilities that seriously weakened each group's strength and effectiveness.

Angola - Ascendancy of the MPLA

In 1964 the MPLA reorganized and increased its efforts to reinforce its units fighting in the Dembos areas. The improved efficiency of the movement's political and military operations attracted support from other African countries, the OAU, and several non-African countries, all of which had previously scorned the MPLA because of its internal problems.

The growing military success of the MPLA in the mid-1960s was largely the product of support from the governments of Tanzania and Zambia, which permitted the organization to open offices in their capitals. More important, Tanzania and Zambia allowed the transport of Chinese and Soviet weapons across their territories to the Angolan border. Because of the influx of weapons, in 1965 the MPLA was able to open a military front in eastern Angola, from which it launched a major offensive the following year. By this time, the MPLA had become a greater threat to Portugal's colonial rule than the FNLA.

In June 1966, the MPLA supported an unsuccessful coup against President Marien Ngouabi of Congo, whereupon activities of all guerrilla groups in Brazzaville were curtailed. After the MPLA moved its headquarters to Lusaka, Zambia, in 1968, it conducted intensive guerrilla warfare in the Angolan provinces of Moxico and Cuando Cubango.

Beginning in 1969, attacks in Lunda and Bié provinces forced the Portuguese to resettle many inhabitants of these areas in fortified villages. Wherever MPLA guerrillas were in control, they created new political structures, mainly village action committees. Politically indoctrinated MPLA guerrillas, some of whom had received military training in Eastern Europe, ranged all over eastern Angola. By 1968 the MPLA was able to hold regional party conferences inside the country.

The MPLA had a political advantage over the FNLA because of the links of MPLA leaders to the international ideological left. Its multiracial, Marxist-Leninist, and nationalist (versus ethnic or regional) views appealed to liberals in Europe and North America. Because of his radical orientation, however, Neto failed to get help from the United States. During the mid-1960s, the MPLA's ties to the communist world intensified as MPLA military cadres traveled to the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, and Bulgaria. Beginning in 1965, the MPLA began to receive training from Cuban forces.

Angola - Emergence of UNITA

The MPLA and FNLA faced a third competitor beginning in 1966 with the emergence of UNITA. UNITA first came to international attention when, in December 1966, a group of its guerrillas attacked the town of Teixeira de Sousa (renamed Luau), succeeding in interrupting the Benguela Railway and stopping Zambian and Zairian copper shipments for a week. The new organization was formed by Jonas Savimbi, the former foreign minister and main representative of the Ovimbundu within the FNLA/GRAE, whose disagreements with Roberto over policy issues led to Savimbi's resignation in July 1964. Savimbi had traveled to China in 1965, where he and several of his followers received four months of military training and became disciples of Maoism. Perhaps the strongest impact of Maoism on UNITA has been Savimbi's insistence on self-sufficiency and maintenance of the organization's leadership within Angolan borders. Upon his return to Angola in 1966, Savimbi turned down an invitation from the MPLA to join its organization as a rank-and-file member and moved UNITA into the bush, where the organization began its guerrilla war with a small amount of Chinese military aid transported via Tanzania and Zambia.

Although UNITA lacked educated cadres and arms, it attracted the largest following of the three movements from the Ovimbundu, who comprised 31 percent of the population. And, unlike the MPLA and FNLA, UNITA enjoyed the benefits of a unified and unchallenged leadership directed by Savimbi. Moreover, in contrast to the mestiço-dominated, urban-based MPLA, Savimbi presented UNITA as the representative of black peasants. UNITA's constitution proclaimed that the movement would strive for a government proportionally representative of all ethnic groups, clans, and classes. His Maoist-oriented philosophy led Savimbi to concentrate on raising the political consciousness of the peasants, most of whom were illiterate and widely dispersed. Savimbi preached selfreliance and founded cooperatives for food production and village self-defense units. He set up a pyramidal structure of elected councils grouping up to sixteen villages that--at least in theory-- articulated demands through a political commissar to a central committee, whose thirty-five members were to be chosen every four years at a congress.

In the early 1970s, UNITA began infiltrating the major population centers, slowly expanding its area of influence westward beyond Bié. There, however, it collided with the eastward thrust of the MPLA, which was sending Soviet-trained political cadres to work among the Ovimbundu and specifically with the Chokwe, Lwena, Luchazi, and Lunda, exploiting potential ethnic antagonisms.

On the eve of independence, UNITA controlled many of the rich, food-producing central and southern provinces and was therefore able to regulate the flow of food to the rest of the country. At the time, it claimed the allegiance of about 40 percent of the population.

Angola - Liberation Movements in Cabinda

Several movements advocating a separate status for Cabinda were founded in the early 1960s, all of them basing their claims on their own interpretation of Cabindan history. The most important of these was the Movement for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (Mouvement pour la Libération de l'Enclave de Cabinda--MLEC), led by Luis Ranque Franque, which had evolved out of various émigré associations in Brazzaville. In December 1961, a faction of the MLEC headed by Henriques Tiago Nzita seceded to form the Action Committee for the National Union of Cabindans (Comité d'Action d'Union Nationale des Cabindais--CAUNC). A third group, Alliance of Mayombe (Alliance de Mayombe--Alliama), led by António Eduardo Sozinho, represented the Mayombe (also spelled Maiombe), the ethnic minority of the enclave's interior. The three groups resolved their differences and united in 1963 as the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (Frente para a Libertação do Enclave de Cabinda--FLEC). When the MPLA began its military incursions into Cabinda in 1964, it encountered hostility not only from coastal members of FLEC who were living in and near the town of Cabinda but also from Mayombe peasants, whose region near the Congo frontier MPLA guerrillas had to cross.

Emulating the FNLA, FLEC created a government in exile on January 10, 1967, in the border town of Tshela in Zaire. Reflecting earlier divisions, however, the faction headed by Nzita established the Revolutionary Cabindan Committee (Comité Révolutionnaire Cabindais) in the Congolese town of Pointe Noire.

Angola - Portuguese Economic Interests and Resistance to Angolan Independence

Portugal's motivation to fight Angolan nationalism was based on economic factors. Salazar had instituted an economic system in 1935 that was designed to exploit the colonies for the benefit of Portugal by excluding or strictly limiting foreign investments. But by April 1965, Portugal faced increasing defense expenditures in order to resist the growing military strength of the nationalist movements, the MPLA in particular. This turn of events forced Salazar to permit the influx of foreign capital, which resulted in rapid economic growth in Angola.

One of the most lucrative foreign investments was made by the Cabinda Gulf Oil Company (Cabgoc), a subsidiary of the United States-based company Gulf Oil (now Chevron), which found oil in the waters off Cabinda. Other economic concerns included iron, diamonds, and the manufacturing sector, all of which experienced an enormous increase in production from the mid-1960s to 1974. By this time, Angola had become far more valuable economically to Portugal than Mozambique or any of its other colonies. Consequently, Angola's economic growth reinforced Portugal's determination to refuse Angolan independence.

One of the most far-reaching and damaging features of the Portuguese counterinsurgency was the implementation of a resettlement program in 1967. By grouping dispersed Africans into large villages organized by the military in eastern and northwestern Angola, the Portuguese hoped to achieve organized local defense against guerrilla attacks and to prevent insurgent infiltration and mobilization among peasants. Outside the fighting zones, the Portuguese used resettlement villages to promote economic and social development as a means of winning African support. The Portuguese further controlled the African population by establishing a network of spies and informers in each resettlement village.

By 1974 more than 1 million peasants had been moved into resettlement villages. The widespread disruption in rural Angola caused by the resettlement program, which failed to stop the insurgency, had profound and long-term effects on the rural population. The breakdown in the agricultural sector in particular was so pervasive that rural reconstruction and development in independent Angola had, as of 1988, never really succeeded. The Portuguese armed forces gained an advantage over the insurgents by the end of 1973 through the use of napalm and defoliants. The MPLA suffered the most from counterinsurgency operations, which were concentrated in the east, where the MPLA had its greatest strength. The MPLA's military failures also caused further conflicts between its political and military wings, as guerrilla commanders blamed the MPLA political leadership for the organization's declining military fortunes. In addition, the Soviet Union's support for Neto was never wholehearted.

The FNLA, which fought from Zairian bases, made little progress inside Angola. Furthermore, the Kinshasa government, reacting to a 1969 Portuguese raid on a Zairian border village that the FNLA used as a staging base, shut down three border camps, making it even more difficult for the FNLA to launch actions into Angola. Moreover, internal dissent among FNLA troops exploded into a mutiny in 1972; Mobutu sent Zairian troops to suppress the mutiny and save his friend Roberto from being overthrown. Although the Zairian army reorganized, retrained, and equipped FNLA guerrillas in the aftermath of the mutiny, the FNLA never posed a serious threat to the Portuguese.

UNITA was also suffering from a variety of problems by the end of 1973. Militarily it was the weakest nationalist movement. The organization's military arm lacked sufficient weaponry. Many of its Chokwe members, who did not have the ethnic loyalty to the organization felt by the Ovimbundu, went over to the better-armed FNLA and MPLA.

Angola - The Portuguese Coup d'Etat and the End of the Colonial Era

During the early 1970s, its African wars--including fierce nationalist struggles in Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau--were draining Portugal's resources. By 1974 the Portuguese had lost 11,000 military personnel in Africa. On April 25, 1974, a group of disillusioned military officers, led by the former governor and commander in Guinea-Bissau, General António de Spínola, overthrew the Lisbon government.

On July 14, Spínola acceded to the wishes of officers who favored independence for the Portuguese territories in Africa and promised to take steps toward their freedom. At the end of July, Spínola appointed Admiral Rosa Coutinho as head of a military council formed to oversee Angola's independence. Also during this time, UNITA and the MPLA signed cease-fire agreements with Portugal; the FNLA initially moved military units into northern Angola, but later it too signed a cease-fire. The liberation movements set up offices in the major population centers of the country, eager to mobilize support and gain political control.

The approximately 335,000 whites in Angola, who had no political experience and organization under years of Portuguese authoritarian rule, were unable to assert a unilateral independence. In addition, their security was severely threatened as the new Spínola government began releasing political prisoners and authorized Angolans to organize, assemble, and speak freely. In July 1974, white frustration exploded into violence as Luandan whites rioted, pillaged, and massacred African slum dwellers. The Portuguese army quickly suppressed the riot, but when the Portuguese government announced that it intended to form a provisional Angolan government that would include representatives of both the nationalist movements and the white population, further rioting by whites erupted in Luanda.


In the wake of the coup in Portugal, there remained a wide split in the Angolan nationalist movement. Lisbon was anxious to relinquish power to a unified government and took an active role in bringing about a reconciliation of the three liberation movements. In addition, at the urgings of the OAU, Neto, Roberto, and Savimbi made several attempts to form a common front. At a meeting in Kenya in early January 1975, they recognized their parties as independent entities with equal rights and responsibilities, agreed that a period of transition was necessary before independence could be achieved (during which they would work with the Portuguese to lay the foundation for an independent Angola), and pledged to maintain Angolan territorial integrity. They also agreed that only their three organizations would be included in a unity government. FLEC, with its goal of a Cabindan secession, did not support territorial integrity and was excluded. In addition, an MPLA splinter group led by Daniel Chipenda was not considered a legitimate nationalist movement, and it too was excluded.

Meeting in Alvor, Portugal, on January 10, the Lisbon government and the nationalist movements produced an agreement setting independence for November 11, 1975. Under the Alvor Agreement, a transitional government headed by a Portuguese high commissioner was formed; it included the MPLA, UNITA, and the FNLA.

One factor that influenced these agreements was the role of Admiral Coutinho. His pro-MPLA proclivities threatened the delicate balance that the liberation movements had achieved. Angered by his activities, Spínola removed him at the end of January 1975.

On January 31, 1975, the transitional government was sworn in, but the coalition, based on a fragile truce, had serious difficulties, as the leaders of its three member organizations bickered over a number of issues, including personal power. Within days, localized conflicts between MPLA and FNLA forces were renewed. Moreover, on February 13 the MPLA attacked the Luanda office of Chipenda's faction, after which Chipenda joined the FNLA and became its assistant secretary general.

Angola - Foreign Intervention

During the transition period, foreign powers were becoming increasingly involved as the situation in Angola rapidly expanded into an East-West power struggle. In late January, a high-level United States government policy-making body authorized a grant of US$300,000 to the pro-Western FNLA, which at the time seemed to be the strongest of the three movements. In March the Soviet Union countered by increasing arms deliveries to the MPLA, and by midJuly that group had become appreciably stronger militarily. Alarmed, the United States increased funding to the FNLA and, for the first time, funded UNITA. Cuba, which had been aiding the MPLA since the mid-1960s, sent military instructors in the late spring of 1975. By early October, more Cuban military personnel had arrived, this time primarily combat troops; their total then probably reached between 1,100 and 1,500.

In April the presidents of Zambia, Tanzania, and Botswana decided to support Savimbi as leader of an Angolan government of national unity, believing that UNITA attracted the widest popular support in Angola. Savimbi also had the support of some francophone states and of Nigeria and Ghana. Some of these countries later withdrew that support when the OAU pleaded for reconciliation and adherence to the Alvor Agreement.

Angola - Collapse of the Transitional Government

Inevitably, the delicate coalition came apart as the leaders of the three movements failed to resolve fundamental policy disagreements or control their competition for personal power. Although the OAU brought Neto, Roberto, and Savimbi together in June 1975 for negotiations that produced a draft constitution, heavy fighting broke out in early July and spread swiftly throughout the country. Within a week, the MPLA had forced the FNLA out of Luanda, while the FNLA had eliminated all remaining MPLA presence in the northern towns of Uíge and Zaire provinces. UNITA formally declared war on the MPLA on August 1, 1975. A year earlier, the MPLA had created its military wing, the People's Armed Forces for the Liberation of Angola (Forças Armadas Populares de Libertação de Angola -- FAPLA), which became the core of the postindependence army. The FNLA and UNITA, recognizing that their separate military forces were not strong enough to fight the MPLA, formed an alliance and withdrew their ministers from the provisional government in Luanda, heralding full-scale civil war. The United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), meanwhile, initiated a covert program to have American and European mercenaries fight with the FNLA.

On August 14, 1975, the transitional government collapsed. Portugal ordered the dissolution of the coalition government and announced the assumption of all executive powers by the acting Portuguese high commissioner in Angola. In reality, MPLA officials filled those ministries abandoned by the FNLA and UNITA, thereby allowing the MPLA to extend its political control throughout the Luanda government.

Angola - South African Intervention

South Africa's interest in Angolan affairs began during the Portuguese colonial period, especially after 1966 when the insurgency spread to the east. South Africa's military and intelligence services cooperated closely with those of Portugal. South Africa and Portugal opened a joint command center in Cuito Cuanavale in southeast Angola in 1968, and from there South African troops participated in actions against Angolan nationalist guerrillas as well as against southern Angola-based guerrillas of the South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO), the Namibian group fighting for independence from South African rule.

The collapse of Portugal's empire and the prospect of black rule in Angola (and Mozambique) caused enormous concern in Pretoria. Especially troubling to the South African government was the leftist orientation of several of these nationalist movements. Thus, in August 1975 South African military forces came to the aid of the FNLA-UNITA alliance and occupied the Ruacaná hydroelectric complex and other installations on the Cunene River. On October 23, a force of 300 South African troops, assisted by about 3,000 South African-trained Angolans, invaded Angola. They advanced rapidly north for nearly 1,000 kilometers and came within 100 kilometers of Luanda. This force was later increased to as many as 10,000, but most of these troops were Angolans under South Africa's military command.

The South African invasion had several international consequences. It prompted a massive increase in the flow of Soviet military supplies to the MPLA and caused Cuba to send thousands of men to Angola in defense of the government. Moreover, because the United States was supporting the same factions as the South African regime, the United States involvement drew harsh criticism from the international community. Furthermore, many African countries that until then had opposed the MPLA, including Nigeria, Tanzania, Ghana, and Sudan, reversed themselves and recognized the MPLA government.


Unlike Portugal's other African possessions, which had made relatively peaceful transitions to independence months earlier, by November 11, 1975, Angola was in chaos. In the absence of a central government to which Portuguese officials could relinquish control, Portugal refused to recognize any faction; instead, it ceded independence to the people of Angola. The MPLA subsequently announced the establishment of its government in Luanda and called the territory it controlled the People's Republic of Angola.

The FNLA and UNITA announced a separate regime with headquarters in the southern city of Huambo and called their territory the Democratic People's Republic of Angola. But because of continuing hostility between them, the FNLA and UNITA did not set up a government until December 1975, nor did they attempt to fuse their armies. Moreover, the FNLA-UNITA alliance received no formal recognition from other states, mostly because of its South African support. In general, the international community, particularly other African states, viewed South African involvement in favor of the FNLA and UNITA as a legitimization of Soviet and Cuban support for the MPLA.

By January 1976, with the support of some 10,000 to 12,000 Cuban troops and Soviet arms worth US$200 million, it was clear that the MPLA had emerged as the dominant military power. By February 1976, the FNLA and its mercenaries had been defeated in northern Angola; under international pressure, South African troops had withdrawn into Namibia; and the MPLA was in control in Cabinda. Furthermore, United States assistance to the FNLA and UNITA ceased following the passage by the United States Senate of the Clark Amendment, which prohibited all direct and indirect military or paramilitary assistance to any Angolan group. The OAU finally recognized the MPLA regime as Angola's official government, as did the UN and Portugal and more than eighty other nations.

Angola - Transformation into a Marxist-Leninist Party and Internal Dissent

Although Marxist influences were evident before independence, Marxism-Leninism had not been the MPLA's stated ideology. But during a plenum of the MPLA Central Committee in October 1976, the party formally adopted Marxism-Leninism. The plenum also resulted in several major organizational decisions, including the creation of a secretariat, a commission to direct and control the Department of Political Orientation, and the Department of Information and Propaganda. The National Party School, founded in February 1977, trained party cadres to fill national and provincial party positions, and at the First Party Congress in December 1977, the MPLA transformed itself into a vanguard Marxist-Leninist party to be called the Popular Movement for the Liberation of AngolaWorkers ' Party (Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola-Partido de Trabalho--MPLA-PT).

The estimated 110,000 members of the MPLA-PT had widely diverse backgrounds and political ideas, which made factionalism inevitable. The Neto regime soon faced problems generated by independent left-wing organizations and militant workers. Neto made the first public reference to internal dissent on February 6, 1976, when he denounced a demonstration that had protested the termination of a popular radio program that had been critical of the new government and that had demanded rule by workers and peasants. The government arrested some of the demonstrators and launched a major crackdown on opposition elements. One of these was the so-called Active Revolt, a faction founded in 1973 that comprised intellectuals of varying political orientation andincluded the MPLA's first president, Mário de Andrade, and other prominent MPLA leaders. Another opposition element was the Organization of Angolan Communists (Organização dos Comunistas de Angola -- OCA), a Maoist movement founded in 1975 that attacked the MPLA as a bourgeois party, condemned Soviet imperialism, and called for the withdrawal of all Cuban forces.

Angola - Shaba Invasion and the Nitista Plot

Several incidents in the mid- to late 1970s contributed to the MPLA regime's reliance on Soviet military aid and the presence of Cuban troops. The first incident occurred on March 8, 1977, when the National Front for the Liberation of the Congo (Front National pour la Libération du Congo--FNLC), a political opposition group hostile to Zaire's President Mobutu, launched an attack from Angola on Zaire's economically vital Shaba Province. Although the Zaire government halted the invasion with the aid of Moroccan troops, Mobutu accused the MPLA of having instigated the attack. In return, Neto charged Mobutu with harboring and militarily supporting both the FNLA and FLEC. The MPLA government, faced with continuing border violations and engaged in recriminations with the Mobutu regime, requested and received an increase in the number of Cuban troops.

Another incident brought factionalism in the MPLA leadership into sharp focus. Two ultraleftists, minister of interior and Central Committee member Nito Alves and Central Committee member José Van Dúnem, had become critical of the government's economic policies, which both men considered too moderate. They also criticized the government leadership for its heavy representation of whites and mestiços. In October 1976, the MPLA condemned Alves for factionalism and abolished his ministry. The government set up a commission of inquiry that investigated reports that Van Dúnem and Alves had purposely caused food shortages to stir up discontent. The commission found the men guilty and expelled them from the Central Committee in May 1977. Later that month, Alves and Van Dúnem led an uprising in the capital and called for mass demonstrations outside the presidential palace. The uprising failed, but Alves, Van Dúnem, and their followers seized a number of senior government leaders, whom they later killed.

The Neto regime, already alarmed by party factionalism and the number of members who did not actively support the party's MarxistLeninist objectives, conducted a massive purge. It reorganized the party and the mass organizations, many of which had supported Alves and Van Dúnem. The commissars and directing committees in eight provinces, appointed by Alves when he had been minister of interior, were removed. Thousands of Alves supporters, referred to as Nitistas, were dismissed from their positions and detained. All mass organizations were made subordinate to the MPLA. Finally, to achieve these changes, national and provincial restructuring committees were set up. By December 1980, the party had shrunk from 110,000 members to about 32,000 members.

Angola - Strengthening Ties with the Soviet Union and Its Allies

The Nitista plot shook the Neto regime severely and was a stark reminder of the young government's vulnerability in the face of internal factionalism and South African destabilization efforts. In the aftermath of the failed coup attempt, the government came to the realization that its survival depended on continued support from the Soviet Union and its allies. Consequently, the government's reliance on Soviet and Cuban military support increased, as did its commitment to Marxist-Leninist ideology.

A new phase of Angola's formal relationship with the Soviet Union had already begun in October 1976, when Neto signed the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation with the Soviet Union pledging both signatories to mutual military cooperation. The treaty was significant in global terms in that it gave the Soviet Union the right to use Angolan airports and Luanda harbor for military purposes, enabling the Soviet Union to project its forces throughout the South Atlantic region.

For the Soviet Union, its intervention in Angola was a major foreign policy coup. Soviet leaders correctly judged that the United States, because of its recent Vietnam experience, would be reluctant to intervene heavily in a distant, low-priority area. Conditions would thus be created in which the Soviet Union could exert its influence and gain a firm foothold in southern Africa. In addition, South African involvement in Angola convinced most members of the OAU that Soviet support for the Angolan government was a necessary counterweight to South African destabilization efforts. Furthermore, United States support for UNITA during the civil war had tainted the United States in the eyes of the OAU and many Western governments, which perceived a South African-American link.

Beginning in 1978, periodic South African incursions into southern Angola, coupled with UNITA's northward expansion in the east, forced the Angolan government to increase expenditures on Soviet military aid and to depend even more on military personnel from the Soviet Union, the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), and Cuba.

The Angolan government's relationships with the Soviet Union and Cuba were linked in some ways but distinct in other respects. Clearly, the Soviets and Cubans were both attracted to the Angolan government's Marxist-Leninist orientation, and Cuba generally followed the Soviet Union's lead in the latter's quest for international influence. Nonetheless, Cuba had its own agenda in Angola, where Cuban leader Fidel Castro believed that by supporting an ideologically compatible revolutionary movement he could acquire international status independent of the Soviet Union.

Although Soviet and Cuban interests in Angola usually converged, there were also disagreements, mostly because of the factionalism within the MPLA-PT. On the one hand, the Soviet Union seemed to have favored Minister of Interior Alves's more radical viewpoints over those of Neto and probably supported the Nitista coup attempt in 1977. The Cubans, on the other hand, played an active military role in foiling the coup attempt and increased their troop presence in Angola shortly thereafter in support of the Neto regime.

Angola - Economic Problems and the Implementation of Socialist Policies

One of the priorities of the Neto regime after independence was to repair the country's infrastructure, which had been shattered by the liberation struggle and the civil war. There had been extensive damage to bridges, roads, and transport vehicles, and most undamaged vehicles had been taken out of the country by the Portuguese. With no means of transporting food and other essential supplies to many areas of the country, the distribution system collapsed. Furthermore, a good part of the economy disintegrated when most of the Portuguese settlers, including skilled workers and government and economic development administrators, left the country at independence.

Perhaps more in response to the economic emergency than as a result of the party's long-term commitment to a planned socialist economy, the government created a large state sector as stipulated in a resolution passed during the October 1976 party plenum. Earlier that year, the government allowed state intervention in the management of private companies that had suffered most from the Portuguese withdrawal and passed the Law on State Intervention in March 1976, which provided for the formal nationalization of private companies. As a result, a large part of the economy, including abandoned commercial farms, the mining industry, and the banking sector, became publicly owned. The government, however, acknowledging the massive reconstruction task it faced, continued to encourage and support the private sector and to welcome foreign investment.

The MPLA leadership gave urgent priority to the revival of the agricultural sector, which employed about 75 percent of the economically active population. But the government's rejection of market incentives, the massive dislocations caused by warfare, the disorganization of the new bureaucracy, and hostility among the peasants to imposed collectivization of their land doomed most government efforts. Once a food exporter, Angola was forced to import an ever-increasing amount of food.

Although the agricultural sector barely continued to produce, the Angolan economy survived because of the oil produced by and sold to Western private enterprise. The honest and straightforward approach of the Angolan government toward its Western investors earned it the admiration of its partners and resulted in the inflow of capital not only in the oil industry but also in mining and fishing.

Angola - The UNITA Insurgency and the South African Threat

In addition to severe economic disruptions, in the late 1970s the Angolan government was also challenged by the UNITA insurgency. UNITA was able to survive after the war for independence, first, because of the continued loyalty of some of its traditional Ovimbundu supporters, but, more important, because of military and logistical support from South Africa. Pretoria established its relationship with UNITA for several reasons. Vehemently anticommunist, South Africa felt threatened by the MPLA's turn toward the Soviet Union and its allies. The South Africans also wished to retaliate for Luanda's support of SWAPO. Furthermore, by helping UNITA shut down the Benguela Railway, which linked the mining areas of Zaire and Zambia to Atlantic ports, Pretoria made these two countries more dependent on South Africa's transportation system and thus more responsive to South African wishes.

In support of UNITA leader Savimbi, the South African Defense Force (SADF) set up bases in Cuando Cubango Province in southeastern Angola. Savimbi established his headquarters in Jamba and enjoyed air cover provided by the South African air force from bases in Namibia. The SADF also trained UNITA guerrillas in Namibia and provided UNITA with arms, fuel, and food. On occasion, South African ground forces provided direct support during UNITA battles with FAPLA.

Damaging though the UNITA assaults were, the greatest threat to Angola's security in the late 1970s was posed by the SADF. Following its withdrawal from Angola in mid-1976 after its involvement in the war for independence, the SADF routinely launched small-scale incursions from Namibia into southern Angola in pursuit of SWAPO guerrillas. The first large-scale South African incursion into Angola took place in May 1978, when the SADF raided a Namibian refugee camp at Cassinga and killed hundreds of people. By the end of 1979, following the SADF bombing of Lubango, the capital of Huíla Province, an undeclared border war between South Africa and Angola was in full force.

Angola - The Final Days of the Neto Regime

By the late 1970s, Angolan head of state Agostinho Neto had reached a better understanding of the motivations behind the 1977 Nitista coup attempt. Accordingly, he sought a more pragmatic approach to balancing the diverse personalities and schools of thought within the government and party. In December 1978, Neto began a series of government and party reorganizations designed to increase the powers of the president, purge both ruling structures of incompetent and corrupt officials, and balance ethnic, racial, and ideological elements. By abolishing the offices of prime minister and deputy prime minister, Neto was able to deal directly with his ministers rather than through intermediaries. The reorganization also resulted in the dismissal or reassignment of a large number of senior party officials. Neto effected the most dramatic change in the MPLA-PT Political Bureau, which had been dominated by mestiços and Mbundu. He reorganized the Political Bureau by appointing officials, including three Bakongo and two Cabindan members, who gave it a broader ethnic representation. These reorganizations were accompanied by a partial amnesty that included the release from prison and return from exile of members of the Active Revolt, many of whom Neto reintegrated into the party. Furthermore, Neto welcomed back to Angola a number of FNLA members and, according to some sources, even made friendly overtures to Chipenda. By 1979 Neto had largely succeeded in molding the MPLA-PT into a cohesive organization of carefully selected cadres.

Neto also pursued a foreign policy designed to weaken external support for UNITA (and what was left of the FNLA and FLEC) and to secure friendly relations with as many states as possible for both security and economic reasons. Included in this last goal was a July 1979 foreign investment law that provided more attractive benefits for foreign investors and that Neto designed primarily to encourage further Western investment in oil exploration.


When Neto died in September 1979 in a Moscow hospital, he was still in the process of consolidating his power and reconciling with former opponents. To his credit, the internal party cohesion that he fostered allowed a smooth transfer of power to José Eduardo dos Santos, a Soviet-educated Mbundu who had served as first deputy prime minister and then as minister of planning following the December 1978 reorganization.

Despite his student years in the Soviet Union, dos Santos was a moderate with a pragmatic outlook, not unlike that of Neto. He soon expressed his preference for a mixed economy with an important role for the private sector. The direction in which he guided the MPLA-PT was especially telling. He pushed for the promotion to the Central Committee of four moderates--Manuel Alexandre Rodrigues (nom de guerre Kito; Mbundu), Kundi Paihama (southern Ovambo), Paulo Jorge (mestiço), and Roberto de Almeida (mestiço). The ethnic backgrounds of these four men also demonstrated the new regime's continuing commitment to broadened representation in the top party leadership. Nonetheless, no Ovimbundu--the largest ethnic group and the one to which Savimbi belonged--was a member of the Political Bureau. Dos Santos defended this omission by explaining that there were no politically educated Ovimbundu who could fill top party positions. The promotion of Minister of Foreign Relations Jorge to full membership in the Central Committee was especially significant because, during the Neto regime, Jorge had initiated contact with the West and maintained the flexible foreign policy that characterized that regime, despite Soviet objections. Minister of Domestic and Foreign Trade Almeida, also promoted to full Central Committee membership, was an active participant in the fostering of Angola's economic ties with the West as well.

Angola - Steps Toward a Stronger Party and Political Discord

The party unanimously confirmed dos Santos as its president during the MPLA-PT's First Extraordinary Party Congress held in December 1980. The congress also increased the number of Central Committee members from fifty-eight to seventy, and it took a decisive step toward creating a greater role for the party in running the nation and a diminished role for the government. A major constitutional change that had been enacted earlier paved the way for the formation of the national People's Assembly. Provincial assemblies, elected by the public, then elected assembly members, who in turn elected a twenty-five-member permanent commission that included the president and the entire Political Bureau. Thus, the People's Assembly, which replaced the government's Council of the Revolution, became an organ primarily of the party rather than the government.

During a meeting in March 1981, the Central Committee further reinforced the MPLA-PT's primacy over the government by assigning to itself increased responsibility for the job of orienting and supervising the work of the Council of Ministers. A government reorganization followed the meeting, and several ministers left the government to take on senior party positions, where they had greater opportunities to gain power. Because most of the ministers who remained in the Council of Ministers were technocrats, the bureaucratic skills of government officials improved, and the reorganization further differentiated government and party functions.

Dos Santos's efforts to secure the supremacy of the party over the government, however, created sharp divisions within the government and party elites along political and racial lines. On one side were the Africanists, or nationalists, who were mostly black and held most of the senior positions in the government and ministries. The Africanists, for the most part, were known as pragmatists and favored improved relations with the West and a rapprochement with UNITA. On the other side were the ideologues, mostly mestiços and whites, who dominated the party and adhered adamantly to the Soviet Marxist-Leninist line. Although these divisions caused bitter schisms and numerous policy-making problems, they were not unusual for a government that dealt with both the Soviet Unionm and its Allies (in the military sphere) and the West (in the economic sphere).

Angola - The Namibia Issue and Security Threats in the 1980s

In the early 1980s, the status of Namibia evolved into a complex international issue involving principally the governments of the United States, Angola, South Africa, and Cuba. The United States, troubled by the growing Soviet and Cuban presence in Angola, sought to reduce this influence by becoming directly involved in negotiations for a withdrawal of Cuban troops from Angola and for Namibian independence. For its part, Angola claimed that if the SADF threat were removed from its southern border, it could safely reduce the number of Cuban troops and Soviet advisers. The most obvious way this could be done was if South Africa granted independence to Namibia. South Africa, already preoccupied with the leftist regime in Angola, was reluctant to relinquish control of Namibia and allow free elections because of the possibility that these elections would bring its traditional nemesis, SWAPO, to power.

In 1977 Britain, Canada, France, the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany), and the United States formed an informal negotiating team, called the Contact Group, to work with South Africa to implement a UN plan for free elections in Namibia. The South African government, however, was fundamentally opposed to the UN plan, which it claimed was biased in favor of the installation of a SWAPO government in Namibia. Pretoria continued to attend negotiating sessions throughout the early 1980s, always prepared to bargain but never ready to settle.

By the beginning of 1981, South Africa's undeclared war with Angola and its support for an increasingly effective UNITA had become the focus of the dos Santos regime. After the failure in January 1981 of the UN-sponsored talks on the future of Namibia, South African military aggression escalated and became directed as much against Angolan targets as against SWAPO guerrillas. In August 1981, the SADF launched Operation Protea, in which several thousand troops and accompanying equipment penetrated 120 kilometers into southwestern Angola. This invasion marked the beginning of a different kind of war, one in which South Africa no longer pretended to restrict its incursions to the pursuit of SWAPO units but openly intensified its assaults on Angolan economic targets and began to occupy Angolan territory, particularly in Cunene Province. Furthermore, SADF support for UNITA in 1982 and 1983 increased to the extent that the South African Air Force (SAAF) participated in UNITA operations against FAPLA.

The rapid escalation of South African military aggression in Angola was matched by the massive infiltration of the countryside by UNITA forces. This activity far exceeded UNITA's previous hitand -run operations aimed primarily at the Benguela Railway. But perhaps the most detrimental effect of the UNITA insurgency was the disruption of the economy, particularly the agricultural sector. By the end of 1985, fighting between UNITA and FAPLA had forced hundreds of thousands of peasants to flee from the fertile central highlands. The result was a precipitous drop in food production. UNITA guerrillas also frequently mined roads and railroads, blew up electric power transmission lines, and attacked dams, mining facilities, and coffee plantations. Moreover, they began taking foreign technicians hostage in the hope of gaining publicity for the UNITA cause.

Angola - Second Party Congress

The Second Party Congress of the MPLA-PT, held in December 1985, focused on two main themes: greater economic efficiency and improved defense capabilities. The party had little to celebrate in view of the deplorable conditions that then prevailed. Politically, the party lacked sufficiently educated cadres, and economically, the government was forced to import 80 percent of its food and had become dependent on Western oil companies to keep the economy afloat. The large number of party members attending the congress who were also military officers (about a quarter of all party delegates) exemplified the MPLA-PT's emphasis on the defense sector. The Central Committee report to the congress projected that more than one-third of the government budget would go to defense and security over the next five years.

During the congress, party officials expressed their dissatisfaction with economic policies patterned on Soviet models that had failed to revive Angola's agricultural sector. In fact, the most significant results of the congress were a purge of Soviet hardliners and an influx of well-trained nationalists with more pragmatic viewpoints. Within the party's senior ranks, many leading ideologues were demoted, as were a number of mestiços; they were replaced with younger black technocrats and the president's closest supporters.

An unexpected change involved one of the most prominent members of the pro-Soviet group, Lúcio Lára, who had been considered the second most powerful figure in the MPLA-PT. Lára lost his position in the Political Bureau and ended up with the largely honorary position of first secretary of the People's Assembly. Overall, the most notable outcomes of the congress were the enhanced prestige and authority of dos Santos and a more professional and loyalist party leadership, in which the armed forces were heavily represented.

By the late 1980s, Angola had far to go in its quest to become a viable, sovereign state. More than 50,000 Cuban troops remained in the country to provide security; UNITA and the SADF launched attacks with impunity; the oil sector--and hence the treasury-- suffered grievously from the worldwide slump in petroleum prices; and hundreds of thousands of Angolans, in the countryside as well as in the increasingly crowded cities, were malnourished. Yet, in late 1988 there were a few reasons for optimism. United Statessponsored negotiations were finally successful, opening the door for a settlement of the Namibia dispute, the withdrawal of Cuban forces from Angola, and an accord betyween the MPLA-PT and UNITA-- in short, the conditions necessary for Angola to resume the process of nationbuilding and to prepare a better future for its people.

Sources emphasizing the early history of the Africans in Angola are Jan Vansina's Kingdoms of the Savanna, Douglas L. Wheeler and René Pélissier's Angola, and Joseph C. Miller's Kings and Kinsmen. The best accounts of Portuguese expansion in Angola are Gerald J. Bender's Angola under the Portuguese and Lawrence W. Henderson's Angola: Five Centuries of Conflict, both of which deal extensively with the brutality of Portuguese colonial policies and institutions. Other useful works are Malyn Newitt's Portugal in Africa, C.R. Boxer's Race Relations in the Portuguese Colonial Empire, 1415-1825, and John Sykes's Portugal and Africa.

By far the most complete and valuable account of the Angolan nationalist struggle is John A. Marcum's The Angolan Revolution. This work is divided into two volumes: The Anatomy of an Explosion, 1950-1962 and Exile Politics and Guerrilla Warfare, 1962-1976. Keith Somerville's Angola: Politics, Economics, and Society is an exhaustive and wellwritten account of the MPLA's institutions and policies.

A wealth of material exists on Angola's security problems and the escalation of Soviet and Cuban military support. Some of the best sources are Tony Hodges's Angola to the 1990s, a special report published by the Economist Intelligence Unit; John A. Marcum's paper prepared for the United States Information Agency titled "Radical Vision Frustrated: Angola and Cuba"; Gerald J. Bender's article in Current History titled "The Continuing Crisis in Angola"; two chapters by John A. Marcum titled "UNITA: The Politics of Survival" and "A Quarter Century of War" in Angola, Mozambique, and the West, edited by Helen Kitchen; two articles by Gillian Gunn titled "The Angolan Economy" and "Cuba and Angola," also in Helen Kitchen's edited volume; and Arthur Jay Klinghoffer's The Angolan War.

Angola - The Society and Its Environment

IN LATE 1988, ANGOLAN SOCIETY still bore the scars inflicted by five centuries of colonial rule and by a fourteen-year-long insurgency that had drained the national treasury and frustrated the government's efforts to implement Marxist-Leninist policies. Complicating the study of contemporary Angolan society was the limited information available to researchers. During the period of turmoil that began in 1975, few Western observers had been allowed access to government-controlled areas. Furthermore, the Angolan press was closely controlled by the government and prone to propagandistic reporting; antigovernment sources were equally slanted.

Despite these limitations, certain features of Angolan society could be outlined, if not clearly discerned. In 1988 Angola had an estimated population of 8.2 million, the great majority of whom lived in the western half of the country. Nearly 7 million Angolans lived in government-controlled areas. The remainder, an estimated 1.25 million, resided in rebel-held regions. Most Angolans inhabited rural areas, although there had been a significant trend since the 1970s toward urban growth. By 1988 about a third of the population was living in towns and cities. Most of the urban areas were in the more populous western half of the country.

Scholars often divided the population into a number of ethnolinguistic categories, but in many cases these categories had been devised by others, both Portuguese and Africans. Physical boundaries based on these categories had been established by the Portuguese for use in census taking and related activities. Although they acquired a certain meaning for the people included in them in the course of the colonial period and during the nationalist struggle, these categories were neither fixed nor internally homogeneous, and they were subject to change under shifting historical conditions.

The three largest categories--the Ovimbundu, the Mbundu, and the Bakongo--together constituted nearly three-quarters of Angola's population. Mestiços (persons of mixed European and African ancestry; see Glossary), at less than 2 percent of the population, had played an important role in the ruling party since independence, mostly because they were fairly well educated in a society in which educated persons were relatively few. They had, however, been the target of much resentment, a consequence of their former identification with the Portuguese and, often, of their expressions of superiority to Africans. The regime of José Eduardo dos Santos, who became president in 1979, sought to dissipate this resentment by replacing high-ranking mestiço party and government officials with individuals of other ethnic backgrounds.

Little is known of the actual workings of indigenous social systems as modified during the colonial period. The most persistent of groupings and institutions, such as clans or tribes, were based on descent from a common ancestor, in most cases a common female ancestor, and were traced through females. (With rare exceptions, however, authority lay in male hands.) As enduring as these had been, such groupings and institutions were showing signs of losing their significance toward the end of the colonial era. In many instances, they were further disrupted by the devastating effects of the insurgency waged by the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola -- UNITA), which caused massive displacement of much of the rural population, particularly from the eastern provinces.

The Portuguese-imposed national structure was almost totally destroyed by the Marxist-Leninist institutions established after independence in 1975. There have been significant changes, however, in the ideology of the country's leaders in the mid- to late 1980s. Although the ruling party, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola-Workers' Party (Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola-Partido de Trabalho--MPLA-PT), inveighed against what it called petit bourgeois tendencies, its leaders accepted private enterprise and a more tolerant attitude toward personal gain as means of coping with the country's massive economic and administrative problems.

Despite its opposition to religion, the Marxist-Leninist government did not prohibit the existence of religious institutions. Many Angolans were Roman Catholics or Protestants, and missionaries had been instrumental in providing education to Angolans during the colonial era when schooling had been largely denied to Africans by the colonial authorities. Nonetheless, the government was suspicious of large organized groups that could threaten its stability, particularly the Roman Catholic Church, because it had not overtly opposed Portuguese colonialism. There was less hostility toward the Protestant churches, which had not maintained particularly close ties to the Portuguese colonial authorities. Indigenous religions continued to influence the lives of a large segment of the population, even though some of these people also belonged to Christian denominations.

In the late 1980s, there was a tremendous need for educated Angolans in both the economic and the governmental sectors, especially in technical fields. Although the government had made steady progress in providing education at the primary and secondary school levels, there were still severe teacher shortages, mostly in rural areas, and vast problems in reaching those children living in areas where UNITA military actions were most frequent.

There were also shortages of trained Angolan personnel in the health field, which had forced the government to bring in hundreds of foreign health care personnel to meet the needs of the population as well as to train Angolans in health care practices. Nonetheless, the high infant mortality rate and proliferation of diseases, exacerbated by poor sanitation and malnutrition, attested to the government's insufficient progress in this area.


A total area of 1,246,700 square kilometers (including Cabinda Province) makes Angola the seventh largest state in Africa, but it is also one of the most lightly populated. The country is bordered to the north and east by Zaire, to the east by Zambia, and to the south by Namibia. The 7,270-square-kilometer enclave of Cabinda, which is separated from the rest of Angola by a strip of Zairian territory, is bordered on the north by Congo.


Angola - Terrain

Angola has three principal natural regions: the coastal lowland, characterized by low plains and terraces; hills and mountains, rising inland from the coast into a great escarpment; and an area of high plains, called the high plateau (planalto), which extends eastward from the escarpment.

The coastal lowland rises from the sea in a series of low terraces. This region varies in width from about 25 kilometers near Benguela to more than 150 kilometers in the Cuanza River Valley just south of Angola's capital, Luanda, and is markedly different from Angola's highland mass. The Atlantic Ocean's cold, northwardflowing Benguela Current substantially reduces precipitation along the coast, making the region relatively arid or nearly so south of Benguela (where it forms the northern extension of the Namib Desert), and quite dry even in its northern reaches. Even where, as around Luanda, the average annual rainfall may be as much as fifty centimeters, it is not uncommon for the rains to fail. Given this pattern of precipitation, the far south is marked by sand dunes, which give way to dry scrub along the middle coast. Portions of the northern coastal plain are covered by thick brush.

The belt of hills and mountains parallels the coast at distances ranging from 20 kilometers to 100 kilometers inland. The Cuanza River divides the zone into two parts. The northern part rises gradually from the coastal zone to an average elevation of 500 meters, with crests as high as 1,000 meters to 1,800 meters. South of the Cuanza River, the hills rise sharply from the coastal lowlands and form a high escarpment, extending from a point east of Luanda and running south through Namibia. The escarpment reaches 2,400 meters at its highest point, southeast of the town of Sumbe, and is steepest in the far south in the Serra da Chela mountain range.

The high plateau lies to the east of the hills and mountains and dominates Angola's terrain. The surface of the plateau is typically flat or rolling, but parts of the Benguela Plateau and the Humpata Highland area of the Huíla Plateau in the south reach heights of 2,500 meters and more. The Malanje Plateau to the north rarely exceeds 1,000 meters in height. The Benguela Plateau and the coastal area in the immediate environs of Benguela and Lobito, the Bié Plateau, the Malanje Plateau, and a small section of the Huíla Plateau near the town of Lubango have long been among the most densely settled areas in Angola.

Angola - Drainage

Most of the country's many rivers originate in central Angola, but their patterns of flow are diverse and their ultimate outlets varied. A number of rivers flow in a more or less westerly course to the Atlantic Ocean, providing water for irrigation in the dry coastal strip and the potential for hydroelectric power, only some of which had been realized by 1988. Two of Angola's most important rivers, the Cuanza and the Cunene, take a more indirect route to the Atlantic, the Cuanza flowing north and the Cunene flowing south before turning west. The Cuanza is the only river wholly within Angola that is navigable--for nearly 200 kilometers from its mouth- -by boats of commercially or militarily significant size. The Congo River, whose mouth and western end form a small portion of Angola's northern border with Zaire, is also navigable.

North of the Lunda Divide a number of important tributaries of the Congo River flow north to join it, draining Angola's northeast quadrant. South of the divide some rivers flow into the Zambezi River and thence to the Indian Ocean, others to the Okavango River (as the Cubango River is called along the border with Namibia and in Botswana) and thence to the Okavango Swamp in Botswana. The tributaries of the Cubango River and several of the southern rivers flowing to the Atlantic are seasonal, completely dry much of the year.

Angola - Climate

Like the rest of tropical Africa, Angola experiences distinct, alternating rainy and dry seasons. In the north, the rainy season may last for as long as seven months--usually from September to April, with perhaps a brief slackening in January or February. In the south, the rainy season begins later, in November, and lasts until about February. The dry season (cacimbo) is often characterized by a heavy morning mist. In general, precipitation is higher in the north, but at any latitude it is greater in the interior than along the coast and increases with altitude.

Temperatures fall with distance from the equator and with altitude and tend to rise closer to the Atlantic Ocean. Thus at Soyo, at the mouth of the Congo River, the average annual temperature is about 26°C, but it is under 16°C at Huambo on the temperate central plateau. The coolest months are July and August (in the middle of the dry season), when frost may sometimes form at higher altitudes.


As of late 1988, the last official census in Angola had been taken in 1970. As a result, most population figures were widely varying estimates based on scanty birth and death rate data. According to the United States Department of Commerce's Bureau of the Census, Angola's 1988 population was about 8.2 million. The United States Department of State gave a 1986 figure of 8.5 million, while the United Nations (UN) Economic Commission for Africa estimated the mid-1986 population at 8.9 million. The Angolan government estimated the 1988 population at almost 9.5 million. The government figure, however, may have included Angolan refugees in neighboring countries. According to the U.S. Committee for Refugees, a private agency, in mid-1987 more than 400,000 Angolan refugees resided in Zaire and Zambia. There were about 50,000 Cuban soldiers and civilians and about 2,000 military and civilian advisers and technicians from the Soviet Union and the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) stationed in Angola. There were also about 10,000 South African refugees, most associated with the antigovernment African National Congress (ANC); 70,000 Namibian refugees, most associated with the South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO); and 13,200 Zairian refugees. There was no officially reported immigration or emigration.

In spite of warfare, poor health care, and the large number of Angolans in exile, the population was growing steadily in the late 1980s. Like population estimates, however, growth rate calculations varied considerably. According to a 1987 estimate by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the growth rate was 3.6 percent. The UN 1986 estimate of 2.7 percent was a good deal lower, while the government, whose demographic estimates typically exceeded those of Western governments and international organizations, announced a 1986 growth rate of almost 4.9 percent. The CIA figured the infant mortality rate in 1987 at 167 per 1,000, and the United States Bureau of the Census calculated the death rate at 21 per 1,000.

According to UN figures, Angola had a very young population. In 1986 the UN estimated that about 46 percent of the population was under age fifteen. At the other end of the age scale, only 4.8 percent of the population was sixty years of age or older. The government estimated the median age at 17.5 years. Life expectancy in 1987, according to United States government sources, was forty-one for males and forty-four for females.

The 1970 census showed the most densely settled areas of Angola to be the plateau, those coastal zones including and adjacent to the cities of Luanda, Lobito, Benguela, and Moçâmedes (present-day Namibe), and the enclave of Cabinda. The most densely settled province in 1970 was Huambo. The other large area of relatively dense settlement included much of Cuanza Norte Province and the southern part of Uíge Province. This area was the major center for coffee cultivation and attracted a number of Europeans and migrant workers. Except for Zaire Province in the far northwest, the most thinly populated areas of Angola lay in its eastern half.

Since the start of the independence struggle in the early 1960s, an almost continuous process of urbanization has taken place. This process was accelerated in the 1980s by the UNITA insurgency, which induced hundreds of thousands of Angolans to leave the countryside for large towns. Angola's urban population grew from 10.3 percent in 1960 to 33.8 percent in 1988 (according to government statistics). Much of the growth occurred in Luanda, whose population more than doubled between 1960 and 1970, and which by 1988 had reached about 1.2 million. Other towns had also acquired larger populations: Huambo grew from less than 100,000 residents in 1975 to almost 1 million in 1987, and Benguela's population increased from 55,000 to about 350,000 over the same period.

After independence in 1975, there were a number of changes in the structure of the population. The first was the exodus of an estimated 350,000 white Portuguese to their homeland. Yet, by 1988 there were an estimated 82,000 whites (representing 1 percent of the population), mostly of Portuguese origin, living in Angola.

The second change was brought about by large-scale population movements, mostly among the Ovimbundu who had migrated in the 1950s and 1960s to work on coffee plantations in northwestern Uíge Province. Panic-stricken by the onset of civil war in 1975, most Ovimbundu workers fled to their ethnic homelands in the central provinces. Another large-scale population movement occurred as many of the Bakongo who had fled to Zaire during the nationalist struggle returned to Angola.

The third and most striking population shift, most notable in the late 1970s and 1980s, had been the flight of increasing numbers of internal migrants out of the central provinces, where the effects of the UNITA insurgency had been most destructive. Most of this massive migration had been toward urban areas. From 1975 to 1988, millions of rural civilians were displaced, including more than 700,000 forced from their villages since 1985 by armed conflict. Many of these migrants relocated to ramshackle displacement camps, many of which were run by West European private voluntary organizations. Although these camps were less vulnerable to attacks by UNITA guerrillas, conditions in them were poor. Food and water were in short supply, and health care was limited.

Many of the displaced persons living in Benguela Province were Ovimbundu from the plateau regions of eastern Benguela and Huambo provinces. The officially registered displaced population of 21,478 in Benguela Province (1988 figure) lived in nine camps and one transit center, but there were probably thousands more living with family members in the province's urban areas, including Lobito and Benguela. The estimated 116,598 displaced persons living in several camps in Cuanza Sul Province had been forced to flee from the province's eastern rural areas or from the plateau regions of Benguela, Huambo, and Bié provinces because of intense guerrilla activity. Because access to many rural areas was limited and sometimes impossible, most of these displaced persons were forced to rely on other local populations and some limited and sporadic outside assistance. Most displaced persons fled from the more fertile and wetter highlands to the less hospitable coastal zone and would be expected to return to their homes when the security situation improved.

In 1988, however, the majority of displaced persons had become integrated into the larger urban population, especially around Luanda. Many displaced persons who sought refuge in urban areas did so through family or other relations to circumvent government registration procedures and so avoid taxation, conscription, or forced resettlement. Consequently, the exact numbers of these people could not be computed. In Luanda much of the destitute population, estimated at 447,000 and mostly consisting of displaced persons, lived in vertical shantytowns (large apartment blocks in the center of the city with inadequate or nonexistent water sources or sanitary facilities) or in huge, maze-like neighborhoods known as musseques, the largest of which housed an estimated 400,000 people.

Updated population figures for Angola.


Although Portuguese was Angola's official language, the great majority of Angolans (more than 95 percent of the total population) used languages of the Bantu family--some closely related, others remotely so--that were spoken by most Africans living south of the equator and by substantial numbers north of it.

Angola's remaining indigenous peoples fell into two disparate categories. A small number, all in southern Angola, spoke so-called Click languages (after a variety of sounds characteristic of them) and differed physically from local African populations. These Click speakers shared characteristics, such as small stature and lighter skin color, linking them to the hunting and gathering bands of southern Africa sometimes referred to by Europeans as Bushmen. The second category consisted of mestiços, largely urban and living in western Angola. Most spoke Portuguese, although some were also acquainted with African languages, and a few may have used such a language exclusively.

<>The Definition of Ethnicity
<>Ethnolinguistic Categories
<>Ovambo, Nyaneka-Humbe, Herero, and Others
<>Hunters, Gatherers, Herders, and Others

Angola - The Definition of Ethnicity

Bantu languages have been categorized by scholars into a number of sets of related tongues. Some of the languages in any set may be more or less mutually intelligible, especially in the areas where speakers of a dialect of one language have had sustained contact with speakers of a dialect of another language. Given the mobility and interpenetration of communities of Bantu speakers over the centuries, transitional languages--for example, those that share characteristics of two tongues--developed in areas between these communities. Frequently, the languages of a set, particularly those with many widely distributed speakers, would be divided into several dialects. In principle, dialects of the same language are considered mutually intelligible, although they are not always so in fact.

Language alone does not define an ethnic group. On the one hand, a set of communities lacking mutually intelligible dialects may for one reason or another come to share a sense of identity in any given historical period. On the other hand, groups sharing a common language or mutually intelligible ones do not necessarily constitute a single group. Thus the Suku--most of them in Zaire but some in Angola -- had a language mutually intelligible with at least some dialects of the Bakongo. However, their historical experience, including a period of domination by Lunda speakers, made the Suku a separate group.

Although common language and culture do not automatically make a common identity, they provide a framework within which such an identity can be forged, given other historical experience. Insofar as common culture implies a set of common perceptions of the way the world works, it permits individuals and groups sharing it to communicate more easily with one another than with those who lack that culture. However, most Angolan groups had, as part of that common culture, the experience and expectation of political fragmentation and intergroup rivalry. That is, because one community shared language and culture with another, political unity or even neutrality did not follow, nor did either community assume that it should. With the exception of the Bakongo and the Lunda, no group had experienced a political cohesion that transcended smaller political units (chiefdoms or, at best, small kingdoms). In the Bakongo case, the early Kongo Kingdom, encompassing most Kikongospeaking communities, had given way by the eighteenth century to politically fragmented entities. In the Lunda case, the empire had been so far-flung and internal conflict had become so great by the nineteenth century that political cohesion was limited.

Very often, the name by which a people has come to be known was given them by outsiders. For example, the name "Mbundu" was first used by the Bakongo. Until such naming, and sometimes long after, the various communities or sections of a set sharing a language and culture were likely to call themselves by other terms, and even when they came to use the all-encompassing name, they tended to reserve it for a limited number of situations. In virtually all colonial territories, Angola included, the naming process and the tendency to treat the named people as a discrete entity distinct from all others became pervasive. The process was carried out by the colonial authorities--sometimes with the help of scholars and missionaries--as part of the effort to understand, deal with, and control local populations. Among other things, the Portuguese tended to treat smaller, essentially autonomous groups as parts of larger entities. As time went on, these populations, particularly the more educated among them, seized upon these names and the communities presumably covered by them as a basis for organizing to improve their status and later for nationalist agitation. Among the first to do so were mestiços in the Luanda area. Although most spoke Portuguese and had a Portuguese male ancestor in their genealogies, the mestiços often spoke Kimbundu as a home language. It is they who, in time, initiated the development of a common Mbundu identity.

In general, then, the development of ethnic consciousness in a group encompassing a large number of communities reflected shifts from the identification of individuals with small-scale units to at least partial identification with larger entities and from relatively porous boundaries between such entities to less permeable ones. But the fact that these larger groups were the precipitates of relatively recent historical conditions suggests that they were not permanently fixed. Changes in these conditions could lead to the dissolution of the boundaries and to group formation on bases other than ethnicity.

In any case, ethnic identities are rarely exclusive; identification with other entities, new or old, also occurs in certain situations because not all sections of a large ethnic group have identical interests. It remained likely that earlier identities would be appealed to in some situations or that new cleavages would surface in others. For example, descent groups or local communities were often involved in competitive relations in the precolonial or colonial eras, and the conditions similar to those giving rise to such competition might still prevail in some areas. In other contexts, younger members of an ethnic group may consider their interests to be different from those of their elders, or a split between urban and rural sections of an ethnic entity may become salient.

In Angola, the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people, especially in the late 1980s, had significant repercussions on ethnic identification. For example, many of those forced to abandon rural areas and traditional ethnic communities for urban dwellings no longer engaged in agricultural activities and the small town life that defined their communities. Instead, they were forced to become urban laborers in ethnically mixed surroundings. Many were compelled by their new circumstances to learn new languages and give up traditional life-styles in order to survive in their new environment.

Angola - Ethnolinguistic Categories

Caveats notwithstanding, a listing of the more commonly used ethnic rubrics and an indication of the dimension of the categories they refer to is useful as a preliminary description of Angola's peoples. The 1970 census did not enumerate the population in ethnic terms. The most recent available count, therefore, is based on projections of the 1960 census. Most projections assume that the rank order of the major ethnolinguistic categories did not change, although the proportions may have done so. In particular, a fairly large segment of the Bakongo of the northwestern provinces of Zaire and Uíge were already refugees in 1970 and were not included in the 1970 census. Although it is not clear how many Bakongo subsequently returned to Angola, it may be assumed that many of them returned and that their relative status as the third largest group was unchanged. The same is true of other ethnic groups whose members fled to Zaire and Zambia in the late 1980s when the insurgency intensified in Angola's border regions. This category would include many Ovimbundu, who have fled from central Angola to Zambia, and many Lunda and Chokwe (also spelled Cokwe), who fled to Zaire from eastern and northern Angola.

Angola - Ovimbundu

The largest ethnolinguistic category, the Ovimbundu, were located in west-central Angola, south of Mbundu-inhabited regions. In 1988 the United States Department of State estimated that they constituted 37 percent of the population. The language of the Ovimbundu was Umbundu.

The core area of the Ovimbundu kingdoms was that part of the Benguela Plateau north of the town of Huambo. Expansion continuing into the twentieth century enlarged their territory considerably, although most Ovimbundu remained in that part of the plateau above 1,200 meters in elevation.

Like most African groups of any size, the Ovimbundu were formed by the mixture of groups of diverse origin (and varying size). Little is known of developments before the seventeenth century, but there is some evidence of additions to the people who occupied the Benguela Plateau at that time. Over time, a number of political entities, usually referred to as kingdoms, were formed. By the eighteenth century, there were twenty-two kingdoms. Thirteen were fully independent; the other nine were largely autonomous but owed tribute to one of the more powerful entities, usually the kingdom of Bailundu, but in some cases Wambu or Ciyaka. By the beginning of the second decade of the twentieth century, effective occupation by the Portuguese had caused a fairly rapid decline in the power of the heads of these kingdoms, but Ovimbundu continued to think of themselves as members of one or another of the groups based on these political units after World War II.

In addition to the groups that clearly spoke dialects of Umbundu, there were two on the periphery of Ovimbundu distribution: the Mbui, who seemed to straddle the linguistic boundary between the Ovimbundu and the Mbundu; and the Dombe living to the west near the coast, whose language was closely related to Umbundu, although not a dialect of it. The Dombe and several other groups, including the Nganda and the Hanya (who, according to one account, spoke Umbundu dialects) relied on cattle raising, as did their southern neighbors, the Herero and the Ovambo. Still others, typically the old tributary kingdoms, came to speak Umbundu relatively recently.

Until the Portuguese established firm control over their territory, the Ovimbundu--particularly those of the major kingdoms of Bailundu (to the northwest), Bihe (to the northeast), and Wambu (in the center)--played important roles as intermediaries in the slave, ivory, and beeswax trades, acting as carriers, entrepreneurs, and raiders. With the decline of the slave trade in the last decades of the nineteenth century, the entrepreneurs among the Ovimbundu turned to the rubber trade, abandoning the warfare and raiding that had hitherto been integrally related to their economic activities. The rubber slump at the beginning of the twentieth century, the end of the de facto autonomy of their kingdoms not long after, and the displacement of Ovimbundu traders by the Portuguese forced these people to turn to cash-crop agriculture. (The men had hitherto had little involvement with cultivation; in fact, the women continued to be responsible for the cultivation of subsistence crops.)

The introduction of cash crops, particularly coffee, led to a series of changes in settlement patterns and social arrangements. But after a time, soil exhaustion, lack of support of African agriculture by the colonial authorities, incursions of Portuguese settlers who took over valuable property in the highlands, and a number of other factors contributed to a decline in the success of Ovimbundu cash-crop agriculture. By the early 1960s, up to 100,000 Ovimbundu, estimated at one-quarter of the group's able-bodied adult males, were migrating on one-year and two-year labor contracts to the coffee plantations of Uíge and Cuanza Norte provinces; another 15,000 to 20,000 sought work in Luanda and Lobito; and roughly the same number worked in the industrial plants of Huambo or for European farmers in the Benguela Plateau. In most cases, remuneration was low, but these migrant workers had little alternative. This pattern continued through the remainder of the colonial period, except for those males who were involved in nationalist activity (usually with UNITA).

In the 1940s, the Ovimbundu organized what was probably the most closely knit Angolan community of the colonial era. With the financial and ideological aid of North American Christian missionaries, they established a network of Christian villages, each with its own leadership, schools, churches, and clinics. They were thus able to maintain the Ovimbundu culture while providing educational and social amenities for their children. The generation that emerged out of this structure became the disciples of Jonas Savimbi and the basis for UNITA, which in the 1980s used the same concepts to maintain Ovimbundu cohesiveness within UNITA-controlled areas.

Given the degree of change in Ovimbundu society and the involvement of the Ovimbundu with UNITA, it was difficult to determine their long-range role in Angolan politics. Just how long Ovimbundu solidarity would persist under changing circumstances could not be predicted.

Angola - Mbundu

Just north of Ovimbundu territory lived the Mbundu, the second largest ethnolinguistic category, whose language was Kimbundu. In 1988 they made up an estimated 25 percent of the Angolan population. In the sixteenth century, most of the groups that came to be known as Mbundu (a name apparently first applied by the neighboring Bakongo) lived well to the east of the coast in the plateau region (at a somewhat lower altitude than the Ovimbundu); a few groups in the far northeast lived at altitudes below 700 meters. In general, the outlines of the area occupied by the Mbundu had remained the same. The major exception was their expansion of this area to parts of the coast formerly occupied by Bakongo and others.

Although most of the boundaries of Mbundu territory remained fairly firm, the social and linguistic boundaries of the category had shifted, some of the peripheral groups having been variably influenced by neighboring groups and the groups close to the coast having been more strongly influenced by the Portuguese than were the more remote ones. Moreover, the subdivisions discernible for the sixteenth century (and perhaps earlier) also changed in response to a variety of social and linguistic influences in the colonial period. The Mbundu in general and the western Mbundu in particular, located as they were not far from Luanda, were susceptible to those influences for a longer time and in a more intense way than were other Angolan groups.

There were a number of Kimbundu dialects and groups. Two, each incorporating Portuguese terms, gradually became dominant, serving as lingua francas for many Mbundu. The western dialect was centered in Luanda, to which many Mbundu had migrated over the years. The people speaking it, largely urban, had come to call themselves Ambundu or Akwaluanda, thus distinguishing themselves from rural Mbundu. The eastern dialect, known as Ambakista, had its origins in the eighteenth century in a mixed Portuguese-Mbundu trading center at Ambaca near the western edge of the plateau region, but it spread in the nineteenth century through much of eastern Mbundu territory. Another Kimbundu-speaking group, the Dembos, were generally included in the Mbundu category. Living north of Luanda, they had also been strongly influenced by Kikongo speakers.

By the late 1960s, the Mbundu living in the cities, such as Luanda and Malanje, had adopted attributes of Portuguese lifestyle . Many had intermarried with Portuguese, which led to the creation of an entirely new class of mestiços. Those who received formal education and fully adopted Portuguese customs became assimilados.

The Mbundu were the MPLA's strongest supporters when the movement first formed in 1956. The MPLA's president, Agostinho Neto, was the son of a Mbundu Methodist pastor and a graduate of a Portuguese medical school. In the 1980s, the Mbundu were predominant in Luanda, Bengo, Cuanza Norte, Malanje, and northern Cuanza Sul provinces.

Angola - Bakongo

The Kikongo-speaking Bakongo made up an estimated 15 percent of the Angolan population. In 1988 the Bakongo were the third largest ethnolinguistic group in Angola. Concentrated in Uíge, Zaire, and Cabinda provinces, where they constituted a majority of the population, the Bakongo spilled over into the nation of Zaire (where they were the largest single ethnic group) and Congo. Although the Angolan city of São Salvador (renamed Mbanza Congo) was the capital of their ancient kingdom, most of the Bakongo were situated in Zaire.

Their former political unity long broken, the various segments of the ethnolinguistic category in Angola experienced quite different influences in the colonial period. The Bashikongo, living near the coast, had the most sustained interaction with the Portuguese but were less affected by participation in the coffee economy than the Sosso and Pombo, who were situated farther east and south. All three groups, however, were involved in the uprising of 1961. The Pombo, still farther east but close to the Zairian border, were much influenced by developments in the Belgian Congo (present-day Zaire), and a large contingent of Pombo living in Léopoldville (present-day Kinshasa) formed a political party in the early 1950s. The Solongo, dwelling on the relatively dry coastal plain, had little contact with the Portuguese. They and the Ashiluanda of the island of Luanda, to the south, were Angola's only African sea fishermen.

The Mayombe (also spelled Maiombe) of the mountain forests of Cabinda spoke a dialect of Kikongo but were not part of the ancient kingdom. That part of the Mayombe living in Zaire did join with the Zairian Bakongo in the Alliance of Bakongo (Alliance des Bakongo-- Abako) during the period of party formation in the Belgian Congo, but the Cabindan Mayombe (and other Kikongo-speaking groups in the enclave), relatively remote geographically and culturally from the Bakongo of Angola proper, showed no solidarity with the latter. Instead, in 1961 the Mayombe formed a Cabindan separatist movement, the Alliance of Mayombe (Alliance de Mayombe--Alliama), which merged with two other Cabindan separatist movements in 1963 to form the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (Frente para a Libertação do Enclave de Cabinda--FLEC).

One of the first major revolts of the nationalist struggle was instigated by Bakongo in March 1961 in the northwest. The Portuguese crushed the peasant attack, organized by the Bakongo group, the Union of Angolan Peoples (União das Populações de Angola -- UPA), on their settlements, farms, and administrative outposts. Subsequently, 400,000 Bakongo fled into Zaire. In 1962 the UPA formed the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (Frente Nacional de Libertação de Angola -- FNLA), which became one of the three major nationalist groups (the other two being the MPLA and UNITA) involved in the long and bloody war of independence. Most of the FNLA's traditional Bakongo constituency fled into exile in Zaire during the war. Following independence, however, many Bakongo exiles returned to their traditional homesteads in Angola. They had since retained their ethnolinguistic integrity.

Angola - Lunda-Chokwe

The hyphenated category Lunda-Chokwe constituted an estimated 8 percent of the Angolan population in 1988. As the hyphenation implies, the category comprises at least two subsets, the origins of which are known to be different and the events leading to their inclusion in a single set are recent. The Lunda alone were a congeries of peoples brought together in the far-flung Lunda Empire (seventeenth century to nineteenth century) under the hegemony of a people calling themselves Ruund, its capital in the eastern section of Zaire's Katanga Province (present-day Shaba Province). Lunda is the form of the name used for the Ruund and for themselves by adjacent peoples to the south who came under Ruund domination. In some sources, the Ruund are called Northern Lunda, and their neighbors are called Southern Lunda. The most significant element of the latter, called Ndembu (or Ndembo), lived in Zaire and Zambia. In Angola the people with whom the northward-expanding Chokwe came into contact were chiefly Ruund speakers. The economic and political decline of the empire by the second half of the nineteenth century and the demarcation of colonial boundaries ended Ruund political domination over those elements beyond the Zairian borders.

The Chokwe, until the latter half of the nineteenth century a small group of hunters and traders living near the headwaters of the Cuango and Cassai rivers, were at the southern periphery of the Lunda Empire and paid tribute to its head. In the latter half of the nineteenth century, the Chokwe became increasingly involved in trading and raiding, and they expanded in all directions, but chiefly to the north, in part absorbing the Ruund and other peoples. In the late nineteenth century, the Chokwe went so far as to invade the capital of the much-weakened empire in Katanga. As a consequence of this Chokwe activity, a mixed population emerged in parts of Zaire as well as in Angola, although there were virtually homogenous communities in both countries consisting of Chokwe, Ruund, or Southern Lunda.

The intermingling of Lunda (Ruund and Southern Lunda) and Chokwe, in which other smaller groups were presumably also caught up, continued until about 1920. It was only after that time that the mixture acquired the hyphenated label and its members began to think of themselves (in some contexts) as one people.

The languages spoken by the various elements of the so-called Lunda-Chokwe were more closely related to each other than to other Bantu languages in the Zairian-Angolan savanna but were by no means mutually intelligible. The three major tongues (Ruund, Lunda, and Chokwe) had long been distinct from each other, although some borrowing of words, particularly of Ruund political titles by the others, had occurred.

Portuguese anthropologists and some others accepting their work have placed some of the peoples (Minungu and Shinji) in this area with the Mbundu, and the Minungu language is sometimes considered a transitional one between Kimbundu and Chokwe. There may in fact have been important Mbundu influence on these two peoples, but the work of a number of linguists places their languages firmly with the set that includes Ruund, Lunda, and Chokwe.

Economic and political developments in the 1970s affected various sections of the Lunda-Chokwe differently. Substantial numbers of them live in or near Lunda Norte Province, which contains the principal diamond mines of Angola. Diamond mining had been significant since 1920, and preindependence data show that the industry employed about 18,000 persons. Moreover, the mining company provided medical and educational facilities for its employees and their dependents, thereby affecting even greater numbers. How many of those employed were Lunda-Chokwe is not clear, although neighboring villages would have been affected by the presence of the mining complex in any case. In the intra-Angolan political conflict preceding and immediately following independence, there apparently was some division between the northern Lunda-Chokwe, especially those with some urban experience, who tended to support the MPLA, and the rural Chokwe, particularly those farther south, who tended to support UNITA. In the 1980s, as the UNITA insurgency intensified in the border areas of eastern and northern Angola, Lunda-Chokwe families were forced to flee into Zaire's Shaba Province, where many remained in 1988, living in three sites along the Benguela Railway. The impact of this move on the ethnolinguistic integrity of these people was not known.

A somewhat different kind of political impact began in the late 1960s, when refugees from Katanga in Zaire, speakers of Lunda or a related language, crossed the border into what are now Lunda Sul and northern Moxico provinces. In 1977 and 1978, these refugees and others whom they had recruited formed the National Front for the Liberation of the Congo (Front National pour la Libération du Congo--FNLC) and used the area as a base from which they launched their invasions of Shaba Province. In the 1980s, these rebels and perhaps still other refugees remained in Angola, many in Lunda Sul Province, although the Angolan government as part of its rapprochement with Zaire was encouraging them to return to their traditional homes. The Zairian government offered amnesty to political exiles on several occasions in the late 1980s and conferred with the Angolan government on the issue of refugees. In 1988, however, a significant number of Zairian refugees continued to inhabit LundaChokwe territory. The significance for local Lunda-Chokwe of the presence and activities of these Zairians was not known.

Angola - Nganguela

Nganguela (also spelled Ganguela) is a term, pejorative in connotation, applied by the Ovimbundu to the peoples living east and southeast of them. The essentially independent groups constituting what was no more than a Portuguese census category was split by southward penetration of the Chokwe in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. Only two groups in the western section of the territory accepted the name Nganguela; the others carried names such as Lwena (or Lovale), Mbunda, and Luchazi--all in the eastern division. The Lwena and Luchazi, roughly equal in number, constituted about a third of the census category of Nganguela, which in 1988 accounted for an estimated 6 percent of the Angolan population.

Unlike the farming peoples who numerically dominated the larger ethnolinguistic categories, the groups in the western division of the Nganguela were cattle raisers as well as cultivators. Those in the eastern division near the headwaters of the Zambezi River and its tributaries also relied on fishing.

All the groups included in the Nganguela ethnolinguistic category spoke languages apparently related to those spoken by the Ruund, Southern Lunda, and Chokwe. Lwena and Chokwe, although not mutually intelligible, were probably more closely related than Chokwe was to Ruund or Lunda. Except for sections of the Lwena, during the time of kingdoms most of these peoples were outside the periphery of Lunda influence, and some (in the western division) were affected by Ovimbundu activity, including slave raiding.

Of the ethnolinguistic categories treated thus far, the Nganguela have had the least social or political significance in the past or in modern times. For the most part thinly scattered in an inhospitable territory, split by the southern expansion of the Chokwe, and lacking the conditions for even partial political centralization, let alone unification, the groups constituting the category went different ways when nationalist activity gave rise to political movements based in part on regional and ethnic considerations. The western division, adjacent to the Ovimbundu, was most heavily represented in the Ovimbundu-dominated UNITA. Some of the groups in the eastern divisions were represented in the MPLA-PTA, which Mbundu and mestiços dominated, although the Lwena, neighbors of and related to the Chokwe, tended to support UNITA.

In the 1980s, the spread of the UNITA insurgency into the Nganuela-inhabited area adjacent to the Zambian border led to the flight of many Nganguela families into Zambia. The extent of this flight and its effects on the ethnolinguistic integrity of the Nganguela were unknown.

Angola - Ovambo, Nyaneka-Humbe, Herero, and Others

In far southwestern Angola, three categories of Bantu-speaking peoples have been distinguished. Two of them, the Ovambo and the Herero, were more heavily represented elsewhere: the Ovambo in Namibia and the Herero in Namibia and Botswana. The Herero dispersion, especially that section of it in Botswana, was the consequence of the migration of the Herero from German South West Africa (present-day Namibia) after their rebellion against German rule in 1906. The third group was the Nyaneka-Humbe. Unlike the other groups, the Nyaneka-Humbe did not disperse outside Angola. In 1988 the Nyaneka-Humbe (the first group is also spelled Haneca; the latter group is also spelled Nkumbi) constituted 3 percent of the population. The Ovambo, of which the largest subgroup were the Kwanhama (also spelled Kwanyama), made up an estimated 2 percent of the Angolan population. In the second half of the nineteenth century, the Kwanhama Kingdom of southern Angola was a powerful state involved in a lucrative trade relationship with the Portuguese, who, together with the Germans, occupied Kwanhama territory in the early twentieth century. In the 1980s, the Ovambo were seminomadic cattle herders and farmers. The Herero constituted no more than 0.5 percent of the population in 1988. Traditionally, the Herero were nomadic or seminomadic herders living in the arid coastal lowlands and in the mountainous escarpment to the east in Namibe, Benguela, and Huíla provinces. Many Herero migrated south to Namibia when the Portuguese launched a military expedition against them in 1940 following their refusal to pay taxes.

In the southeastern corner of the country the Portuguese distinguished a set of Bantu-speaking people, described on a map prepared by José Redinha in 1973 as the Xindonga. The sole linguistic group listed in this category was the Cussu. The Language Map of Africa, prepared under the direction of David Dalby for the International African Institute, noted two sets of related languages in southeastern Angola. The first set included Liyuwa, Mashi, and North Mbukushu. These languages and other members of the set were also found in Zambia and Namibia. The members of the second set, Kwangali-Gcikuru and South Mbukushu, were also found in Namibia and Botswana. The hyphen between Kwangali and Gcikuru implies mutual intelligibility. Little is known of these groups; in any case, their members were very few.

All of these southern Angolan groups relied in part or in whole on cattle raising for subsistence. Formerly, the Herero were exclusively herders, but they gradually came to engage in some cultivation. Although the Ovambo had depended in part on cultivation for a much longer time, dairy products had been an important source of subsistence, and cattle were the chief measure of wealth and prestige.

The southwestern groups, despite their remoteness from the major centers of white influence during most of the colonial period, were to varying degrees affected by the colonial presence and, after World War II, by the arrival of numbers of Portuguese in such places as Moçâmedes (present-day Namibe) and Sá da Bandeira (present-day Lubango). The greatest resistance to the Portuguese was offered by the Ovambo, who were not made fully subject to colonial rule until 1915 and who earned a considerable reputation among the Portuguese and other Africans for their efforts to maintain their independence. In the nationalist struggle of the 1960s and early 1970s and in the postindependence civil war, the Ovambo tended to align themselves with the Ovimbundu-dominated UNITA. Many also sympathized with the cause of SWAPO, a mostly Ovambo organization fighting to liberate Namibia from South African rule.

Angola - Hunters, Gatherers, Herders, and Others

Scattered throughout the lower third of Angola, chiefly in the drier areas, were small bands of people. Until the twentieth century, most of them were nomadic hunters and gatherers, although some engaged in herding, either in addition to their other subsistence activities or as their chief means of livelihood. Those who survived turned, at least in part, to cultivation.

The bands living a nomadic or seminomadic life in Cuando Cubango Province (and occasionally reaching as far east as the upper Cunene River) differed physically and linguistically from their sedentary Bantu-speaking neighbors. Short, saffron-colored, and in other respects physically unlike the Nganguela, Ovambo, and Nyaneka-Humbe, they spoke a language of the !Xu-Angola or Maligo set of tongues referred to as Khoisan or Click languages (the exclamation point denotes a specific kind of click), whose precise relations to each other are not yet fully understood by observers.

Several other hunting and gathering or herding groups, the members of which were taller and otherwise physically more like the local Bantu speakers, lived farther west, adjacent to the Ovambo and Herero. These people spoke Bantu languages and were less nomadic than the Khoisan speakers, but they were clearly different from the Ovambo and Herero and probably preceded them in the area.

Angola - Mesticos

In 1960 a little more than 1 percent of the total population of Angola consisted of mesticos. It has been estimated that by 1970 these people constituted perhaps 2 percent of the population. Some mesticos left at independence, but the departure of much greater numbers of Portuguese probably resulted in an increase in the proportion of mesticos in the Angolan total. In 1988 mesticos probably continued to number about 2 percent of the Angolan population.

The process of mixing started very early and continued until independence. But it was not until about 1900, when the number of Portuguese in Angola was very small and consisted almost entirely of males, that the percentage of mesticos in the population exceeded the percentage of whites.

After a number of generations, the antecedents of many mesticos became mixed to the extent that the Portuguese felt a need to establish a set of distinctions among them. Many mesticos accepted this system as a means of social ranking. One source suggests that the term mestico used alone in a social context applied specifically to the offspring of a mulatto and a white; the term mestico cabrito referred to the descendant of a union between two mulattos; and the term mestico cafuso was applied to the child of a union between a mulatto and a black African. It is possible that an even more complex set of distinctions was sometimes used.

Most mesticos were urban dwellers and had learned to speak Portuguese either as a household language or in school. Although some of the relatively few rural mesticos lived like the Africans among whom they dwelt, most apparently achieved the status of assimilados, the term applied before 1961 to those nonwhites who fulfilled certain specific requirements and were therefore registered as Portuguese citizens.

With some exceptions, mesticos tended to identify with Portuguese culture, and their strongly voiced opposition over the years to the conditions imposed by the colonial regime stressed their rights to a status equivalent to that of whites. Before World War II, only occasionally did mestico intellectuals raise their voices on behalf of the African population. Thus, despite the involvement of mesticos in the nationalist struggle beginning in 1961 and their very important role in the upper echelons of the government and party, significant segments of the African population tended to resent them. This legacy continued in the late 1980s because mesticos dominated the MPLA-PT hierarchy.

Starting in the late 1970s, an average of 50,000 Cuban troops and civilian technical personnel (the overwhelming majority of whom were male) were stationed in Angola. As a result, a portion of the nation's younger population was undoubtedly of mixed African and Cuban descent. This new category of racial mixture, however, had not been described by researchers as of late 1988, and no figures existed on how many Angolans might fall into this category.


The most pervasive influences on the structure of Angolan society in the late 1980s were the Marxist-Leninist policies of the government and increased militarization to counter the UNITA insurgency. Based on the principle that the party, the working class, and the worker-peasant alliance played a leading role in society, Marxist-Leninist policies were applied in the late 1970s to every sector of society and the economy, affecting the lives of urban and rural inhabitants alike. Direct military actions had the greatest effect on those living in the central and southern provinces, causing large displacements of whole groups of people and the creation of a substantial refugee population in Zambia and Zaire. Moreover, thousands of young men and women were conscripted into the Angolan armed forces, while many thousands of older citizens served in militias and civil defense units. In regard to the direct effects of war, press reports in 1988 estimated that since 1975 the insurgency had claimed from 60,000 to 90,000 lives and had orphaned an estimated 10,000 children. The U.S. Committee for Refugees reported that by 1988 about 20,000 Angolans, mostly women and children, had been crippled by mines buried in rural fields and roads.

Angola - Social Structure in Rural Communities

The crucial social units in rural systems were villages (or other forms of local community) and groups based on common descent, actual or putative. These were basic entities, even if subject to change in form and function in the period preceding the Portuguese incursion and during the centuries when Portugal exercised only indirect influence in the interior. Throughout these hundreds of years, changes in the structure of rural political and economic systems had their impact on rural communities and kin groups, but rural community organization and the organization of kin groups, often linked, remained the most significant elements in the lives of ordinary Africans.

In general, the connection between a rural community and a descent group (or some other kin-based set of persons) lay in the fact that the core of each community consisted of a descent group of some kind. Others in the community were tied to the members of the group by marriage or, in an earlier period, by a slave or client relationship, the effects of which may well have survived the formal abolition of slavery, as they have elsewhere. Typically, neighboring villages were tied together either because their core groups were made up of members of related descent groups (or different segments of a larger descent group) or, in some cases, by fairly frequent intermarriage among members of a limited set of villages.

Traditionally, descent groups in Angola are matrilineal; that is, they include all persons descended from a common female ancestor through females, although the individuals holding authority are, with rare exceptions, males. In some cases, junior males inherit from (or succeed to a position held by) older brothers; in others, males inherit from their mother's brother. Patrilineal descent groups, whose members are descended from a male ancestor through males, apparently have occurred in only a few groups in Angola and have been reported only in conjunction with matrilineal groups, a comparatively rare phenomenon referred to as a double descent system.

It must be emphasized that even where double descent systems did not exist, kin traced through the father were important as individuals in systems in which group formation was based on matrilineal descent. In some cases, the Bakongo for example, an individual would be tied through his father to the latter's matrilineage, appropriate members of which have an important say in aspects of that individual's life.

Broadly speaking, matrilineal descent groups alone have been reported for the Bakongo (but are well described only for some of the Zairian Bakongo), the Mbundu, the Chokwe, and the Ovambo, but their occurrence is probable elsewhere. A double descent system has been reported for Angola's largest ethnolinguistic group, the Ovimbundu, and might also be found among some of the southern groups.

The structure and workings of the double descent system of the Ovimbundu had not been adequately described as of 1988. In any case, ethnographic studies made in the middle of the twentieth century suggest that patrilineal groups as such (as opposed to links with the father and some of his kin) had virtually disappeared and that matrilineal groups had, by and large, lost most of their significance as a result of major changes in patterns of economic activity.

Descent groups vary in size, degree of localization, function, and degree of internal segmentation. In the kinds of groups commonly called clans, the links between a putative common ancestor and the living cannot be traced, and no effort is made to do so. Such groups are larger in scope than the units into which they are divided, although they need not have many members in absolute terms. They are rarely localized, and their members may be widely dispersed. Clans have not been widely reported in Angola. The only large ethnic category in which they have been said to exist is the Bakongo. Even among the Bakongo, the clans do not seem to have had political or economic functions.

More typical of traditional Angolan communities have been the kinds of descent groups usually called lineages, in most cases matrilineages. Among such descent groups, the common ancestor is not so remote, and genealogical links can be traced to her. Structurally, lineages of greater depth (for example, those five to seven generations in depth from ancestor to most recent generation) may be further segmented into shallower lineages (perhaps three to four generations in depth), lineages at each level having different functions. This structure seems to have been the case among the Bakongo. There, the deeper unit controlled the allocation of land and performed tasks connected with that crucial function, whereas shallower lineages controlled matters such as marriage.

Another important aspect of rural community life was the role of traditional leaders. After the outbreak of African opposition to colonial rule in the early 1960s, most local leaders were, if not loyal to the Portuguese, reluctant to support the nationalist movements. The MPLA, in particular, was urban based and therefore had little contact with local leaders in rural areas. Following independence, however, and most markedly in the 1980s, the government recognized the necessity of gaining the support of rural peasants to counter the spreading influence of UNITA. Thus, party officials began appointing local leaders to district or local committees, thereby reassigning to them a significant role in the local political hierarchy.

Angola - Ovimbundu Social Structure

Before the twentieth century, neither matrilineage nor patrilineage dominated Ovimbundu society. Economic matters, such as property rights, seem to have been linked to the matrilineage, while political authority was passed through the patrilineage. The lineage system declined in the twentieth century, as more and more Europeans settled on the highly arable plateau. The results were land shortage and commercialization that loosened the control either lineage system might have over what had become the primary resource in the Ovimbundu economy. By the mid-1950s, terms formerly used for the patrilineal and matrilineal descent groups were still heard, but they no longer referred to a cohesive group. They were applied instead to individual patrilineal and matrilineal relatives. Significantly, the Portuguese term familia had also come into use by this time.

The development of cash-crop agriculture and changes in land tenure, in combination with inadequate soils and Ovimbundu agricultural techniques, led to soil depletion and the need by nuclear families for increasingly extensive holdings. Nucleated villages, consequently, became less and less feasible.

Increasingly, particularly in the coffee-growing area, the homestead was no longer part of the nucleated village, although dispersed homesteads in a given area were defined as constituting a village. The degree of dispersal varied, but the individual family, detached from the traditional community, tended to become the crucial unit. Where either Protestants or Roman Catholics were sufficiently numerous, the church and school rather than the descent group became the focus of social and sometimes of political life. In at least one study of a section of the Ovimbundu, it was found that each entity defined as a village consisted almost exclusively of either Protestants or Roman Catholics.

But given the problems of soil depletion and, in some areas, of land shortage, not all Ovimbundu could succeed as cash-crop farmers. A substantial number of them thus found it necessary to go to other regions (and even other countries) as wage workers. Consequently, some households came to consist of women and children for long periods.

In 1967 the colonial authorities, concerned by the political situation east of the Ovimbundu and fearing the spread of rebellion to the plateau regions, gathered the people into large villages to control them better and, in theory at least, to provide better social and economic services. The Ovimbundu, accustomed to dispersed settlement, strongly resented the practice. Among other things, they feared that the land they were forced to abandon would be taken over by Europeans (which in some cases did happen).

By 1970 compulsory resettlement had been abolished in part of Ovimbundu territory and reduced elsewhere. Then the Portuguese instituted a rural advisory service and encouraged the formation of what they called agricultural clubs. The old term for matrilineal descent group was sometimes applied to these organizations, which were intended to manage credits for Ovimbundu peasants. These units, however, were based on common interest, although traces of kin connections sometimes affected their operation, as did the relations between ordinary Ovimbundu and local rulers. Moreover, conflict within the group often took the form of accusations of sorcery. The effects on these units of independence, the stripping away of the advisory service, and the early years of the UNITA insurgency were unknown. It is unlikely, however, that the Ovimbundu took to enforced cooperation or collectivization easily.

The effects of the UNITA insurgency on Ovimbundu life were extensive and frequently devastating. Much of the fighting between government troops and UNITA forces, especially in the 1980s, took place on Ovimbundu-occupied territory. Largely dependent on agriculture, Ovimbundu village life was seriously disrupted, and large numbers of Ovimbundu were forced to flee, abandoning their traditions along with their homes.

As UNITA gained control over a growing area in southeast Angola, however, the organization tried to preserve the integrity of Ovimbundu life-style and customs. UNITA established a series of military bases throughout the southeast that served as administrative centers for the surrounding regions. Under Ovimbundu leadership, the bases provided educational, social, economic, and health services to the population, operating much like the village system on the central plateau. To what extent this system preserved at least some aspects of Ovimbundu traditional life in the late 1980s was unknown.

Angola - Mbundu Social Structure

Among the Mbundu, the matrilineage survived centuries of change in other institutions. Membership in and loyalty to it was of great importance. The lineage supported the individual in material and nonmaterial ways because most land was lineage domain, access to it required lineage membership, and communication between the living and their ancestors, crucial to traditional religion, was mediated through the lineage.

The Mbundu lineage differed from Bakongo and Ovimbundu groups in its underlying theory; it consisted not of individuals but of statuses or titles filled by living persons. In this system, a Mbundu could move from one status to another, thus acquiring a different set of relationships. How, in fact, this theoretical system affected interpersonal relationships between biological kin has not been described, however.

The Mbundu matrilineage was in some respects a dispersed unit, but a core group maintained a lineage village to which its members returned, either at a particular stage in their lives or for brief visits. Women went to the villages of their husbands, and their children were raised there. The girls, as their mothers had done, then joined their own husbands. The young men, however, went to the lineage village to join their mothers' brothers. The mothers' brothers and their sisters' sons formed the more or less permanent core of the lineage community, visited from time to time by the women of the lineage who, as they grew old, might come to live the rest of their lives there. After a time, when the senior mother's brother who headed the matrilineage died, some of the younger men would go off to found their own villages. A man then became the senior male in a new lineage, the members of which would be his sisters and his sisters' sons. One of these younger men might, however, remain in the old village and succeed the senior mother's brother in the latter's status and take on his role completely, thus perpetuating the older lineage. According to one account, the functioning lineage probably has a genealogical depth of three to four generations: a man, his sister's adult sons, and the latter's younger but married sister's sons. How this unit encompasses the range of statuses characteristic of the matrilineage in Mbundu theory is not altogether clear.

Angola - Social Structure in Urban Areas

Whatever the kind and degree of change in the workings of lineage and community in rural Angola, research in the musseques of Luanda showed that the lineage system had little significance there. Musseques are settlements in and around Luanda (and some of the other big towns) in which many of the urban poor live. Residents of the settlements in Luanda were predominantly of Mbundu origin. In the 1980s, the settlements became the refuge of hundreds of thousands of displaced persons.

Some of the inhabitants of the musseques worked regularly in manual jobs, but others were employed only intermittently, and still others would go jobless for long periods. The variation in the material circumstances of males in particular affected the composition of the households. Ideally, and often in fact, the household consisted of a man and a woman, living in a union legally or otherwise sanctioned, and their children. Occasionally, another kinsman or kinswoman was part of the unit. In the 1980s, with the influx of the rural displaced, additional kin or acquaintances were probably also becoming part of many of the family units.

The man was expected to assume the primary responsibility for supporting the household and to provide, if possible, for the education of the children, although others sometimes contributed. Given the economic circumstances of most of these men, the burden sometimes became overwhelming, and some men reacted by leaving the household. This reaction accounted, with some exceptions, for the presence of female heads of households.

In the 1980s, an important effect of extended kinship ties was the expectation of migrants from rural areas that they could turn first to their kin already in place for at least temporary housing and other aid. The tendency was to look to heads of households who were of the same matrilineage, but that practice was not universal. Moreover, it did not signify that the matrilineage had been transplanted to the musseques. The relationship between the head of the household and the newly arrived migrant was that between two individuals. The urban situation did not provide the conditions for the functioning of the matrilineage as a social, political, and economic unit.

Given the combination of the nuclear family household, the absence of matrilineages, and the relative ethnic homogeneity of the musseques of Luanda, the organization of permanent or temporary groups engaged in social or political activity and the formation of interpersonal relationships were likely to be based directly on economic concerns or on other common interests arising out of the urban situation. Elsewhere, such concerns and interests were often mediated by or couched in terms of considerations of ethnicity or kinship.

Angola - Effects of Socialist Policies

Beginning in late 1977 with the First Party Congress of the MPLA, at which the conversion of the MPLA to a vanguard party was announced, party leaders attempted to define the kind of society and economy they wished to develop. The process of definition was by no means systematic and often simply drew on Marxist-Leninist clichés borrowed from the Soviet model. Nevertheless, from time to time statements of either purpose or criticism focused on specific features and problems of Angolan society as these leaders saw them. Sometimes, the solutions offered appeared to have conflicting implications.

Running through the statements of leaders and editorials in Angola's largest newspaper, Jornal de Angola, and other party and state publications were frequent and strong references to the need to eliminate all signs of ethnicity, regionalism, and racism. On several occasions, the statements and editorials asserted that ethnicity and regionalism were not the same, but their differences were not spelled out. Because there is a link between ethnolinguistic category and location, the differential effects on behavior of ethnicity and regionalism are often difficult to determine.

At the same time that the party cautioned against racism (the reference is to mestiços and to those Portuguese who remained in Angola after independence), it also discouraged attitudes of superiority. Presumably, this was an allusion not only to the preindependence attitudes of Portuguese and mestiços but also to those of urban, educated Africans, who would in former times have been called assimilados. In fact, it is unlikely that the Portuguese in the party would act in the style of the Portuguese colonial official or settler, but some mestiços, uncommitted ideologically, might act in such a way; educated Africans, secure in their racial situation, were even more likely to exhibit a sense of superiority to ordinary Africans. The sensitivity of the party to popular perceptions about racism and attitudes of superiority were partly responsible for attempts in the 1980s by the dos Santos regime to remove from the top party echelons a number of mestiços, who dominated the party structure, and replace them with a more ethnically diverse group.

In the 1980s, there was a significant shift of attitude on the part of government and party officials toward private enterprise and what the party had previously labeled "petite bourgeoisie." In the 1970s, the term was widely and pejoratively used to discourage individuals from activities in which they could accumulate personal wealth. Although self-aggrandizement was still discouraged, the party recognized that economic and agricultural centralization had failed as development strategies and that movement toward private enterprise would be necessary to boost domestic production, increase the supply of goods available to the Angolan population, and generally improve the economic picture.

The implications of these policy changes for the structure of society, including economic support for individual peasant farmers and an increase in the role of private traders, were extensive. Where the party once discouraged the existence of an entrepreneurial bourgeoisie both in urban and in rural Angola, some observers believed that efforts to develop the country and come to grips with its economic and technical problems might generate not only a bureaucratic middle class and elite but also a business middle class less amenable to control than a salaried state bourgeoisie.

Angola - Policies Affecting Rural Society

Prior to independence, most peasants engaged in subsistence farming and cattle herding, whereas commercial farms and plantations, which produced most of the cash crops, were owned and operated primarily by Portuguese settlers. Although most farmers and herders consumed most of what they produced, those who did market some of their output depended on Portuguese bush traders. A barter system developed through which agricultural produce was exchanged for agricultural supplies and consumer goods from the cities. This entire system collapsed with the sudden departure of the Portuguese farms and bush traders at independence.

The government acted immediately by transforming the abandoned commercial farms into state farms, all of which were large and understaffed. The lack of personnel with managerial and technical skills, the breakdown of machinery, and the unwillingness of peasants to work for wages soon eroded the experiment in nationalization, and by the early 1980s much of the land was appropriated for individual family farming.

The government proceeded cautiously in its dealings with the peasants, recognizing that productivity had to take priority over ideology. Thus, instead of immediately collectivizing land, the government formed farming cooperatives, but this too failed because of the government's inability to replace the function of the Portuguese bush traders, despite the establishment of a barter system managed by two state companies. By the early 1980s, most peasants, having never received from the state any promised goods, returned to subsistence farming and their traditional way of life.

A shift in agricultural policy began in 1984 that may have provided the basis for a fundamental change in rural life in the future. The goal was to restore a flow of farm surplus products to urban areas and reduce dependence on imports. Along with the dissolution of the state farms, the government began setting up agricultural development stations to provide assistance to farmers in the form of technical advice, equipment, and seeds and fertilizer. In 1988 these measures were gradually reversing the decline in agricultural production for the market in the few provinces unaffected by the UNITA insurgency.

Angola - Policies Affecting Urban Society

Many of the difficult economic conditions existing in Angola's cities and towns were the result of the UNITA insurgency, including the almost total disruption of the transportation system necessary to carry produce from rural to urban areas. However, by the late 1980s the government had recognized that much could be blamed on the cumbersome and ineffective mechanisms of the centralized economy. In 1988 the government, faced with the continuing decline of the manufacturing sector, began to move away from state-controlled companies and promised to enact new laws that would make private ownership possible.

The impact of the changes in economic policy were not immediately apparent in Luanda in 1988. The only two sources of goods for the capital's population were rationed and poorly stocked state stores and the parallel market, where the local currency was accepted at only a fraction of its face value. Many foreign businesses were giving their Angolan employees credit at a government supermarket where they could buy food. Some foreign businesses set up their own stores in which their employees could shop. The largest parallel market operation in Luanda, Roque Santeiro, was only one of many that depended on European shipments for products such as clothing, watches, medicine, and tape players, as well as food. There was some indication that goods were also bought by insiders at state stores and resold at many times the price in the parallel market. Despite official rhetoric, the government recognized its inability to provide basic goods to the population and seldom interfered with parallel market activities.

Physical living conditions in Luanda were deplorable in 1988. The elegant marble apartment buildings that lined the city's downtown streets during the colonial era had become slums with neither running water nor electricity. Even most of those able to afford luxuries were living without basic conveniences or amenities; evening activities, such as cultural events or dining out, were rare. And because of a lack of spare parts, there were few taxis or other means of transportation.

Angola - Role of Women and Children

Almost no research existed on the role of women and children in Angolan society in the late 1980s, but a few generalities could be drawn. In rural Angola, as in many African economies, most of the population engaged in agricultural activities. Women performed much of the agricultural labor, as did children of both sexes. Marriage generally involved family, political, and economic interests as well as personal considerations. The household was the most important unit of production and was usually composed of several generations. The women grew and prepared most of the food for the household and performed all other domestic work. Because of their major role in food production, women shared relatively equal status with men, who spent much of their time hunting or tending cattle.

Many women and children belonged to two mass organizations: the Organization of Angolan Women (Organização da Mulher Angolana--OMA) and the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola-Youth Movement (Juventude do Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola -- JMPLA). Before independence, the OMA and JMPLA were instrumental in mobilizing political support for the MPLA among thousands of Angolan refugees. After independence, and especially after the creation of the MPLA-PT in 1977, the mass organizations came under the strict control of the party and were given the role of intermediaries between the MPLA-PT and the population.

In 1987 the OMA had a membership of 1.3 million women, most of whom lived in rural areas. Among the many contributions of OMA's members were the establishment of literacy programs and service in health and social service organizations. Most OMA members, however, were poor and unemployed. In 1988 only 10 percent of MPLA-PT members were women, although more women were finding jobs in teaching and professions from which they had been excluded in the past.

The JMPLA, which claimed a membership of 72,000 teenagers and students in 1988, became the only route to party membership after 1977. JMPLA members were required to participate in the Directorate of People's Defense and Territorial Troops, formerly the People's Defense Organization (Organização de Defesa Popular--ODP), and political study groups. The relatively small size of the organization, however, was indicative of the difficulty the government faced in recruiting young people from rural areas.

Angola - Effects of the Insurgency

The UNITA insurgency had a far greater impact on Angola's social fabric than the government's socialist policies. Hundreds of thousands of displaced persons were forced not only to seek refuge in towns and military protected resettlement areas but also to disrupt traditional life-styles. Intensive military recruitment drained urban and rural areas of much of the young adult male population as well. UNITA frequently reported avoidance of government military conscription and battlefield desertions, and its spokespersons also claimed in late 1988 that large numbers of teachers in rural areas had been recruited by the government, depleting the schools of trained instructors. It was not clear to what extent, if any, this disruption changed the social order in families, or if village social structures remained intact.

Another significant influence on the population caused by the UNITA insurgency was the emphasis on defense. Two militia forces were created: the ODP in 1975 (renamed the Directorate of People's Defense and Territorial Troops in 1985), and the People's Vigilance Brigades (Brigadas Populares de Vigilância--BPV) in 1984. The Directorate of People's Defense and Territorial Troops, operating as a backup force to the Angolan armed forces, had both armed and unarmed units dispersed throughout the country in villages to protect the population from UNITA attacks. Although the Directorate of People's Defense and Territorial Troops had an estimated 50,000 official members in 1988, as many as 500,000 men and women may have been participating in reserve functions. The BPV, organized more as a mass organization than as a branch of the armed forces, had an estimated 1.5 million members in 1987. Designed to function in urban areas, the BPV had broader responsibilities than the Directorate of People's Defense and Territorial Troops, including political and military training of the population and detection of criminal activities.

The consequences of war-related economic failure also disrupted Angolan society profoundly. The government had been compelled to expend enormous economic and human resources to fight UNITA, denying the population basic goods and services as well as diverting those with the skills badly needed for national development into military positions. The toll was heaviest among children, who suffered the most from substandard health conditions and the underfunded and understaffed school system. The insurgency also contributed heavily to underproduction in the agricultural sector, resulting in dangerous food shortages, especially in rural areas, and in the country's dependence on external food sources.


The attitude of the Angolan government toward religion was inconsistent. The MPLA-PT's strong commitment to Marxism-Leninism meant that its attitude toward religion, at least officially, corresponded to that of the traditional Soviet Marxist-Leninist dogma, which generally characterized religion as antiquated and irrelevant to the construction of a new society. The government also viewed religion as an instrument of colonialism because of the Roman Catholic Church's close association with the Portuguese. Furthermore, because membership in the party was the road to influence, party leaders and many of the cadres were likely to have no formal religious commitment, or at any rate to deny having one (even though most of Angola's leaders in the 1980s were educated at Catholic, Baptist, or Congregational mission schools). Nonetheless, the government acknowledged the prevalence of religion in Angolan societies and officially recognized the equality of all religions, tolerating religious practices as long as the churches restricted themselves to spiritual matters. The state, however, did institute certain specific controls over religious organizations, and it was prepared to act quickly when it felt that it was challenged by the acts of a specific group. Thus, in early 1978 the MPLA-PT Political Bureau ordered the registration of "legitimate" churches and religious organizations. Although priests and missionaries were permitted to stay in the country as foreign residents and although religious groups or churches could receive goods from abroad, further construction of new churches without a permit was forbidden.

A conflict developed in the late 1970s between the government and the Roman Catholic Church. In December 1977, the bishops of Angola's three archdioceses, meeting in Lubango, drafted a pastoral letter subsequently read to all churches that claimed frequent violations of religious freedom. Their most specific complaint was that the establishment of a single system of education ignored the rights of parents. They also objected to the government's systematic atheistic propaganda and its silencing of the church's radio station in 1976. In response to charges of government meddling in religious affairs, President Neto issued a decree in January 1978 stating that there was complete separation between church and religious institutions. In addition, Jornal de Angola printed an attack on the bishops, accusing them of questioning the integrity of the Angolan revolutionary process.

The outcome of the conflict had repercussions for Protestant churches as well as for the Roman Catholic Church. In essence, the government made it clear that religious institutions were to adhere to government and party rulings regarding nonreligious issues.

In the late 1980s, there was a slight change in the government's policy toward religion. The president and others in the government and party elites, recognizing that political opposition had not coalesced around religious leaders, became less fearful of religious opposition and therefore more tolerant of religious groups in general. One exception was the Our Lord Jesus Christ Church in the World, an independent Christian sect founded in 1949 by Simon Mtoko (also spelled Simão Toco). Mtoko, a Protestant from Uíge Province, fashioned the sect after the Kimbanguist movement (not to be confused with traditional kimbanda practices, which had arisen in the Belgian Congo in the 1920s. The government had been especially suspicious of the Mtokoists because of their strong support in Benguela Province, most of whose residents were Ovimbundu, the principal supporters of UNITA. Mtokoists also were involved in riots in the Catate region of Bengo Province and in Luanda at the end of 1986, and they attacked a prison in Luanda in 1987 in an attempt to free fellow believers who had been arrested in the 1986 riots. As a result, the government banned the sect, claiming that its members had used religion to attack the state and had therefore lost their legitimacy. Subsequently, however, as part of the general relaxation of its policy on religion, the government softened its position on the sect and in March 1988 declared it a legal religion.

Angola - Christianity

Religious affiliation in Angola was difficult to define because many who claimed membership in a specific Christian denomination also shared perceptions of the natural and supernatural order characteristic of indigenous religious systems. Sometimes the Christian sphere of the life of a community was institutionally separate from the indigenous sphere. In other cases, the local meaning and practice of Christianity were modified by indigenous patterns of belief and practice.

Although Roman Catholic missions were largely staffed by nonPortuguese during the colonial era, the relevant statutes and accords provided that foreign missionaries could be admitted only with the approval of the Portuguese government and the Vatican and on condition that they be integrated with the Portuguese missionary organization. Foreign Roman Catholic missionaries were required to renounce the laws of their own country, submit to Portuguese law, and furnish proof of their ability to speak and write the Portuguese language correctly. Missionary activity was placed under the authority of Portuguese priests. All of this was consistent with the Colonial Act of 1930, which advanced the view that Portuguese Catholic missions overseas were "instruments of civilization and national influence." In 1940 the education of Africans was declared the exclusive responsibility of missionary personnel. All church activities, education included, were to be subsidized by the state. In reality, Protestant missions were permitted to engage in educational activity, but without subsidy and on condition that Portuguese be the language of instruction.

The important Protestant missions in place in the 1960s (or their predecessors) had arrived in Angola in the late nineteenth century and therefore had been at work before the Portuguese managed to establish control over the entire territory. Their early years, therefore, were little affected by Portuguese policy and practice. Before the establishment of the New State (Estado Novo) in Portugal in 1926, the authorities kept an eye on the Protestant missions but were not particularly hostile to them. Settlers and local administrators often were hostile, however, because Protestant missionaries tended to be protective of what they considered their charges. In those early years and later, Protestant missionaries were not only evangelists but also teachers, healers, and counselors--all perhaps in a paternal fashion but in ways that involved contact with Africans in a more sustained fashion than was characteristic of Roman Catholic missionaries and local administrators.

Protestant missionaries worked at learning the local languages, in part to communicate better with those in their mission field, but above all in order to translate the Old Testament and the New Testament into African tongues. Protestant missionaries were much more likely than administrators and settlers to know a local language. Roman Catholic missionaries did not similarly emphasize the translation of the Bible and, with some exceptions, did not make a point of learning a Bantu language.

Because specific Protestant denominations were associated with particular ethnic communities, the structure of religious organization was linked to the structure of these communities. This connection was brought about in part by the tendency of entire communities to turn to the variety of Protestantism offered locally. The conversion of isolated individuals was rare. Those individuals who did not become Christians remained to a greater or lesser extent adherents of the indigenous system; unless they migrated to one of the larger towns, persons of a specific locality did not have the option of another kind of Christianity. Those members of a community who had not yet become Christians were tied by kinship and propinquity to those individuals who had. On the one hand, indigenous patterns of social relations affected church organization; on the other hand, the presence of Christians in the community affected the local culture to varying degrees. Christians who could quote Scripture in the local tongue contributed phrases to it that others picked up, and the attributes of the Christian God as interpreted by the specific denomination sometimes became attached to the high god of the indigenous religious system and typically made that deity more prominent than previously.

The involvement of the Protestant churches in the languages of their mission areas, their medical and other welfare activity, and their ability to adapt to local structures or (in the case of the Methodists among the Mbundu) to be fortuitously consistent with them gave Protestants much more influence than their numbers would suggest. For example, the leaders of the three major nationalist movements in the 1970s--the MPLA, UNITA, and the FNLA--had been raised as Protestants, and many others in these movements were also Protestants, even if their commitment may have diminished over time.

Estimates of the number of Roman Catholics in Angola varied. One source claimed that about 55 percent of the population in 1985 was Roman Catholic; another put the proportion in 1987 at 68 percent. Most Roman Catholics lived in western Angola, not only because that part of the country was the most densely populated but also because Portuguese penetration into the far interior was comparatively recent and Roman Catholic missionaries tended to follow the flag. The most heavily Roman Catholic area before independence was Cabinda Province, where most of the people were Bakongo. Bakongo in Angola proper were not quite so heavily Roman Catholic, and Protestantism was very influential there. There was a substantial proportion of Roman Catholics among the Mbundu in Luanda and Cuanza Norte provinces. Less heavily Catholic were the Ovimbundu-populated provinces of Benguela and Huambo, although the city of Huambo had been estimated to be two-thirds Catholic. In the southern and eastern districts, the proportion of Roman Catholics dropped considerably.

The proportion of Protestants in the Angolan population was estimated at 10 percent to 20 percent in the late 1980s. The majority of them presumably were Africans, although some mestiços may have been affiliated with one or another Protestant church.

The government recognized eleven Protestant denominations: the Assembly of God, the Baptist Convention of Angola, the Baptist Evangelical Church of Angola, the Congregational Evangelical Church of Angola, the Evangelical Church of Angola, the Evangelical Church of South-West Angola, the Our Lord Jesus Christ Church in the World (Kimbanguist), the Reformed Evangelical Church of Angola, the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, the Union of Evangelical Churches of Angola, and the United Methodist Church.

In the late 1980s, statistics on Christian preferences among ethnic groups were unavailable, but proportions calculated from the 1960 census probably had not changed significantly. According to the 1960 census, about 21 percent of the Ovimbundu were Protestants, but later estimates suggest a smaller percentage. The sole Protestant group active among the Mbundu was the Methodist Mission, largely sponsored by the Methodist Episcopal Church of the United States. Portuguese data for 1960 indicated that only 8 percent of the Mbundu considered themselves Protestants, but Protestant missions had considerable success among the Dembos. As many as 35 percent of the Bakongo were considered Protestants by the official religious census of 1960, with Baptists being the most numerous.

In addition to the Protestant churches directly generated by the missions and continuing in a more or less orthodox pattern, there were other groups, which stemmed at least in part from the Protestant experience but expressed a peculiarly local tendency and which were dominated entirely by Africans. The number of Angolans identifying with such African churches is not known, but it is reasonable to assume that many Angolans were attached to them.

Angola - Indigenous Religious Systems

There were as many indigenous religious systems in Angola as there were ethnic groups or even sections of ethnic groups. Two or more ethnic groups might share specific elements of belief, ritual, and organizational principle, but the configuration of these elements would be different for each group or section. Nevertheless, certain patterns were widespread.

Most traditional African religions claim the existence of a high god, but this deity's attributes vary. For example, some groups emphasize the high god's role as a creator, while others do not. Specific events in the human world are not usually explained by reference to this god, nor is a cult addressed to it.

The active entities in indigenous religious systems are ancestral and nature spirits. Ancestral spirits are considered relevant to the welfare of a descent group or its members, and nature spirits are considered relevant to the welfare of a community in a given location. However, specific individuals may be directly affected by one of the nature spirits resident in rocks or trees or in natural forces such as wind or lightning.

Ancestral spirits, especially those of recently deceased kin, must be honored with appropriate rituals if they are expected to look favorably on the enterprises of their descendants. Only some of these rituals are performed by the descent group as a whole. More frequently, they are performed by and on behalf of a segment of the group or an individual.

In theory, nature spirits are not generally considered to have led a human existence, but there are exceptions. Occasionally, the spirits of local rulers or others are detached from specific descent groups or are considered to have the characteristics of other nature spirits in that they are resident in features of the landscape.

The spirits of the ancestors of a kin group are looked to for assistance in economic and social matters, and some misfortunes-- famine, poor crops, personal losses--are ascribed to failure to have performed the appropriate rituals or to having misbehaved in some other way. Not all misfortunes are attributed to ancestral or nature spirits, however. Many people believe that magical powers inhere in things and that these powers, though usually neutral, may be used malevolently to afflict others or to prevent others to deal with affliction, particularly illness and death. It is further thought that individuals, sometimes unconsciously and without the use of material or technical means, can bring illness or other affliction to human beings. Such persons, usually called witches, are thought to be marked by the presence of a substance in the stomach or other organ. The terms witch and sorcerer have been applied to those who use their power malevolently, and the distinction between the two is based in part on whether the power is inherited (witch) or acquired in exchange for something of value (sorcerer)--whether the power is mystical or technical and whether the power is used on one's (the witch's) own behalf or on behalf of others, at a price. In fact, this distinction is made only in some societies and may be linked to certain features of community social structures and associated with patterns of accusation--whether kin by blood or marriage or non-kin are held to be responsible.

Individual difficulties are attributed to witchcraft, sorcery, or the acts of ancestral or nature spirits. The determination is usually made by a diviner, a specialist whose personal power and use of material objects are held to be generally benevolent (although there are cases in which a diviner may be accused of sorcery) and whose sensitivity to patterns of stress and strain in the community help him or her arrive at a diagnosis. A diviner-- widely called a kimbanda--may also have extensive knowledge of herbal medicine, and at least part of the work of the kimbanda is devoted to the application of that knowledge.

The kimbanda is said to have inherited or acquired the ability to communicate with spirits. In many cases, the acquisition of such power follows illness and possession by a specific spirit. The proficiency and degree of specialization of diviners varies widely. Some will deal only with particular symptoms; others enjoy broad repute and may include more than one village, or even more than one province, in their rounds. The greater the reputation of the kimbanda, the more he or she charges for services. This widespread term for diviner/healer has entered into local Portuguese, and so central is the role of the kimbanda to the complex of beliefs and practices characterizing most indigenous religions that some sources, such as the Jornal de Angola, have applied the term kimbandism to indigenous systems when cataloging Angolan religions.

In general, the belief in spirits (ancestral or natural), witches, and sorcerers is associated with a worldview that leaves no room for the accidental. Whether events are favorable or adverse, responsibility for them can in principle be attributed to a causal agent. If things go well, the correct ritual has been performed to placate the spirits or invoke their help. If things go badly, the correct ritual has not been performed, or a spirit has been otherwise provoked, or malevolent individuals have succeeded in breaching whatever protective (magical) measures have been taken against them. This outlook often persisted in Angola among individuals who had been influenced by Christianity or secular education. With some changes in particulars, it seemed to pervade urban areas, where a kimbanda rarely lacked clients.


Conditions Before Independence

African access to educational opportunities was highly limited for most of the colonial period. Until the 1950s, facilities run by the government were few and largely restricted to urban areas. Responsibility for educating Africans rested with Roman Catholic and Protestant missions. As a consequence, each of the missions established its own school system, although all were subject to ultimate control by the Portuguese with respect to certain policy matters.

Education beyond the primary level was available to very few Africans before 1960, and the proportion of the age group that went on to secondary school in the early 1970s was still quite low. Nevertheless, primary school attendance was growing substantially. Whether those entering primary schools were acquiring at least functional literacy in Portuguese was another matter. Primary school consisted of a total of four years made up of a pair of twoyear cycles. Portuguese statistics do not indicate how many students completed each of the cycles, but it is estimated that far fewer completed the full four years than entered the first cycle. Similarly, there seems to be general agreement among observers that a great number of those who entered secondary school did not complete it. In general, the quality of teaching at the primary level was low, with instruction carried on largely by Africans with very few qualifications. Most secondary school teachers were Portuguese, but the first years of secondary school were devoted to materials at the primary level.

<>Conditions after Independence
<>Education in UNITA-Claimed Territory

Angola - EDUCATION - Conditions after Independence

The conflict between the Portuguese and the various nationalist movements and the civil war that ensued after independence left the education system in chaos. Most Portuguese instructors had left (including virtually all secondary school staff), many buildings had been damaged, and the availability of instructional materials was limited.

A report of the First Party Congress published in December 1977 gave education high priority. The report emphasized MarxismLeninism as a base for the education system and its importance in shaping the "new generation," but the objectives of developing national consciousness and respect for traditional values were also mentioned. The training at all levels of persons who would be able to contribute to economic development was heavily stressed.

The government estimated the level of illiteracy following independence at between 85 percent and 90 percent and set the elimination of illiteracy as an immediate task. Initiated in November 1976, the literacy drive gave priority to rural peasants who had been completely ignored by the Portuguese education system. The priorities for education were, in order of importance, literacy, primary education, secondary education, and intermediate and university education. The government established the National Literacy Commission (under the leadership of the minister of education) to administer the literacy campaign.

The government reported that in the first year of the literacy campaign (November 1976 to November 1977) 102,000 adults learned to read and write; by 1980 the figure had risen to 1 million. By 1985 the average rate of adult literacy was officially estimated at 59 percent; United States government sources, however, estimated literacy at only 20 percent. In late 1987, Angola's official press agency, Angop, reported that the provinces with the most newly literate people included Huíla, Huambo, and Benguela and that 8,152 literacy teachers had participated in the campaign since its inception.

At independence there were 25,000 primary school teachers, but less than 2,000 were even minimally qualified to teach primary school children. The shortage of qualified instructors was even more pronounced at the secondary school level, where there were only 600 teachers. Furthermore, secondary schools existed only in towns. The First Party Congress responded to this problem by resolving to institute an eight-year compulsory system of free, basic education for children between ages seven and fifteen. Four years of primary education, provided free of charge, began at age seven. Secondary education, beginning at age eleven, lasted a further six years.

School enrollment, which rose very slowly considering Angola's youthful population, reflected the dire effects of the insurgency. In 1977 the government reported that more than 1 million primary school students were enrolled, as were about 105,000 secondary school students, roughly double the numbers enrolled in 1973. What proportions of the relevant age groups these students constituted was not known, but in the case of the primary school students it may have been almost two-thirds, and in that of secondary school students, perhaps a tenth to an eighth. Official government statistics released in 1984 showed that primary school enrollment had declined to 870,410, while secondary school enrollment (including vocational school and teacher training students) had increased to 151,759. This made for combined primary and secondary school enrollment consisting of 49 percent of the school-age population. By 1986 the primary school enrollment had increased to 1,304,145. Luanda's Agostinho Neto University, the country's only university, had an enrollment of 4,493 students in 1984, which had declined to 3,195 by 1986. A total of 72,330 people were enrolled in primary adult education programs in 1986.

The government began implementation of its education plan in close cooperation with its allies, particularly Cuba. Between 1978 and 1981, Cuba sent 443 teachers to Angola. According to an Angolan source, in 1987 an estimated 4,000 Angolan students, representing one-fourth of all foreign students from Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean studying in Cuba, were attending Cuban elementary, middle, and college preparatory schools, as well as polytechnical institutes and the Superior Pedagogical Polytechnic Institute. Also in Cuba, assisting in the education of their compatriots, was a group of twenty-seven Angolan teachers. In addition, the Soviet Union participated in Angolan education programs. More than 1,000 Angolan students had graduated from intermediate and specialized higher education programs in the Soviet Union by the end of 1987, at which time 100 Soviet lecturers were teaching at Agostinho Neto University, the Luanda Naval School, and the Institute of Geology and Cartography in the Angolan capital. By mid-1988 United States sources reported that 1,800 Angolan students were studying in the Soviet Union.

A number of Angolan organizations become active during the 1980s in the quest for better educational facilities.In 1987 the JMPLA launched a special campaign to recruit 1,000 young people to teach in primary schools in Luanda Province. The groups targeted by the campaign included secondary school and higher education graduates, as well as some workers. The OMA not only sponsored programs to teach women to read and write but was also involved in programs to reduce infant mortality and promote family planning. Even the military formed a special group in 1980, the eighth contingent of the Comrade Dangereux Brigade, whose basic function was to teach primary school; 6,630 brigade members were reported to have taught 309,419 students by 1987.

Despite the government's efforts, the UNITA insurgency prevented the construction of a new education system on the remains of that inherited from the Portuguese. The demands of the war had drained funds that could otherwise have been applied to building schools, printing books, and purchasing equipment. In 1988, according to the United States Center for Defense Information, the Angolan government spent more per capita on the military (US$892) than on education (US$310). The war in the southern and central regions of the country also prevented the spread of the school system; the consequences of the fighting, including UNITA attacks on schools and teachers and the massive displacement of rural populations in those areas, disrupted the education of hundreds of thousands of school-age children. Further damaging to Angola's future was the fact that many of those studying abroad had either failed to complete their courses of study or had not returned to Angola.

Angola - Education in UNITA-Claimed Territory

By the mid-1980s, UNITA had gained control over a large part of Angola's southeast and claimed to have gained the allegiance of more than 1 million Angolans. As an integral part of his strategy to win over the hearts and minds of the populations in the occupied area, UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi established a state within a state, complete with a system of schools and hospitals to meet the needs of the local populations. The town of Jamba, UNITA's stronghold in southern Cuando Cubango Province, had a population of between 10,000 and 15,000, all of whom claimed loyalty to UNITA and Savimbi.

Although much of the information released by UNITA was propagandistic, it provided a rough outline of the educational situation in UNITA areas. UNITA claimed that its complex system consisted of nearly 1,000 schools, in which almost 5,000 teachers taught more than 200,000 children. A Portuguese reporter who visited UNITA-claimed territory in late 1987 reported that the UNITA education system consisted of two years of kindergarten, four years of primary school, and seven years of high school. Upon completion of high school, the brightest students were given scholarships to study at universities in Britain, Côte d'Ivoire, France, Portugal, and the United States. Others attended middlelevel technical courses in agriculture, nursing, primary school teaching, and typing in Jamba's Polytechnical Institute. UNITA's academic organization closely resembled that of Portugal, with Latin an important part of the curriculum.

Another Portuguese source reported in mid-1988 that there were ninety-eight Angolan scholarship students studying in Portugal under UNITA sponsorship. Because Portuguese institutions did not recognize the courses taught in Jamba, UNITA-educated students were required to take the examinations from the fourth class level up to university entrance examinations, losing two or three years of their UNITA education in the process. In other European countries, however, UNITA-sponsored students took only the examinations required for admission to the education level for which they wanted to enroll. Nevertheless, UNITA preferred to send its students to Portugal because of the common language. UNITA-sponsored students generally studied agronomy, engineering, and medicine.


In general, the civil war had degraded the quality and availability of health care since independence. Logistical problems with supply and distribution of equipment as well as the lack of physical security impeded the provision of health care throughout the country, and public health services existed only in areas under government control. The rest of the country depended on international and private relief organizations, although UNITA provided a fairly extensive health care system of its own in rebel- controlled areas. Poor even by African standards, health conditions in Angola were made even worse by the failure of government health programs to reach much of the population and by the movement of a significant part of the population out of war-ravaged regions. The country remained heavily dependent on foreign medical assistance because instruction in Angolan medical schools had progressed slowly.

Prior to independence, only urban inhabitants, many of whom were Portuguese, had access to health facilities. One of the MPLA's priorities when it came into power was to provide health care to the entire population through a network of health facilities overseen by the National Health Service, an organization subordinate to the Ministry of Health. In theory, basic health workers determined the level of care required by each patient. In rural areas, village dispensaries and health stations were staffed by a nurse, and district health centers provided outpatient services, a pharmacy, and up to twenty beds. District health centers referred patients to provincial hospitals when necessary. In reality, health care was limited and often unavailable in rural areas because of the lack of resources and the absence of government control throughout much of the country. The government claimed, however, to run 700 health posts and 140 health centers in rural areas in the late 1980s. UNITA, as part of its general goal of disrupting government services, impeded and often prevented the movement of health care personnel and medical equipment in many areas of the country, including regions outside its immediate control. Reports from various sources, mostly appearing in the Portuguese press, alleged that UNITA forces had attacked and destroyed rural medical facilities.

The OMA, the National Union of Angolan Workers (União Nacional dos Trabalhadores Angolanos--UNTA), and the Angolan Red Cross were also involved in promoting health care through the provision of health education, vaccination campaigns, and surveillance of health conditions. Particularly prominent was a primary health care program provided by the Angolan Red Cross in urban shantytowns. Most health-related programs, however, were administered by foreign and international organizations with the cooperation of the Angolan government. Most of these programs, primarily the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and various UN agencies, provided emergency relief aid to those affected by the UNITA insurgency. The ICRC operated mostly in the provinces of Huambo, Bié, and Benguela, administering projects for improving nutrition, sanitation, and public health, with a total staff of some 70 people, assisted by about 40 physicians, nurses, technicians, and administrators from foreign Red Cross societies and an estimated 800 Angolan relief workers.

Infectious and parasitic diseases were prevalent among most of the population. These diseases flourished in conditions of inadequate to nonexistent environmental sanitation, poor personal hygiene habits, substandard living conditions, and inadequate to nonexistent disease control programs. These conditions caused a cholera epidemic in 1987 and 1988 that killed almost 2,000 people in twelve provinces.

Conditions worsened in the 1980s, primarily because the UNITA insurgency had resulted in the creation of a massive internal refugee population living in tent camps or urban shantytowns. The most frequent causes of death included gastrointestinal diseases, malaria, respiratory infections, and sexually transmitted diseases, all of which were aggravated by endemic malnutrition. The most prevalent diseases included acute diarrhea, cholera, hepatitis, hymenolepiasis, influenza, leprosy, meningitis, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, tuberculosis, typhoid, typhus, yaws, and yellow fever. In addition, in 1989 approximately 1.5 million Angolans were at risk of starvation because of the insurgency and economic mismanagement. The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) estimated that Angola had the world's fourth highest mortality rate for children under the age of five, despite a program launched in 1987 by UNICEF to vaccinate children against diphtheria, measles, polio, tetanus, tuberculosis, and whooping cough. UNICEF claimed to have vaccinated 75 percent of all Angolan children under the age of one.

If statistics provided by the chief of the Department of Hygiene and Epidemiology in Angola's Ministry of Health were accurate, the incidence of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) in Angola was fairly low by African standards--0.4 percent of blood donors in Luanda and 2 percent to 4 percent of adults in Cabinda tested positive for the AIDS virus. The highest percentage of cases was in the northeast region bordering Zaire. There were indications, however, that the actual number of AIDS cases was significantly higher; the United States-based AIDS Policy Research Center claimed a high incidence of the disease among Cuban troops based in Angola and Angola-based African National Congress members. The biggest problems in determining the extent of the epidemic were inadequate communications systems and the lack of modern blood testing or computers to tabulate the death toll in rural areas. In cities controlled by the government, the World Health Organization helped initiate an information and testing campaign in 1988 that included the distribution of condoms.

Another prevalent health concern centered on the tens of thousands of people, many of them women and children, crippled by land mines planted by UNITA insurgents and, according to foreign relief organizations, by government forces. Estimates on the number of amputees ranged from 20,000 to 50,000. Foreign relief organizations operated orthopedic centers in both government- controlled and UNITA-occupied areas, providing artificial limbs and physical therapy. The largest facility was the Bomba Alta Orthopedic Center in Huambo, Angola's second largest city, which was operated by the ICRC. Designed essentially to manufacture orthopedic prostheses and braces for paralytics and to provide physical rehabilitation, in 1986 the center treated 822 patients, of whom 725 were adults and 97 were children. In 1987 the center was staffed with twenty-one Angolan and three foreign medical personnel, ten of whom specialized in orthopedic prostheses for the lower limbs. The center provided 1,260 patients with prostheses in 1988.

Most of Angola's estimated forty-five hospitals, all government operated, were located in urban areas. Conditions in the hospitals, however, were often deplorable. Poor sanitation, a lack of basic equipment, and disruptions in water and electrical services were common. Trained medical personnel were in chronic short supply; in the late 1980s, Angola had only 230 native-born doctors, and only 30 percent of the population had access to health services. Most physicians, nurses, technicians, and national health advisers were foreigners--principally Cubans, East and West Europeans, and South Americans. In 1986 there were about 800 physicians in Angola (1 per 10,250 people--a very low ratio even by African standards) and somewhat more than 10,500 nurses. A Western source reported in February 1989 that 323 physicians, or 41 percent of the total number of doctors in government-controlled areas, were Cubans.

The government had placed a high priority on health and medical training programs, requiring that all foreign medical personnel teach classes in medicine, in addition to performing their clinical duties. There were two physician training programs in the country (in Luanda and Huambo) and more than twenty nursing schools, staffed primarily by Angolan, Cuban, and Soviet teachers. Most of the instructors in all medical training programs were foreign (primarily Cuban, Yugoslav, Soviet, and East German), and Angolan students attended medical training programs in Cuba, East Germany, and Poland.

According to a Portuguese source, health care in UNITA- controlled Angola was well organized and effective. The rebels operated a hospital in Jamba, which was staffed by Portuguese- trained medical personnel assisted by several French personnel from the volunteer organization Doctors Without Borders. Jamba's hospital was highly specialized, with the capability to meet most of the needs of the surrounding population; the only unavailable treatments were neurosurgery and cardiothoracic surgery. The hospital was apparently well equipped (probably by South Africa) with both instruments and medicines. Although tropical diseases were prevalent, war casualties were often the reason for hospitalization, with most of the wounded having first been treated at field hospitals established along the military fronts.

Sections of this chapter dealing with preindependence subjects and general discussions of the structure of society are based on parts of larger studies. Such studies include Hermann Pössinger's "Interrelations Between Economic and Social Change in Rural Africa," Lawrence W. Henderson's "Ethnolinguistic Worlds," Douglas L. Wheeler and René Pélissier's Angola, and Joseph C. Miller's Kings and Kinsmen, which includes a discussion of the complex character of Mbundu matrilineages.

Much of the more recent information has been culled from books, studies, and translations of foreign publications provided by the United States Joint Publications Research Service. Keith Somerville's Angola: Politics, Economics, and Society provides an excellent overview of the government's policies on education and religion; Linda M. Heywood's "The Dynamics of Ethnic Nationalism in Angola" contains a detailed analysis of UNITA's aspirations among the Ovimbundu as well as Ovimbundu life in present-day Angola; and Angola's official press agency, Angop, has provided detailed items pertaining to issues of health and education. Also of great value are articles in the Washington Post and New York Times by foreign correspondents such as Blaine Harden and James Brooke dealing with the effects of the UNITA insurgency on the rural and urban populations.

Two valuable sources on the grave conditions in which most Angolans live are the U.S. Committee for Refugees' Uprooted Angolans and the final report of the United States Private Voluntary Agency and the United States Government Assessment Team to Angola.

Angola - The Economy

IN 1988 OBSERVERS OFTEN mentioned Angola's need to rehabilitate and revive its economy. Since independence in 1975, most economic production had deteriorated, and the country had become almost totally dependent on the export of oil for revenues. In the wake of the war for independence, the flight of trained personnel and foreign capital had left the country without the means to continue production. Furthermore, the prolonged insurgency, which still affected much of the country in late 1988, had undermined those enterprises that were still functioning. Although the political and military situation undoubtedly contributed to these economic problems, the Angolan economy had never been very strong, and most economic successes were of recent and precarious origins.

By the late 1980s, the economic potential of Angola had not been reached. Existing transportation networks, including railroads, roads, and ports, serviced only a fraction of the traffic they were built to accommodate. Likewise, manufacturing industries, such as textiles, cement, vehicle assembly, and food processing, all operated well below their productive capacities. Moreover, vast areas that had been cultivated for both cash and subsistence crops lay idle, and Angola was forced to import food. Indeed, even the local labor force, which had worked on the large agricultural estates, was unemployed and subsisted in displacement camps or in the cities on foreign aid. The only exceptions to the general regression in productivity were in the oil, electric power, telecommunications, and air transportation industries. While these sectors were expanding, most of Angola's economic production was shrinking.


The Angolan economy has been dominated by the production of raw materials and the use of cheap labor since European rule began in the sixteenth century. The Portuguese used Angola principally as a source for the thriving slave trade across the Atlantic; Luanda became the greatest slaving port in Africa. After the Portuguese Empire abolished the slave trade in Angola in 1858, it began using concessional agreements, granting exclusive rights to a private company to exploit land, people, and all other resources within a given territory. In Mozambique, this policy spawned a number of companies notorious for their exploitation of local labor. But in Angola, only the Diamond Company of Angola (Companhia de Diamantes de Angola--Diamang) showed even moderate success. At the same time, Portuguese began emigrating to Angola to establish farms and plantations (fazendas) to grow cash crops for export. Although these farms were only partially successful before World War II, they formed the basis for the economic growth that shaped Angola's economy in the late 1980s.

Before World War II, the Portuguese government was concerned primarily with keeping its colonies self-sufficient and therefore invested little capital in Angola's local economy. It built no roads until the mid-1920s, and the first railroad, the Benguela Railway, was not completed until 1929. Between 1900 and 1940, only 35,000 Portuguese emigrants settled in Angola, and most worked in commerce in the cities, facilitating trade with Portugal. In the rural areas, Portuguese settlers often found it difficult to make a living because of fluctuating world prices for sugarcane and sisal and the difficulties in obtaining cheap labor to farm their crops. As a result, they often suspended their operations until the market prices rose and instead marketed the produce of Angolan farmers.

But in the wake of World War II, the rapid growth of industrialization worldwide and the parallel requirements for raw materials led Portugal to develop closer ties with its colonies and to begin actively developing the Angolan economy. In the 1930s, Portugal started to develop closer trade ties with its colonies, and by 1940 it absorbed 63 percent of Angolan exports and accounted for 47 percent of Angolan imports, up from 39 percent and 37 percent, respectively, a decade earlier. When the price of Angola's principal crops--coffee and sisal--jumped after the war, the Portuguese government began to reinvest some profits inside the country, initiating a series of projects to develop infrastructure. During the 1950s, Portugal built dams, hydroelectric power stations, and transportation systems. In addition, Portuguese citizens were encouraged to emigrate to Angola, where planned settlements (colonatos) were established for them in the rural areas. Finally, the Portuguese initiated mining operations for iron ore, manganese, and copper to complement industrial activities at home, and in 1955 the first successful oil wells were drilled in Angola. By 1960 the Angolan economy had been completely transformed, boasting a successful commercial agricultural sector, a promising mineral and petroleum production enterprise, and an incipient manufacturing industry.

Yet by 1976, these encouraging developments had been reversed. The economy was in complete disarray in the aftermath of the war of independence and the subsequent internal fighting of the liberation movements. According to the ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola-Workers' Party (Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola-Partido de Trabalho--MPLA-PT), in August 1976 more than 80 percent of the agricultural plantations had been abandoned by their Portuguese owners; only 284 out of 692 factories continued to operate; more than 30,000 medium-level and high-level managers, technicians, and skilled workers had left the country; and 2,500 enterprises had been closed (75 percent of which had been abandoned by their owners). Furthermore, only 8,000 vehicles remained out of 153,000 registered, dozens of bridges had been destroyed, the trading network was disrupted, administrative services did not exist, and files and studies were missing.

Angola's economic ills can also be traced to the legacy of Portuguese colonial development. Although the Angolan economy had started to show strong signs of growth by 1960, most developments had originated recently and precariously. Many of the white settlers had come to Angola after 1950 and were understandably quick to repatriate during the war of independence. During their stay, however, these settlers had appropriated Angolan lands, disrupting local peasant production of cash and subsistence crops. Moreover, Angola's industries depended on trade with Portugal--the colony's overwhelmingly dominant trade partner-- for both markets and machinery. Only the petroleum and diamond industries boasted a wider clientele for investment and markets. Most important, the Portuguese had not trained Angolans to operate the larger industrial or agricultural enterprises, nor had they actively educated the population. Upon independence Angola thus found itself without markets or expertise to maintain even minimal economic growth.

As a result, the government intervened, nationalizing most businesses and farms abandoned by the Portuguese. It established state farms to continue producing coffee, sugar, and sisal, and it took over the operations of all factories to maintain production. These attempts usually failed, primarily because of the lack of experienced managers and the continuing disruptions in rural areas caused by the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola--UNITA) insurgency. Only the petroleum sector continued to operate successfully, and by 1980 this sector had helped the gross domestic product reach US$3.6 billion, its highest level up to 1988. In the face of serious economic problems and the continuing war throughout the countryside, in 1987 the government announced plans to liberalize economic policies and promote private investment and involvement in the economy. But most observers believed that the key to Angolan economic success rested only partially with the privatization of production. Even if peace were achieved, the economy would still have great difficulties in reaching its full potential.


Since independence, the economy has been dominated by the oil export industry and drained by the need to carry on the war against the UNITA insurgents. Because of the collapse of the cash-crop economy, particularly the cultivation of coffee by large-scale plantations, in 1988 the economy depended totally on the oil sector to generate funds. As a result of increased oil production, GDP had risen steadily from Kz109.4 billion in 1982 to Kz144.9 billion in 1985.

Unfortunately, however, as the war against UNITA continued, most revenue from oil sales was quickly spent on the nation's defense forces. The relationship between oil profits and defense requirements became most acute in 1986 when the price of oil dropped, reducing government revenues and resulting in a jump in the percentage of government spending on defense.

At the same time, the war has also wreaked havoc in the already suffering agricultural sector, forcing the government to use precious foreign exchange to import food. Once a food exporter, Angola by the late 1980s was importing half of its grain requirements to compensate for reduced production in the war-torn rural areas.

Although the war has caused much rural-to-urban migration, industries based in the cities have been unable to harness this potential work force. Most of the Angolans coming into the cities have little education or training, partly because education in the rural areas has been disrupted by the war. Furthermore, the industries in the cities have been hurt by the lack of raw materials, including grain, timber, sugarcane, and cotton, normally produced in the rural areas. Consequently, industries have come to depend on high-priced imported materials. The frequent unavailability of industrial inputs, particularly during 1986 when the government severely restricted imports to protect foreign exchange reserves, has led to underproduction and underuse in the manufacturing sector.

As a result of the general dislocation in the economy, particularly in the transportation and distribution systems, many goods were unavailable in the 1980s. Thus, the black market (also called the parallel market, or kadonga) had come to dominate trade and undermine government efforts to impose order on domestic production. Consequently, the value of the kwanza also dropped, making it increasingly difficult for the government to attract wage earners to either agricultural or manufacturing enterprises. Furthermore, pilfering and graft in most economic enterprises had become common, as workers recognized that goods used in barter were more valuable than wages paid in kwanzas. As a result, inflation was high, goods were scarce, worker absenteeism was widespread, and productivity was low.


The government, under the control of the MPLA-PT Central Committee, directly controlled most of the economy. Government-owned enterprises took the place of private enterprises and businesses. Because most Portuguese owners of manufacturing concerns and agricultural plantations fled the country at the time of independence, the new government was forced to nationalize factories and farms to keep them operating. The government also intervened directly to protect the country's wealth from foreign exploitation by creating companies to control Angola's mineral and petroleum wealth. State-owned companies in the oil industry have negotiated attractive terms of operation with the foreign companies that pump the oil, keeping a large percentage of the profits inside the country. The government's economic policies thus have combined ideology with necessity to fill the gap left by the Portuguese, without emulating the economic system created under colonialism.

But in the mid-1980s, Angola's centralized economy had fallen on hard times. Despite a 21.5 percent rise in the volume of oil production in 1986, government oil receipts fell to only 45 percent of the budgeted level because of the serious drop in worldwide oil prices that year. As a result, government revenues were barely half of the level budgeted for 1986. The government responded by cutting overall expenditures by 5.5 percent, mostly for items related to economic development, although expenditures for social services rose by 14 percent. The war against UNITA compounded the effect of lost oil revenue--defense expenditures rose to a record 40.4 percent of the 1986 budget.

Weak economic performance since independence has led government planners to reorient economic ideology, endorsing programs to liberalize many state policies and return some state functions to the private sector. In December 1986, the government decreed the liberalization of agricultural marketing, allowing for some free trade of agricultural goods to motivate farmers to produce more for the local market. Since the departure in 1975 of the Portuguese traders, who traditionally had monopolized rural trading, the inefficiency of the National Company for the Marketing and Distribution of Agricultural Products (Emprêsa Nacional de Comercialização e Distribuição de Produtos Agrícolas--Encodipa) and the scarcity of basic consumer goods and manufactured agricultural inputs have discouraged peasants from producing surpluses. Most peasants have retreated to a purely subsistence form of farming. Similar inadequacies by the state livestock marketing company have resulted in serious overstocking in the cattle-raising southwestern region of Angola. Since 1984 the government has also been dissolving the state farms established on land formerly owned by Portuguese commercial farmers and has been turning the land over to the workers. Agricultural development stations have been set up to provide these farmers with services such as mechanized plowing. Furthermore, local peasant associations and cooperatives have been established throughout the country to organize production and consolidate resources.

On August 17, 1987, President José Eduardo dos Santos announced plans to restructure the economy. These reforms, called the Economic and Financial Rectification (Saneamento Económico e Financeiro--SEF), put the economy in line with the policy guidelines approved by the Second Party Congress in December 1985. In his speech, the president listed several factors affecting the economy, including the steep fall in oil prices in 1986, the "excessive centralization of socialist planning methods," the poor management of state enterprises, and corruption. The SEF program mandated a strong move toward the private sector domestically and abroad, including membership in the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. The foreign investment law was therefore being reviewed, and an office was to be established to promote investment and reduce negotiating costs. The SEF program also called for the privatization of nonstrategic state enterprises, ending budget subsidies to the remaining state enterprises, shifting from state farms to the peasant sector, raising prices, enacting monetary reforms, and devaluating the kwanza. The president noted that because the state had tried to enter so many different areas of economic activity, it had been unable to prevent the deterioration of the services for which it was traditionally responsible, such as education, health services, police, and civil administration. One area that the government was unlikely to relinquish to the private sector, however, was control over imports.

In addition to the general liberalization of economic policies that the government proposed, the MPLA-PT Central Committee also launched a campaign against graft and the parallel market. The parallel market offered at exorbitant prices a full range of goods normally unavailable inside Angola. By June 1987, forty-two work teams had been established to oversee government efforts to end this illegal trade, and the provincial authorities had ordered the closing of all parallel markets. In addition, the government directed the military to supervise more closely the movement of goods at the intraprovincial and interprovincial level. The government also started an educational campaign of "consciousness raising" on farms and in factories to discourage the theft and pilfering that fed goods to the parallel market.

These efforts notwithstanding, in 1988 sources estimated that approximately 40 percent of the goods imported through Luanda never reached their intended destinations because of theft. Moreover, because the purchase of basic foodstuffs required ration cards, in 1988 the parallel market was thriving.


Because of the overall decline in productivity after independence, Angola has become increasingly dependent on foreign trade and assistance to meet its domestic needs. It has also become dependent on oil export earnings to fund imports. Traditionally, the most important imports have been machinery items, especially equipment for the oil industry. By the mid-1980s, however, military equipment and food were becoming Angola's most important imports. The country continued to export most of its oil to the West, in particular the United States. The Soviet Union, as the country's arms supplier, and France and the United States, as suppliers of oil equipment, were the country's major import partners. Assistance from individual foreign countries and international organizations was also becoming increasingly important to Angola because of its mounting food crisis.

Only by severely limiting imports has the government been able to prevent a serious crisis in the balance of payments account. In the 1980s, the Ministry of Planning, in consultation with the National Bank of Angola (Banco Nacional de Angola--BNA), the Ministry of Domestic and Foreign Trade, and other ministries drew up an annual foreign trade budget as part of the annual national plan. This plan set ceilings for categories of imports in each sector of the economy, and import quotas were then allocated to individual companies. For each foreign order, the importing company was required to submit invoices and apply to the Ministry of Domestic and Foreign Trade for an import license. Most imports were brought in by state foreign trade companies and new regional import-export companies. However, the oil companies enjoyed foreign exchange autonomy and imported their equipment directly.


Before independence the economy employed a labor force of unskilled Angolans and trained Portuguese. Since independence there has been little change in the overall composition of the work force, although in the 1980s there was a shortage of both skilled and unskilled workers. Most foreign workers fled the country at independence, but some have returned as contract workers, called cooperants by the government. Many unskilled workers in the rural areas--primarily plantation laborers--migrated to the cities in the wake of the 1975-76 fighting and the exodus of the plantation owners and managers. In the 1980s, most of the work force, even in the cities, remained illiterate and untrained for work in the manufacturing sector. By 1980 the labor force still conformed to its preindependence distribution: roughly 75 percent of all workers were engaged in agricultural production, 10 percent in industry, and 15 percent in services.

Calling itself a socialist workers state, Angola was committed to protecting the rights of its workers and providing them with a reasonable wage. In the 1980s, all workers therefore belonged to the National Union of Angolan Workers (União Nacional dos Trabalhadores Angolanos--UNTA) and received a minimum wage. In addition, there were incentive programs at some factories, and UNTA promoted a "socialist emulation" program in which workers won bonuses for exceptional productivity. Nevertheless, the government has become dissatisfied with worker productivity, especially at the state-run enterprises, and has proposed to tie all wages to performance.

Foreign workers have also posed a problem for the government because of their high salaries and because they contradict the party's ideological commitment to the use of Angolan labor. The government, however, was forced to use foreign workers in many crucial positions after the departure of the Portuguese. These positions included those held by physicians, teachers, engineers, and technicians. Most came from Portugal, Cuba, Eastern Europe, Italy, France, Spain, Scandinavia, and Brazil. By 1984 the salaries of these foreign workers accounted for more than US$180 million, despite government attempts to force a reduction in this work force.

In pursuit of Angolanization (that is, the goal of having an upper-level work force that is at least 50 percent Angolan), in 1985 the government began initiating some training programs. In November of that year, it reached agreement with the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) on a training program for Angolan financial analysts. The greatest success occurred in the petroleum sector, however, in which by the end of 1985 more than 50 percent of the workers were Angolans with some technical training. This success was the result of actions taken by the government and the National Fuel Company of Angola (Sociedade Nacional de Combustíveis de Angola--Sonangol), which employed about half of the workers in the petroleum industry, to substitute Angolans for foreign workers. The 1982 Angolanization law (Decree 20/82) established a special fund for training activities. Consequently, intensive training courses and seminars in the petroleum field increased from 66 in 1982 to 151 in 1985. Sonangol participated in financing various training efforts, including scholarship grants. Furthermore, Sonangol closely cooperated with Angolan universities to introduce fields of study related to the petroleum industry. In the early 1980s, two training programs, one for geologists and geophysicists and the other for petroleum engineers, were instituted in the schools of science and engineering at the University of Angola. At the same time, the university's school of engineering began an equipment engineer training program. The training of middle-level technicians was undertaken by the National Petroleum Institute, at Sumbe in Cuanza Sul Province; the institute's teachers and administrators were cooperants from Italy. The institute trained between fifty and sixty production specialists per year, some of whom were from countries belonging to the Southern Africa Development and Coordination Conference (SADCC).

By the beginning of 1986, the government claimed some success in its Angolanization program. According to the minister of industry, 44 percent of senior-level and middle-level management in industry were Angolans. Nevertheless, after the drop in oil prices in 1986, the government sought to reduce the number of foreign workers even further and enacted the Statute on the Cooperant Worker. This law established the principle that cooperants must train Angolan workers in their jobs and pay taxes based on Angolan labor regulations. To increase the ranks of Angolan workers, the government even encouraged the return of Angolan exiles who had formerly opposed the MPLA. These included former members of the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (Frente Nacional de Libertação de Angola--FNLA), the Organization of Angolan Communists (Organização dos Comunistas de Angola--OCA), and UNITA. The response to this encouragement has been somewhat meager, however, because of Angola's ongoing instability.

Angola - Diamonds

Diamond mining began in 1912, when the first gems were discovered in a stream in the Lunda region in the northeast. In 1917 Diamang was granted the concession for diamond mining and prospecting, which it held until independence. Control over the company was obtained by the government in 1977. In April 1979, a general law on mining activities (Law 5/79) was enacted and gave the state the exclusive right to prospect for and exploit minerals. Accordingly, a state diamond-mining enterprise, the National Diamond Company (Emprêsa Nacional de Diamantes--Endiama), was founded in 1981 and acquired the government's 77 percent share in Diamang. UNITA, which selected the diamond mining industry as a principal target, soon crippled mining efforts, and by the beginning of 1986 the two foreign companies involved in servicing and operating the industry pulled out of Angola. By mid-1986 Diamang was formally dissolved, leaving large outstanding debts.

Attacks by UNITA on mining centers, disruption of transport routes, and widespread theft and smuggling caused diamond sales to fall to US$33 million by 1985 and to an estimated US$15 million in 1986. In late 1986, Roan Selection Trust (RST) International, a subsidiary of the Luxembourg-registered holding company ITM International, began mining in the Cafunfo area, along the Cuango River, the site of Angola's most valuable alluvial diamond deposits. Mining had been halted there for more than two years after UNITA attacked the mining camp in February 1984, kidnapping seventy-seven expatriate workers and severely damaging the mining equipment. After the subsequent kidnapping of a British expatriate in November 1986, defense forces in the area were strengthened, allowing the resumption of mining operations. In 1987 production there averaged 60,000 carats, and about 120,000 carats were produced in the other two mining areas, Andrada and Lucapa (see <" Diamond.htm">Diamond Jewelry). By 1987 diamond production had risen to 750,000 carats, compared with less than 400,000 carats produced in 1986. The 1987 figure, however, was still not much more than 1985 production and only a little over half of 1980 output).

This increase in production has benefited from the rise in the price per carat received for Angolan diamonds. The resumption of mining in the area along the Cuango River and a decline in theft of stones of higher value in the Andrada and Lucapa areas have increased the value of output. Furthermore, Endiama, which was responsible for overseeing the industry and for holding monthly sales, has benefited from a general improvement in the world diamond market as well as dealers' willingness to pay higher prices in the hope of securing favored treatment in the future. As a result, average carat value established by the monthly sales in 1987 exceeded US$110, more than twice as much as in 1985 (US$45) and at its highest level since 1981 (US$119).

In 1987 Endiama signed a two-year mining contract with the Portuguese Enterprises Corporation (Sociedade Portuguêsa de Empreendimentos--SPE), a Portuguese company that has retained a large number of Portuguese technicians previously employed by Diamang. Former Diamang shareholders founded SPE in 1979 after Diamang was nationalized. The precise terms of the contract were not made public, but it was thought that the company would undertake new prospecting, which had been at a virtual standstill since independence. Through a subsidiary, the SPE also was to help Endiama with diamond valuation, which a British company had been carrying out. In December 1987, Angola also signed an agreement with the Soviet Union to cooperate in mining diamonds and quartz. Under the terms of the agreement, the Soviet Union was to participate in mining enterprises and was to draw up a detailed geological map of Angola.

In 1987 the government also began to revise the 1979 mining law to encourage new companies to invest in the diamond-mining industry, in particular to resume prospecting. Among the companies believed to be considering investing in 1988 was Britain's Lonrho conglomerate, which had taken an increasingly active interest in Angola in the late 1980s. The South African diamond-mining giant DeBeers was also interested after it lost its exclusive marketing rights for Angolan diamonds at the end of 1985 because of government suspicions that DeBeers had devalued Angolan diamonds. DeBeers has expressed interest in studying the kimberlite pipes (deep, subsurface deposits), which, because of the depletion of the alluvial deposits, were thought to represent the future of the Angolan diamond industry.


By the end of the colonial period, a variety of crops and livestock were produced in Angola. In the north, cassava, coffee, and cotton were grown; in the central highlands, maize was cultivated; and in the south, where rainfall is lowest, cattle herding was prevalent. In addition, there were large plantations run by Portuguese that produced palm oil, sugarcane, bananas, and sisal. These crops were grown by commercial farmers, primarily Portuguese, and by peasant farmers, who sold some of their surplus to local Portuguese traders in exchange for supplies. The commercial farmers were dominant in marketing these crops, however, and enjoyed substantial support from the colonial government in the form of technical assistance, irrigation facilities, and financial credit. They produced the great majority of the crops that were marketed in the cities or exported.

After independence, the departure of Portuguese farmers and traders in the rural areas undermined agricultural productivity. In response, the government set up state farms on land formerly owned by the Portuguese and established the National Company for the Marketing and Distribution of Agricultural Products (Emprêsa Nacional de Comercialização e Distribuição de Produtos Agrícolas-- Encodipa) to maintain the rural trading system. Neither body, however, was successful, and by 1984 the government started phasing out the state farms and turned production over to individual farmers. In December 1985, the government also put most rural trade back into private hands. To help peasant farmers, the government established agricultural development stations and provided bank credits for small-scale agricultural projects. Several hundred state farms were to be turned over to associations of tenant farmers as an embryonic form of cooperative. The association was to buy or rent tools for shared use, share marketing initiatives to strengthen prices, and share transport. By the end of 1985, the Directorate of Farm Marketing controlled 4,638 farm cooperatives and 6,534 farmers' associations; but of these, only 93 cooperatives and 71 associations were operational.

In the late 1980s, the country faced serious problems in resuscitating agricultural production. By 1988 the departure of the Portuguese, rural depopulation, and the physical isolation of the farming areas had almost totally halted commercial production of such cash crops as coffee and sisal, as well as the subsistence production of cereals. Production was stagnating because of marketing and transport difficulties; shortages of seed, fertilizer, and consumer goods for trade with peasant farmers; and the impact of the war on planting, harvesting, and yields. Land mines and fear of attacks had forced peasants to reduce the areas under cultivation, especially fields distant from villages, and to abandon hopes of harvesting some planted areas. Moreover, the internal migration of peasants to safer areas had resulted in the overcultivation of lands and decreased yields.

Despite these obstacles, there were some successes. The relatively secure Huíla Province maintained a fair level of production, and the reorientation of government policy away from inefficient state farms and toward peasant producers promised to provide services to and boost production by peasant farmers. By the end of 1987, there were twenty-five development stations providing services to peasant producers in ten provinces, and four more were being set up.


Under the Portuguese, the manufacturing sector grew rapidly because of the substantial increase in the size of the white settler population, the creation of a large domestic market for goods, and the strict exchange controls imposed in 1962 that encouraged investment in local industry. The manufacturing sector was dominated by light industries that produced consumer goods, especially the food-processing industry, which accounted for 46 percent of the value of manufactured output in 1973. In contrast, heavy industries accounted for only 22 percent of output. When the settlers fled, most small manufacturing firms were left without their clerical work force, their managers, and even their owners; in 1976 only 284 out of 692 manufacturing businesses were operating under their old management. In reaction to the decline in the manufacturing sector, in March 1976 the MPLA government enacted the Law on State Intervention and nationalized all of the abandoned businesses. However, by 1985 industrial production was only 54 percent of its real value in 1973.

In the years immediately following independence, the government spent large sums to put plants back into operation, but its plans were overly ambitious, and it overestimated the state's capacity to keep factories supplied with necessary materials and inputs. In the early 1980s, investment was cut drastically, as the government sought to control expenditures and the foreign exchange deficit. Because of limited funding, projects were more carefully selected, and there was clearer recognition of the need for simultaneous restructuring in other sectors, particularly those supplying raw materials for manufacture. By 1986approximately 180 companies were operating in the manufacturing sector, and their output was equal to about 13 percent of GDP. Of that amount, state-run companies accounted for 56 percent.

Among the most acute problems for industrial rehabilitation were shortages of raw materials, unreliable supplies of water and electricity, and labor instability. The decline in domestic production of many raw materials has been especially critical in the decline in local manufacturing. For example, by 1986 only a small fraction of the 8,000 tons of cotton needed annually by the textile industry was supplied locally, while during the early 1970s Angola exported raw cotton. The deterioration of the water supply system has also damaged many industries, especially breweries, as have cutoffs in electricity supply. Furthermore, labor problems, a consequence of a shortage of skilled workers and disincentives to work for wages in an inflated economy, have depleted the local work force. Foreign exchange constraints have also prevented many industries from importing the necessary raw materials.

Angola - Government and Politics

AFTER THIRTEEN YEARS of guerrilla warfare, Angola finally escaped from Portuguese colonial rule in 1975, but with few of the resources needed to govern an independent nation. When an effort to form a coalition government comprising three liberation movements failed, a civil war ensued. The Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola -- MPLA) emerged from the civil war to proclaim a Marxist-Leninist one-party state. The strongest of the disenfranchised movements, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola -- UNITA), continued to battle for another thirteen years, shifting the focus of its opposition from the colonial power to the MPLA government. In late 1988, the social and economic disorder resulting from a quarter-century of violence had a pervasive effect on both individual lives and national politics.

Angola's 1975 Constitution, revised in 1976 and 1980, ratifies the socialist revolution but also guarantees some rights of private ownership. The ruling party, renamed the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola-Workers' Party (Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola-Partido de Trabalho--MPLA-PT) in 1977, claimed the power of the state. Although formally subordinate to the party, the government consolidated substantial power in its executive branch. The president was head of the MPLA-PT, the government, the military, and most important bodies within the party and the government. In his first nine years in office (1979-88), President José Eduardo dos Santos further strengthened the presidency, broadening the influence of a small circle of advisers and resisting pressure to concentrate more power within the MPLA-PT. His primary goal was economic development rather than ideological rigor, but at the same time dos Santos considered the MPLA-PT the best vehicle for building a unified, prosperous nation.

Among the first actions taken by the MPLA-PT was its conversion into a vanguard party to lead in the transformation to socialism. Throughout the 1980s, the MPLA-PT faced the daunting task of mobilizing the nation's peasants, most of whom were concerned with basic survival, subsistence farming, and avoiding the destruction of the ongoing civil war. Only a small minority of Angolans were party members, but even this group was torn by internal disputes. Factional divisions were drawn primarily along racial and ideological lines, but under dos Santos influence within the MPLAPT gradually shifted from mestiço to black African leadership and from party ideologues to relative political moderates.

Mass organizations were affiliated with the party in accordance with Marxist-Leninist dogma. In the face of continued insurgent warfare and deteriorating living standards, however, many social leaders chafed at party discipline and bureaucratic controls. Dos Santos worked to build party loyalty and to respond to these tensions, primarily by attempting to improve the material rewards of Marxist-Leninist state building. His greatest obstacle, however, was the destabilizing effect of UNITA and its South African sponsors; Angola's role as a victim of South Africa's destructive regional policies was central to its international image during the 1980s.

In December 1988, Angola, South Africa, and Cuba reached a long-sought accord that promised to improve Luanda's relations with Pretoria. The primary goals of the United States-brokered talks were to end South Africa's illegal occupation of Namibia and remove Cuba's massive military presence from Angola. Vital economic assistance from the United States was a corollary benefit of the peace process, conditioned on Cuba's withdrawal and the MPLA-PT's rapprochement with UNITA. Despite doubts about the intentions of all three parties to the accord, international hopes for peace in southwestern Africa were high.

The Constitution
<>Executive Branch
The President
<>Council of Ministers
Defense and Security Council
<>Legislative Branch
<>Judicial System
<>Local Administration
Mass Organizations
<>Interest Groups
Peasant Farmers
Traditional Elites
Religious Communities

Angola - Government and Politics - BACKGROUND

Political units in southwestern Africa evolved into complex structures long before the arrival of the first Portuguese traveler, Diogo C o, in 1483. The Bantu-speaking and Khoisan- speaking hunters the Portuguese encountered were descendants of those who had peopled most of the region for centuries. Pastoral and agricultural villages and kingdoms had also arisen in the northern and central plateaus. One of the largest of these, the Kongo Kingdom, provided the earliest resistance to Portuguese domination. The Bakongo (people of Kongo) and their southern neighbors, the Mbundu, used the advantage of their large population and centralized organization to exploit their weaker neighbors for the European slave trade.

To facilitate nineteenth-century policies emphasizing the extraction of mineral and agricultural resources, colonial officials reorganized villages and designed transportation routes to expedite marketing these resources. Colonial policy also encouraged interracial marriage but discouraged education among Africans, and the resulting racially and culturally stratified population included people of mixed ancestry (mestiços), educated Angolans (assimilados who identified with Portuguese cultural values, and the majority of the African population that remained uneducated and unassimilated indígenas. Opportunities for economic advancement were apportioned according to racial stereotypes, and even in the 1960s schools were admitting barely more than 2 percent of the school-age African population each year.

Portugal resisted demands for political independence long after other European colonial powers had relinquished direct control of their African possessions. After unsuccessfully seeking support from the United Nations (UN) in 1959, educated Luandans organized a number of resistance groups based on ethnic and regional loyalties. By the mid-1970s, four independence movements vied with one another for leadership of the emerging nation.

The MPLA, established by mestiços and educated workers in Luanda, drew its support from urban areas and the Mbundu population that surrounded the capital city. The Union of Peoples of Northern Angola (União das Populações do Norte de Angola -- UPNA) was founded to defend Bakongo interests. The UPNA soon dropped its northern emphasis and became the Union of Angolan Peoples (União das Populações de Angola -- UPA) in an attempt to broaden its ethnic constituency, although it rebuffed consolidation attempts by other associations. The UPA, in turn, formed the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (Frente Nacional de Libertação de Angola -- FNLA) in 1962, when it merged with other northern dissident groups.

A variety of interpretations of Marxist philosophy emerged during the 1950s and 1960s, a period when Western nations refused to pressure Portugal (a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization--NATO) to upgrade political life in its colonies. The Portuguese Communist Party (Partido Comunista Português--PCP) helped organize African students in Lisbon and encouraged them to press for independence. A campaign of arrests and forced exile crushed most Angolan nationalist leadership, but in Portugal underground antifascist groups were gaining strength, and Angolan liberation movements flourished. The MPLA established its headquarters in Léopoldville, Belgian Congo (present-day Kinshasa, Zaire), and in 1962, after a period of exile and imprisonment, Agostinho Neto became head of the MPLA.

Neto, a physician, poet, and philosopher, strengthened the MPLA's left-wing reputation with his rhetorical blend of socialist ideology and humanist values. He also led the group in protests against enforced cotton cultivation, discriminatory labor policies, and colonial rule in general. MPLA and UPA leaders agreed to cooperate, but long-standing animosities led members of these two groups to sabotage each other's efforts. Within the MPLA, leadership factions opposed each other on ideological grounds and policy issues, but with guidance from the Soviet Union they resolved most of their disputes by concentrating power in their high command. Soviet military assistance also increased in response to the growing commitment to building a socialist state.

In April 1974, the Portuguese army overthrew the regime in Lisbon, and its successor began dismantling Portugal's colonial empire. In November 1974, Lisbon agreed to grant independence. However, after centuries of colonial neglect, Angola's African population was poorly prepared for self-government: there were few educated or trained leaders and almost none with national experience. Angola's liberation armies contested control of the new nation, and the coalition established by the Alvor Agreement in January 1975 quickly disintegrated.

Events in Angola in 1975 were catastrophic. Major factors that contributed to the violence that dogged Angola's political development for over a decade were the incursions into northern Angola by the United States-backed and Zairian-backed FNLA; an influx of Cuban advisers and, later, troops providing the MPLA with training and combat support; South African incursions in the south; UNITA attacks in the east and south, some with direct troop support from Pretoria; and dramatic increases in Soviet matériel and other assistance to the MPLA. Accounts of the sequence of these critical events differed over the next decade and a half, but most observers agreed that by the end of 1975 Angola was effectively embroiled in a civil war and that growing Soviet, Cuban, South African, and United States involvement in that war made peace difficult to achieve.

International recognition came slowly to the MPLA, which controlled only the northern third of the nation by December 1975. A small number of former Portuguese states and Soviet allies recognized the regime, and Nigeria led the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in granting recognition. The FNLA and UNITA attempted unsuccessfully to establish a rival government in the Angolan town of Huambo, but no one outside Angola recognized their regime. By the end of 1976, Angola was a member of the UN and was recognized by most other African states, but its domestic legitimacy remained in question.

MPLA leader Neto had avoided ideological labels during the struggle for independence, although the MPLA never concealed the Marxist bias of some of its members. Neto viewed Marxist-Leninist orthodoxy as a means of unifying and organizing Angola's diverse society and of establishing agricultural growth as the basis for economic development. He also hoped to avoid disenfranchising urban workers or encouraging the growth of a rural bourgeoisie, while maintaining crucial military support from the Soviet Union and Cuba.

One of the MPLA's many slogans, "people's power" (poder popular), had won broad support for the group before independence, especially in Luanda, where neighborhood self-help groups were formed to defend residents of poor and working-class neighborhoods against armed banditry. This movement was quickly curtailed by the police, but people's power remained a popular symbol of the demand for political participation. After independence, despite constitutional guarantees of people's power, the slogan became a symbol of unrealized expectations. President Neto, despite his democratic ideals, quickly developed an autocratic governing style. He introduced austerity measures and productivity campaigns and countered the resulting popular discontent with an array of security and intelligence operations.

Industrial workers, who were among the first to organize for people's power, found their newly formed unions absorbed into the MPLA-controlled National Union of Angolan Workers (União Nacional dos Trabalhadores Angolanos--UNTA), and the party began to absorb other popular organizations into the party structure. Students, laborers, and peasant farmers agitated against what they perceived as a mestiço-dominated political elite, and this resentment, even within the ranks of the MPLA itself, culminated in an abortive coup attempt led by the former minister of interior, Nito Alves, in May 1977.

In the aftermath of the 1977 Nitista coup attempt, the MPLA redefined the rules for party membership. After the First Party Congress in December 1977 affirmed the Central Committee's decision to proclaim its allegiance to Marxist-Leninist ideals, the MPLA officially became a "workers' party" and added "-PT" (for "Partido de Trabalho") to its acronym. In 1978 its leaders began a purge of party cadres, announcing a "rectification campaign" to correct policies that had allowed the Nitista factions and other "demagogic" tendencies to develop. The MPLA-PT reduced its numbers from more than 100,000 to about 31,000, dropping members the party perceived as lacking dedication to the socialist revolution. Most of those purged were farmers or educated mestiços, especially those whose attitudes were considered "petit bourgeois." Urban workers, in contrast to rural peasants, were admitted to the MPLA-PT in fairly large numbers.

By the end of the 1970s, the ruling party was smaller, more unified, and more powerful, but it had lost standing in rural areas, and its strongest support still came from those it was attempting to purge--educated mestiços and assimilados. Progress was hampered by losses in membership, trade, and resources resulting from emigration and nearly two decades of warfare. The MPLA-PT attempted to impose austerity measures to cope with these losses, but in the bitter atmosphere engendered by the purges of the late 1970s, these policies further damaged MPLA-PT legitimacy. Pursuing the socialist revolution was not particularly important in non-Mbundu rural areas, in part because of the persistent impression that mestiços dominated the governing elite. National politicians claimed economic privilege and allowed corruption to flourish in state institutions, adding to the challenges faced by dos Santos, who became MPLA-PT leader in 1979.


The Constitution

Adopted in November 1975, independent Angola's first and only Constitution dedicates the new republic to eliminating the vestiges of Portuguese colonialism. The Constitution provides numerous guarantees of individual freedom and prohibits discrimination based on color, race, ethnic identity, sex, place of birth, religion, level of education, and economic or social status. The Constitution also promises freedom of expression and assembly.

Constitutional revisions in 1976 and 1980 more clearly establish the national goal of a revolutionary socialist, one-party state. As revised, the Constitution vests sovereignty in the Angolan people, guaranteed through the representation of the party, and promises to implement "people's power." It also emphasizes the preeminence of the party as policy-making body and makes the government subordinate to it. Government officials are responsible for implementing party policy. Economic development is founded on socialist models of cooperative ownership.

Other constitutional guarantees include health care, access to education, and state assistance in childhood, motherhood, disability, and old age. In return for these sweeping guarantees, each individual is responsible for participating in the nation's defense, voting in official elections, serving in public office if appointed or elected, working (which is considered both a right and a duty), and generally aiding in the socialist transformation.

Despite its strong socialist tone, the Constitution guarantees the protection of private property and private business activity within limits set by the state. National economic goals are to develop agriculture and industry, establish just social relations in all sectors of production, foster the growth of the public sector and cooperatives, and implement a system of graduated direct taxation. Social goals include combating illiteracy, promoting the development of education and a national culture, and enforcing strict separation of church and state, with official respect for all religions.

The Constitution also outlines Angola's defense policy. It explicitly prohibits foreign military bases on Angolan soil or affiliation with any foreign military organization. It institutionalizes the People's Armed Forces for the Liberation of Angola (Forças Armadas Populares de Libertação de Angola -- FAPLA) as the nation's army and assigns it responsibility for defense and national reconstruction. Military conscription applies to both men and women over the age of eighteen.

Angola - Executive Branch

Executive Branch

The President

Executive authority is vested in the president, his appointed ministers, and the Defense and Security Council. The president is selected as head of the MPLA-PT by the Political Bureau. His authority derives first from his status as head of the MPLA-PT and then from his preeminence in government. President dos Santos, like his predecessor, had wide-ranging powers as the leading figure in politics and the military. He was commander in chief of the armed forces and chairman of the Council of Ministers. He was also empowered to appoint and dismiss a wide variety of national and provincial officials, including military officers and provincial commissioners. The president could also designate an acting president from among the members of the MPLA-PT Political Bureau, but if he died or were disabled, his successor would be chosen by the Central Committee.

Angola - Council of Ministers

In late 1988, the Council of Ministers comprised twenty-one ministers and ministers of state. The seventeen ministerial portfolios included agriculture, construction, defense, domestic and foreign trade, education, finance, fisheries, foreign relations, health, industry, interior, justice, labor and social security, petroleum and energy, planning, state security, and transport and communications. Ministers were empowered to prepare the national budget and to make laws by decree, under authority designated by the national legislature, the People's Assembly, but most of the ministers' time was spent administering policy set by the MPLA-PT.

In February 1986, dos Santos appointed four ministers of state (who came to be known as "superministers") and assigned them responsibility for coordinating the activities of the Council of Ministers. Their portfolios were for the productive sphere; economic and social spheres; inspection and control; and town planning, housing, and water. Twelve ministries were placed under superministry oversight; the ministers of defense, foreign relations, interior, justice, and state security continued to report directly to the president. This change was part of an effort to coordinate policy, reduce overlapping responsibilities, eliminate unnecessary bureaucratic procedures, and bolster the government's reputation for efficiency in general. Most ministers and three of the four ministers of state were also high officials in the MPLA-PT, and their policy-making influence was exercised through the party rather than through the government.

Defense and Security Council

In May 1986, the president appointed eight respected advisers to the Defense and Security Council, including the ministers of defense, interior, and state security; the ministers of state for the economic and social spheres, inspection and control, and the productive sphere; the FAPLA chief of the general staff; and the MPLA-PT Central Committee secretary for ideology, information, and culture. The president chaired the council and gave it a broad mandate, including oversight and administration in military, economic, and diplomatic affairs. He strengthened this authority during the council's first five years by treating the council as an inner circle of close advisers. By 1988 the Defense and Security Council and the Political Bureau, both chaired by the president, were the most powerful decision-making bodies within the government and party, respectively.


Angola - Legislative Branch

The principle of people's power was enshrined in the 223-member People's Assembly, which replaced the Council of the Revolution as the nation's legislature in 1980. The primary purpose of the People's Assembly was to implement some degree of participatory democracy within the revolutionary state and to do so outside party confines. People's Assembly delegates did not have to be party members, and many were not. The planned electoral process was the election of 203 delegates to three-year terms by an electoral college. The electoral college, in turn, would be elected by universal suffrage. The remaining twenty delegates were to be elected by the Central Committee of the MPLA-PT. During the 1980s, implementation of this plan was obstructed by security problems and bureaucratic snarls. In 1980 the Central Committee elected all People's Assembly members. In 1983 the government's lack of control over many rural areas, combined with a dearth of accurate census data, prompted dos Santos to postpone the elections. The 1986 elections, actually held in 1987, consisted of mass meetings at which the names of nominees were presented on a list prepared by the existing People's Assembly. A few names were challenged and removed, but these lengthy public discussions did not constitute the democratic process required by the Constitution.

The People's Assembly met every six months to approve the national budget and development plan, enact legislation, and delegate responsibilities to its subcommittees. It also elected the twenty-five-member Permanent Commission to perform assembly functions between sessions. The president headed the Permanent Commission, which was dominated by members of the MPLA-PT Political Bureau. The subordination of the People's Assembly to the MPLA-PT was ensured by including high-level party officials among the former's appointed members and by frequent reminders of the preeminence of the party. The government's intention was to create people's assemblies at all levels of local administration in order to establish a government presence in remote areas and promote party-government contacts. The planned assemblies were an important symbol of people's power, although they were also intended to be controlled by the party elite.

Angola - Judicial System

The Ministry of Justice oversaw the nation's court system, which comprised the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, people's revolutionary courts, and a system of people's courts. High-level judges were appointed by the minister of justice. The Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals heard cases involving national officials and appeals from lower courts. People's revolutionary courts heard accusations related to national security, mercenary activity, or war crimes. They presided over both military and civilian cases, with senior military officers serving in a judicial capacity in military cases. Appeals were heard by appellate courts in each provincial capital.

People's courts were established in the late 1970s by the National Court Administration of the Ministry of Justice as part of a nationwide reorganization along Marxist-Leninist lines. The people's court system comprised criminal, police, and labor tribunals in each provincial capital and in a few other towns. The MPLA-PT Political Bureau appointed three judges--one professional and two lay magistrates--to preside over each people's courtroom and assigned them equal power and legal standing. Although the professional judges had substantial legal training, lay judges were appointed on a rotating basis from among a group of citizens who had some formal education and several weeks' introductory legal training. Some were respected leaders of local ethnic groups. No juries were empaneled in either civil or criminal cases, but judges sometimes sought the opinion of local residents in weighing decisions.

Angola - Local Administration

As of late 1988, Angola was divided into eighteen provinces (províncias) and 161 districts (municípios). Districts were further subdivided into quarters or communes (comunas), villages (povoações), and neighborhoods (bairros). Administration at each level was the responsibility of a commissioner, who was appointed by the president at the provincial, district, and commune levels and elected at the village and neighborhood levels. The eighteen provincial commissioners were ex-officio members of the executive branch of the national government. The supreme organ of state power was the national People's Assembly. Provincial people's assemblies comprised between fifty-five and eighty-five delegates, charged with implementing MPLA-PT directives. People's assemblies were also envisioned, but not yet operational in late 1988, at each subnational level of administration.

In 1983 the president created a system of regional military councils to oversee a range of local concerns with security implications. High-ranking military officers, reporting directly to the president, headed these councils. Their authority superseded that of other provincial administrators and allowed them to impose a state of martial law within areas threatened by insurgency. The boundaries of military regions and the provinces did not coincide exactly. Until 1988 ten regional military councils were in operation. In early 1988, however, the Ministry of Defense, citing this structure as inadequate, announced the formation of four fronts.



During the 1960s, the MPLA established its headquarters at Kinshasa, Zaire, and then at Lusaka, Zambia, and Brazzaville, Congo. The MPLA's scattered bases and diverse constituent groups contributed to disunity and disorganization, problems that were exacerbated by personal and ideological differences among party leaders. The first serious split occurred in 1973, when Daniel Chipenda led a rebellion, sometimes termed the Eastern Revolt, in protest against the party's mestiço-dominated leadership and Soviet interference in Angolan affairs. Chipenda and his followers were expelled from the MPLA, and many joined the northern-based FNLA in 1975. Then in 1974, about seventy left-wing MPLA supporters based in Brazzaville broke with Agostinho Neto. This opposition movement became known as the Active Revolt. Shortly after independence, a third split occurred within the party, culminating in the 1977 coup attempt by Nito Alves. Later in 1977, the MPLA transformed itself into a Marxist-Leninist vanguard party and launched a lengthy rectification campaign to unify its membership, impose party discipline, and streamline decision-making processes.

In 1980 Angola was governed by a new head of state under a newly revised Constitution. The nation's first legislature, the People's Assembly, served as a symbol of people's power, but state organs were clearly subordinate to those of the party. Within the MPLA-PT, channels for political participation were being narrowed. Both government and party leaders established a hierarchy of organizations through which they hoped to mobilize rural populations and broaden political support. At the same time, MPLAPT leaders launched programs to impose party discipline on the party's cadres and indoctrinate all segments of society in their proper role in political development.

Overall goals were relatively easy to agree upon, but poverty and insecurity exacerbated disagreements over specific strategies for attaining these objectives. By the mid-1980s, the party had three major goals--incorporating the population into the political process, imposing party discipline on its cadres, and reconciling the diverse factions that arose to dispute these efforts. Some MPLA-PT officials sought to control political participation by regulating party membership and strengthening discipline, while others believed the MPLA-PT had wasted valuable resources in the self-perpetuating cycle of government repression and popular dissent. President dos Santos sought to resolve disputes that did not seem to threaten his office. However, much of the MPLA-PT's political agenda, already impeded by civil war and regional instability, was further obstructed by these intraparty disputes.


In many Third World states, the president was the paramount leader, and in this regard Angola was no exception. Its president, José Eduardo dos Santos, combined strong party loyalty with political pragmatism. This loyalty had political and personal bases. Dos Santos owed much of his success to the MPLA, which he had joined in 1962 at the age of nineteen. The party sponsored his study at Baku University in the Soviet Union from 1963 to 1970. In 1974 MPLA leader Neto appointed dos Santos to the Central Committee, which elected him to its elite Political Bureau; this group elected him to succeed Neto, who died in 1979. Dos Santos traveled to the Soviet Union a few weeks later to confirm his revolutionary agenda as president.

Dos Santos's loyalty to Marxism-Leninism was founded in his student years in the Soviet Union, where he also married a Soviet citizen (who later returned to her homeland). There, he developed his belief in the vanguard party as the best strategy for mobilizing Angola's largely rural population. At the same time, however, he professed belief in a mixed economy, some degree of decentralization, an expanded private sector, and Western investment. Like many African leaders, he did not equate political eclecticism with internal contradiction, nor did he view Angola's political posture as an invitation to Soviet domination.

Dos Santos did not embrace Marxism for its utopian appeal; his view of Angolan society after the envisioned socialist transformation did not lack internal conflict. Rather, he viewed Marxist-Leninist organizational tenets as the most practical basis for mobilizing a society in which the majority lacked economic and educational opportunities. A small vanguard leadership, with proper motivation and training, could guide the population through the early stages of national development, in his view, and this approach could improve the lives of more people than capitalist investment and profit making by a small minority. During the 1980s, because trade with the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe failed to develop and because Western technical expertise appeared vital to Angola's development, dos Santos favored improved political relations with the West as a step toward peace and greater prosperity. Although he had scorned his predecessor's shift in the same direction in the late 1970s, dos Santos denied that his move signaled a weakening commitment to Marxism.

Despite his strong party loyalty, in the late 1980s dos Santos was known as a political pragmatist. He sometimes spoke out against the MPLA-PT's most extreme ideologues and took steps to limit their influence. He openly criticized the results of the rectification campaign of the late 1970s, which, in his view, had removed too many loyal members from the party's rolls. He also recognized that the campaign had alienated much of the nation's peasant majority, that they remained indifferent toward party programs in the late 1980s, and that they had not benefited from many MPLA-PT policies.

Political pragmatism was not to be confused with a liberal style of governing. In response to security crises and public criticism, dos Santos ordered arrests, detentions without trial, and occasional executions. He concentrated power in his office and narrowed his circle of close advisers. He enlarged the executive branch of government by appointing new ministers of state to coordinate executive branch activity and convinced the MPLA-PT Central Committee to entrust him with emergency powers. Dos Santos also persuaded party leaders to empower him to appoint regional military councils that had sweeping authority over civilian and military affairs in unstable regions of the country and that were answerable only to the president.

Dos Santos further consolidated his hold on executive authority in April 1984 by establishing the Defense and Security Council. In 1985 he enlarged the party Central Committee from sixty to ninety members and alternates, thus diluting the strength of its staunch ideological faction.

Undermining potential opponents was not dos Santos's only motivation for consolidating power within the executive branch of government. He was also impatient with bureaucratic "red tape," even when justified in the name of party discipline. Accordingly, the primary qualification for his trusted advisers was a balance of competence, efficiency, and loyalty. Rhetorical skills, which he generally lacked, were not given particular priority; ideological purity was even less important. His advice for economic recovery was summed up as "produce, repair, and rehabilitate." The direct, relatively nonideological governing style exemplified by this approach earned dos Santos substantial respect and a few strong critics.

Economic and security crises worsened during the first nine years of dos Santos's presidency, draining resources that might have been used to improve living standards and education. The president rejected advice from party ideologues, whose primary aim was to develop a sophisticated Marxist-Leninist party apparatus. Rather than emphasize centralized control and party discipline, dos Santos embraced a plan to decentralize economic decision making in 1988. He then appointed Minister of Planning Lopo do Nascimento to serve as commissioner of Huíla Province in order to implement this plan in a crucial region of the country.

The 1985 Second Party Congress assented to the president's growing power by approving several of his choices for top government office as party officials. Among these was Roberto de Almeida, a member of the Defense and Security Council in his capacity as the MPLA-PT secretary for ideology, information, and culture and one of dos Santos' close advisers. Party leaders elected Almeida, a mestiço, to both the MPLA-PT Central Committee and the Political Bureau.

Demoted from the top ranks of the party were the leading ideologue, Lúcio Lára, and veteran mestiço leaders Paulo Jorge and Henrique Carreira (nom de guerre Iko). The split between ideologues and political moderates did not render the party immobile, in part because of dos Santos's skill at using Angola's internal and external threats to unite MPLA-PT factions. The everpresent UNITA insurgency provided a constant reminder of the frailty of the nation's security.


Mass Organizations

Three mass organizations were affiliated with the MPLA-PT in 1988--the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola-Youth Movement (Juventude do Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola -- JMPLA), the Organization of Angolan Women (Organização da Mulher Angolana--OMA), and the UNTA. Each was founded as an anticolonial social movement during the 1960s and transformed into a party affiliate when the MPLA-PT became a vanguard party in 1977. Although these groups were formally subordinate to the party in accordance with Marxist-Leninist doctrine, they continued to operate with relative autonomy. Strict party ideologues objected to this independence and sometimes treated organization leaders with contempt. The resulting tensions added to public resentment of party discipline and became a political issue when Neto accused leaders of the JMPLA, the OMA, and the UNTA of supporting the Nitista coup attempt of 1977. Alves, the coup leader, had criticized MPLA-PT leaders for bourgeois attitudes and racism, and many people in these organizations supported Alves's allegations.

In the late 1970s, mass organizations became an important target of the rectification campaign. Their role in society was redefined to emphasize the dissemination of information about party policy and the encouragement of participation in programs. Throughout most of the next decade, MPLA-PT officials continued to criticize the lack of coordination of organizational agenda with party needs. The mass organizations became centers of public resentment of MPLA-PT controls, but these groups were not yet effective at organizing or mobilizing against MPLA-PT rule.

Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola-Youth Movement

The JMPLA was founded in 1962 and converted into a training ground for MPLA-PT activists in 1977. It claimed a membership of 72,000, mostly teenagers and students, in 1988. The JMPLA conducted military exercises and political study groups, measuring success within the group primarily by an individual's commitment to the socialist revolution. The Second Congress of the JMPLA was held on April 14, 1987, a date that was also celebrated as National Youth Day.

Despite the symbolic and practical importance of the political role of the nation's youth, MPLA-PT officials generally had a derisive attitude toward JMPLA leaders during the 1980s. At the MPLA-PT congresses of 1980 and 1985, party officials criticized youth leaders for their failure to encourage political activism. They also remonstrated against youth group officials for the bourgeois attitudes, materialism, and political apathy they detected among children and teenagers. One measure of these problems was the continued urban influx among young people, which impeded MPLA-PT efforts at rural mobilization.

MPLA-PT leaders assigned the JMPLA the task of guiding the national children's organization, the Agostinho Neto Organization of Pioneers (Organização dos Pioneiros Agostinho Neto--OPA). The goal of the OPA was to educate all children in patriotic values, socialism, and the importance of study, work, and scientific knowledge. Founded as the Pioneers in 1975, the group took the name of the nation's first president at its second conference in November 1979, following Neto's death. JMPLA leaders generally viewed the OPA as a recruiting ground for potential political activists.

National Union of Angolan Workers

The UNTA was organized in 1960 in the Belgian Congo (presentday Zaire) to assist refugees and exiled MPLA members in their efforts to maintain social contacts and find jobs. Managing the UNTA became more difficult after independence. The UNTA headquarters was transferred to Luanda, where the shortage of skilled workers and personnel for management and training programs became immediately evident. UNTA leaders worked to transform the group from an adjunct to a national liberation army to a state labor union, but encouraged by the "people's power" movement, many workers thought the MPLA victory entitled them to assume control of their workplace. UNTA leaders found that workers' rights were sometimes given a lower priority than workers' obligations, and at times industrial workers found themselves at odds with both the government and their own union leadership. These tensions were exacerbated by the demands of militant workers who favored more sweeping nationalization programs than those undertaken by the government; some workers opposed any compensation of foreign owners.

During the early 1980s, Cuban advisers were assigned to bring industrial workers into the MPLA-PT. With their Angolan counterparts in the UNTA, Cuban shop stewards and union officials undertook educational programs in technical and management training, labor discipline and productivity, and socialist economics. Their overall goal was to impart a sense of worker participation in the management of the state economy--a difficult task in an environment characterized by warfare and economic crisis. By late 1988, the Cubans had achieved mixed success. Some of the UNTA's 600,000 members looked forward to the prosperity they hoped to achieve through MPLA-PT policies; many others felt their links to the government did little to improve their standard of living, and they were relatively uncommitted to the construction of a socialist state. UNTA officers did not aggressively represent worker interests when they conflicted with those of the party, and the fear of labor unrest became part of Angola's political context.

Organization of Angolan Women

The OMA was established in 1963 to mobilize support for the fledgling MPLA. After independence, it became the primary route by which women were incorporated in the political process. Its membership rose to 1.8 million in 1985 but dropped to less than 1.3 million in 1987. The group attributed this decline to the regional destabilization and warfare that displaced and destroyed families in rural areas, where more than two-thirds of OMA members lived. In 1983 Ruth Neto, the former president's sister, was elected secretary general of the OMA and head of its fifty-three-member national committee. Neto was reelected secretary general by the 596 delegates who attended the OMA's second nationwide conference on March 2, 1988.

During the 1980s, the OMA established literacy programs and worked to expand educational opportunities for women, and the government passed new legislation outlawing gender discrimination in wages and working conditions. MPLA-PT rhetoric emphasized equality between the sexes as a prerequisite to a prosperous socialist state. At both the First Party Congress and the Second Party Congress, the MPLA-PT Central Committee extolled contributions made by women, but in 1988 only 10 percent of MPLA-PT members were women, and the goal of equality remained distant. Through the OMA, some women were employed in health and social service organizations, serving refugees and rural families. More women were finding jobs in teaching and professions from which they had been excluded in the past, and a very small number occupied important places in government and the MPLA-PT. However, most Angolan women were poor and unemployed.

In addition to leading the OMA, Ruth Neto also served on the MPLA-PT Central Committee and as secretary general of the PanAfrican Women's Organization (PAWO), which had its headquarters in Luanda. The PAWO helped sponsor Angola's annual celebration of Women's Day (August 9), which was also attended by representatives from neighboring states and liberation movements in South Africa and Namibia.

Angola - Interest Groups

Peasant Farmers

In the early 1970s, rural volunteers were the backbone of the MPLA fighting forces, but after independence few peasant fighters were given leadership positions in the party. In fact, most farmers were purged from the party during the rectification campaign of the late 1970s for their lack of political commitment or revolutionary zeal. Criteria for party membership were stricter for farmers than for urban workers, and a decade later MPLA-PT leaders generally conceded that the worker-peasant alliance, on which the socialist transformation depended, had been weakened by the rectification campaign. When debating the reasons for this failure, some MPLA-PT members argued that their urban-based leadership had ignored rural demands and implemented policies favoring urban residents. Others claimed that the party had allowed farmers to place their own interests above those of society and that they were beginning to emerge as the rural bourgeoisie denounced by Marxist-Leninist leaders in many countries.

Policies aimed at rural development in the early 1980s had called for the establishment of state farms to improve productivity of basic foodstuffs in the face of shortages in equipment and technical experts. Cuban and Bulgarian farm managers were put in charge of most of these farms. These advisers' objectives were to introduce the use of mechanization and chemical fertilizers and to inculcate political awareness. By the mid-1980s, however, the salaries of foreign technical experts and the cost of new equipment far outweighed revenues generated by these state enterprises, and the program was abandoned.

Many farmers reverted to subsistence agriculture in the face of the spreading UNITA insurgency and what they often perceived as government neglect. Convincing them to produce surplus crops for markets presented formidable problems for party leaders. UNITA forces sometimes claimed crops even before they were harvested, and urban traders seldom ventured into insecure rural areas. Even if a farmer were able to sell surplus crops, the official price was often unrealistically low, and few consumer goods were available in rural markets even for those with cash.

In response to the apparent intransigence of some rural Angolans, the MPLA-PT attempted another strategy for mobilizing political support by creating farmers' cooperatives and organizing them into unions to provide channels of communication between farmers and party leaders. In late 1988, these unions represented only a small percentage of the rural population, but some party leaders still expected them to succeed. Rural resentment of the urban-based MPLA-PT leadership was still fairly widespread, however, and this resentment contributed to the success of UNITA in Angola's southern and eastern provinces.

Traditional Elites

In the late 1980s, President dos Santos was working to strengthen his support among the nation's traditional leaders. Every few weeks, he would invite delegations of provincial and local-level representatives to meet with him, and Angop would headline these meetings with "the chiefs." Their discussions focused on regional economic and social concerns and served the important political purpose of demonstrating the government's desire to avoid confrontation and to secure support in rural areas.

The MPLA had a neutral relationship with traditional elites before independence, in part because the urban-based party had little contact with ethnic group leaders, whose following was strongest in rural areas. After independence, in its determination to improve the national economy and infrastructure, the MPLA called on people to rise above ethnic and regional loyalties, labeling them impediments to progress in the class struggle. Early MPLA rhetoric also condemned many religious practices, including local African religions. Such policies provoked the contempt of some traditional leaders.

Crises were dampened somewhat by the party's often confrontational relationship with the civil service during the early 1970s. Civil servants, as representatives of the colonial regime, had often clashed with traditional leaders or had otherwise subverted their authority. The MPLA, in contrast, condemned the elitist attitudes of bureaucrats who were employed by the colonial regime, thus gaining support from traditional rulers. At the same time, however, the party drew much of its support from the petite bourgeoisie it condemned so loudly, and much of the civil service remained intact after independence.

By 1980 MPLA-PT efforts to consolidate support in outlying regions were evident. Party officials appointed ethnic group leaders to participate in or lead local party committees in many areas. Merging traditional and modern leadership roles helped strengthen support among rural peasants who would have otherwise remained on the periphery of national politics. Although success was limited to a few areas, this program allowed dos Santos to maintain a balance between national and regional interests. Even some party ideologues, initially inclined toward strict interpretations of Marxist-Leninist dogma, voiced the belief that populist elements might be appropriate for a Marxist regime in an African context.

Religious Communities

The MPLA-PT maintained a cautious attitude toward religion in the late 1980s, in contrast to its determination in the late 1970s to purge churchgoers from the party. A 1980 Ministry of Justice decree required all religious institutions to register with the government. As of 1987, eleven Protestant institutions were legally recognized: the Assembly of God, the Baptist Convention of Angola, the Baptist Evangelical Church of Angola, the Congregational Evangelical Church of Angola, the Evangelical Church of Angola, the Evangelical Church of South-West Angola, the Our Lord Jesus Christ Church in the World (Kimbanquist), the Reformed Evangelical Church of Angola, the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, the Union of Evangelical Churches of Angola, and the United Methodist Church. Roberto de Almeida, the MPLA-PT Central Committee secretary for ideology, information, and culture, admonished church leaders not to perpetuate oppressive or elitist attitudes, and he specifically warned that the churches would not be allowed to take a neutral stance in the battle against opponents of the MPLA-PT regime.

The official attitude toward religion reflected the ideological split in the party leadership. Staunch party ideologues, who had purged almost all churchgoers during the rectification campaign of the late 1970s, opposed leniency toward anyone claiming or recognizing moral authority outside the regime. But as they had done in regard to traditional leaders, the president and his close associates weighed the balance between ideological purity and political necessity and soon moderated their antireligious stance. Political opposition had not coalesced around religious leaders, and, in general, the fear of religious opposition was weakening in the late 1980s.

Employing Marxist-Leninist diatribes against the oppression of the working class, only the most strident ideologues in the MPLA-PT maintained their opposition to religion. The Roman Catholic Church was still strongly identified with the colonial oppressor, and Protestant missionaries were sometimes condemned for having supported colonial practices. More serious in the government's view in the late 1980s was the use by its foremost opponent, Jonas Savimbi, of the issue of religion to recruit members and support for his UNITA insurgency. Savimbi's Church of Christ in the Bush had become an effective religious affiliate of UNITA, maintaining schools, clinics, and training programs.

Small religious sects were annoying to MPLA-PT officials. The ruling party suspected such groups of having foreign sponsors or of being used by opponents of the regime. To the government, the sects' relative independence from world religions was a gauge of their potential for political independence as well. Watch Tower and Seventh-Day Adventist sects were suspect, but they were not perceived as serious political threats. However, the Jehovah's Witnesses were banned entirely in 1978 because of their proscription on military service.

During the late 1980s, security officials considered the small Our Lord Jesus Christ Church in the World to be a threat to the regime, despite the fact that the Mtokoists, as they were known, were not particularly interested in national politics. Their founder, Simon Mtoko (also known as Simão Toco), had been expelled from Angola by the Portuguese in 1950 for preaching adherence to African cultural values. He returned to Angola in 1974 but soon clashed with MPLA leaders over the regime's authority over individual beliefs. He opposed the party's Marxist rhetoric on cultural grounds until his death in 1984. After his death, officials feared the group would splinter into dissident factions. The church was legally recognized in 1988 even though Mtokoists clashed with police in 1987 and 1988, resulting in arrests and some casualties.


After thirteen years of national independence, Angola's armed forces, FAPLA, remained pitted against UNITA in a civil war that had erupted out of the preindependence rivalry among liberation armies. The FNLA and the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (Frente para a Libertação do Enclave de Cabinda--FLEC) lost popular support during the first decade of independence, and, as a result, in 1988 UNITA remained the only serious internal threat to the dos Santos regime. Few Angolans expected either UNITA or government forces to achieve a military victory, but the political impact of the UNITA insurgency was substantial nonetheless.

Jonas Savimbi established UNITA in 1966. Leading a group of dissident members from the northern coalition that included the FNLA, he established a rival liberation movement that sought to avoid domination by Holden Roberto and his Bakongo followers. UNITA recruits from Savimbi's Ovimbundu homeland and from among the Chokwe (also spelled Cokwe), Lunda, Nganguela (also spelled Ganguela), and other southern Angolan societies sought to preserve elements of their own cultures. Some southerners also maintained centuries-old legacies of distrust toward northern ethnic groups, including the Bakongo and the Mbundu.

Savimbi's legitimacy as a dissident leader was acquired in part through the reputation of his grandfather, who had led the Ovimbundu state of Ndulu in protest against Portuguese rule in the early twentieth century. From his father, Savimbi acquired membership and belief in the United Church of Christ, which organized Ovimbundu villages into networks to assist in mission operations under colonial rule. One of these networks formed the Council of Evangelical Churches, a pan-Ovimbundu umbrella organization that united more than 100,000 people in south-central Angola. They were served by mission schools, training centers, and clinics, with near-autonomy from colonial controls. Local leaders, who staffed some of these establishments, voiced their demands for greater political freedom, and colonial authorities moved to suppress the Council of Evangelical Churches as pressures for independence mounted in the 1960s.

The territory in southeastern Angola controlled by UNITA in the late 1980s included part of the area that had been administered by the Council of Evangelical Churches before independence. Here, many people supported Savimbi's struggle against the MPLA-PT as an extension of the long struggle for Ovimbundu, not Angolan, nationhood. UNITA-run schools and clinics operated with the same autonomy from Luandan bureaucratic control as their mission-sponsored counterparts had before independence.

Ethnic loyalties remained strong in the southeast and other UNITA-controlled areas of rural Angola. Class solidarity, in comparison, was an almost meaningless abstraction. Savimbi was able to portray the class-conscious MPLA-PT in Luanda in terms that contrasted sharply with models of leadership among the Ovimbundu and other central and southern Angolan peoples. He described party leaders as a racially stratified elite, dominated by Soviet and Cuban advisers who also provided arms to suppress the population. The MPLA-PT's early assaults on organized religion reinforced this image. Many rural Angolans were also keenly aware that the party elite in Luanda lived at a much higher standard than did Savimbi's commanders in the bush. And they carefully noted that people in rural areas under MPLA-PT control still lived in poverty and that the government bureaucracy was notoriously inefficient and corrupt.

UNITA's regimented leadership, in turn, presented itself as the protector of rural African interests against outsiders. Through Savimbi's skilled public relations efforts, his organization became known as a local peasant uprising, fighting for political and religious freedom. Savimbi had no headquarters in other countries and took pride in the humble life-style of his command in Jamba, well within UNITA-held territory. On this basis, he won some support in the south and east, gained volunteers for UNITA forces, and slowed government efforts to extend MPLA-PT control into the countryside. In the late 1980s, however, international human rights organizations accused UNITA of human rights abuses, charging that UNITA was intimidating civilians to force them to support UNITA or to withhold support for the MPLA-PT.

For the government, the ever-present threat of the UNITA insurgency served a number of useful purposes. It helped rally support for party unity in the capital and surrounding areas. The government was able to capitalize on the reputation for brutality that grew up around some UNITA commanders and the destruction of rural resources by UNITA forces. Young amputees in Luanda and other towns provided a constant reminder of the several thousand land mines left in rural farmland by Savimbi's troops. UNITA activity also provided an immediate example of the party ideologues' stereotype of destabilization sponsored by international capitalist forces. These forces were, in turn, embodied in the regional enemy, South Africa. The UNITA insurgency also enabled the MPLA-PT government to justify the continued presence of Cuban troops in Angola, and it helped maintain international interest in Angola's political difficulties.

The regional accord reached in December 1988 by Angolan, South African, and Cuban negotiators did not address Angola's internal violence, but in informal discussions among the participants, alternatives were suggested for ending the conflict. Western negotiators pressured the MPLA-PT to bring UNITA officials into the government, and even within the party, many people hoped that UNITA representatives--excluding Savimbi--would be reconciled with the dos Santos government. Savimbi, in turn, offered to recognize dos Santos's leadership on the condition that free elections, as promised by the 1975 Alvor Agreement, would take place after the withdrawal of Cuban troops.


The government nationalized all print and broadcast media in 1976, and as of late 1988 the government and party still controlled almost all the news media. Angola's official news agency, Angop, distributed about 8,000 issues of the government newsletter, Diário de República, and 40,000 copies of Jornal de Angola daily in Luanda and other urban areas under FAPLA control. Both publications were in Portuguese. International press operations in Luanda included Agence France-Presse, Cuba's Prensa Latina, Xinhua (New China) News Agency, and several Soviet and East European agency offices.

Under the scrutiny of the MPLA-PT, the media were limited to disseminating official policy without critical comment or opposing viewpoints. The Angolan Journalists' Union, which proclaimed the right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by the Constitution, nonetheless worked closely with the MPLA-PT and pressured writers to adhere to government guidelines. Views differing slightly from official perceptions were published in the UNTA monthly newsletter, O Voz do Trabalhador, despite active censorship.

Rádio Nacional de Angola was the largest of eighteen mediumwave and short-wave stations operating throughout the country. Radio broadcasts were in Portuguese and vernacular languages, and there were an estimated 435,000 receivers in 1988. In the late 1980s, people in central and southern Angola also received opposition radio broadcasts from the Voice of Resistance of the Black Cockerel, operated by UNITA in Portuguese, English, and local vernaculars. Limited television service in Portuguese became available in Luanda and surrounding areas in 1976, but by 1988 there were only about 40,500 television sets in the country.

Angop maintained a cooperative relationship with the Soviet news agency, TASS, and Angola was active in international efforts to improve coordination among nonaligned nations in the field of communications. Information ministers and news agency representatives from several Third World nations were scheduled to hold their fifth conference in Luanda in June 1989--their first meeting since 1985, when they met in Havana. The Angop delegation was to serve as host of the 1989 conference, and Angolan information officials in the government and party were to chair the organization from 1989 to 1992.

Angola was also a leader among Portuguese-speaking nations of Africa. Students from these nations attended the Interstate Journalism School in Luanda, which opened May 23, 1987, with support from the Yugoslav news agency, Tanyug. In September 1987, journalists from these five Lusophone nations held their third conference in Bissau, Guinea-Bissau. A major goal of this group was to coordinate cultural development based on their common language, but an important secondary goal was to demonstrate support for Angola in its confrontation with South Africa. By 1990 they hoped to celebrate the Pan-African News Agency's opening of a Portuguese desk in Luanda.



Angola's foreign relations reflected the ambivalence of its formal commitment to Marxism-Leninism and its dependence on Western investment and trade. Overall policy goals were to resolve this dual dependence--to achieve regional and domestic peace, reduce the need for foreign military assistance, enhance economic selfsufficiency through diversified trade relations, and establish Angola as a strong socialist state. MPLA-PT politicians described Angola's goal as geopolitical nonalignment, but throughout most of the 1980s Angola's foreign policy had a pronounced pro-Soviet bias.

Two groups within the MPLA-PT and one council within the executive branch vied for influence over foreign policy, all under the direct authority of the president. Formal responsibility for foreign policy programs lay with the MPLA-PT Central Committee. Within this committee, the nine members of the Secretariat and the five others who were members of the Political Bureau wielded decisive influence. The Political Bureau, in its role as guardian of the revolution, usually succeeded in setting the Central Committee agenda.

During the 1980s, as head of both the party and the government, dos Santos strengthened the security role of the executive branch of government, thereby weakening the control of the Central Committee and Political Bureau. To accomplish this redistribution of power, in 1984 he created the Defense and Security Council as an executive advisory body, and he appointed to this council the six most influential ministers, the FAPLA chief of the general staff, and the Central Committee secretary for ideology, information, and culture. The mandate of this council was to review and coordinate the implementation of security-related policy efforts among ministries. The Ministry of Foreign Relations was more concerned with diplomatic and economic affairs than with security matters.

Southern Africa's regional conflict determined much of Angola's foreign policy direction during the 1980s. Negotiations to end South Africa's illegal occupation of Namibia succeeded in linking Namibian independence to the removal of Cuban troops from Angola. The Cuban presence and that of South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO) and African National Congress (ANC) bases in Angola bolstered Pretoria's claims of a Soviet-sponsored onslaught against the apartheid state. On the grounds that an independent Namibia would enlarge the territory available to Pretoria's enemies and make South Africa's borders even more vulnerable, South Africa maintained possession of Namibia, which it had held since World War I. Pretoria launched incursions into Angola throughout most of the 1980s and supported Savimbi's UNITA forces as they extended their control throughout eastern Angola.

The MPLA-PT pursued its grass-roots campaign to mobilize peasant support, and UNITA sought to capitalize on the fear of communism to enhance its popularity outside rural Ovimbundu areas. Many Angolans accepted MPLA-PT condemnations of the West but balanced them against the fact that Western oil companies in Cabinda provided vital revenues and foreign exchange and the fact that the United States purchased much of Angola's oil. Moreover, in one of Africa's many ironies that arose from balancing the dual quest for political sovereignty and economic development, Cuban and Angolan troops guarded American and other Western companies against attack by South African commandos or UNITA forces (which were receiving United States assistance).

Angola - Regional Politics

Most African governments maintained generally cautious support of the Luanda regime during most of its first thirteen years in power. African leaders recognized Luanda's right to reject Western alignments and opt for a Marxist state, following Angola's long struggle to end colonial domination. This recognition of sovereignty, however, was accompanied by uncertainty about the MPLA-PT regime itself, shifting from a concern in the 1970s that spreading Soviet influence would destabilize African regimes across the continent to a fear in the 1980s that the MPLA-PT might be incapable of governing in the face of strong UNITA resistance. The large Cuban military presence came to symbolize both Angola's political autonomy from the West and the MPLA-PT's reliance on a Soviet client state to remain in power. By 1988 the party's role in the struggle against South Africa had become its best guarantee of broad support across sub-Saharan Africa.

Pretoria's goals in Angola were to eliminate SWAPO and ANC bases from Angolan territory, weaken MPLA-PT support for Pretoria's foes through a combination of direct assault and aid to UNITA, and reinforce regional dependence on South Africa's own extensive transportation system by closing down the Benguela Railway. At the same time, however, South Africa's right-wing extremists relied on Marxist rhetoric from Angola and Mozambique as evidence of the predicted communist onslaught against Pretoria. The political ties of Angola and Mozambique to the Soviet Union also bolstered South Africa's determination to strengthen its security apparatus at home and provided a rationale for continued occupation of Namibia. Knowing this important prop for Pretoria's regional policies would diminish with the Cuban withdrawal from Angola, South Africa actually prolonged Angola's dependence on Soviet and Cuban military might by derailing negotiations for Namibian independence.

In 1984 South Africa and Angola agreed to end support for each other's rebels and work toward regional peace. This agreement, the Lusaka Accord, was not implemented, however, as Pretoria continued incursions into Angola, partly in response to new arrivals of Cuban forces.

Angola - Regional Accord

On December 22, 1988, after eight years of negotiations, Angola, Cuba, and South Africa concluded a regional accord that provided for the removal of Cuban troops from Angola. In a series of talks mediated by the United States, the three parties agreed to link Namibian independence from South African rule to a staged withdrawal of Cuban troops from Angola. Both processes were to begin in 1989. Cuban troops were to move north of the fifteenth parallel, away from the Namibian border, by August 1, 1989. All Cuban troops were to be withdrawn from Angolan territory by July 1, 1991.

The December 1988 regional accords did not attempt to resolve the ongoing conflict between Angolan forces and UNITA. Rather, it addressed the 1978 UN Security Council Resolution 435, which called for South African withdrawal and free elections in Namibia and prohibited further South African incursions into Angola. The United States promised continued support for UNITA until a negotiated truce and power-sharing arrangement were accomplished.

The December 1988 regional accords created a joint commission of representatives from Angola, Cuba, South Africa, the United States, and the Soviet Union to resolve conflicts that threatened to disrupt its implementation. However, immediate responsibility for the accord lay primarily with the UN, which still required an enabling resolution by the Security Council, a funding resolution by the General Assembly, and a concrete logistical plan for member states to establish and maintain a Namibian peacekeeping force as part of the UN Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG) called for by Resolution 435.

Angola's participation in the regional accords was pragmatic. The accords promised overall gains, but not without costs. They entailed the eventual loss of Cuban military support for the MPLAPT but countered this with the possible benefits of improved relations with South Africa--primarily an end to South Africansupported insurgency. The accords also suggested possible benefits from improved regional trade, membership in the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, and loans for development purposes. President dos Santos intended to reduce Angola's share of the cost of the Cuban presence, to reduce social tensions in areas where Cuban military units were stationed, and to weaken UNITA's argument that the MPLA-PT had allowed an occupation force to install itself in Angola. The MPLA-PT also hoped to gain a friendly SWAPO government in neighboring Namibia and an end to sanctuary for UNITA forces in Namibian territory. (This goal was complicated by the fact that Ovambo populations in southern Angola and Namibia provided the core of SWAPO, and, at the same time, many Ovambo people supported UNITA.)

As the first Cuban troops planned to withdraw from Angola, most parties to the accords still feared that it might fail. Angolan leaders worried that the UNITA insurgency would intensify in the face of the Cuban withdrawal; that UNITA leaders might find new sources of external assistance, possibly channeled through Zaire; and that South African incursions into Angola might recur on the grounds that ANC or SWAPO bases remained active in southern Angola. South African negotiators expressed the fear that the Cuban troop withdrawal, which could not be accurately verified, might not be complete; that Cuban troops might move into Zambia or other neighboring states, only to return to Angola in response to UNITA activity; or that SWAPO activity in Namibia might prompt new South African assaults on Namibian and Angolan territory. SWAPO negotiators, in turn, feared that South Africa or some of Namibia's 70,000 whites might block the elections guaranteed by UN Resolution 435, possibly bringing South African forces back into Namibia and scuttling the entire accords. These and other apprehensions were evident in late 1988, but substantial hope remained that all regional leaders supported the peace process and would work toward its implementation.

Angola - Relations with Other African States

Angola was wary of attempts at African solidarity during its first years of independence, an attitude that gave way to a more activist role in southern Africa during the 1980s. President Neto rejected an offer of an OAU peacekeeping force in 1975, suspecting that OAU leaders would urge a negotiated settlement with UNITA. Neto also declined other efforts to find African solutions to Angola's instability and reduce the Soviet and Cuban role in the region. A decade later, Angola had become a leader among front-line states (the others were Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe) seeking Western pressure to end regional destablization by Pretoria. Luanda also coordinated efforts by the Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC) to reduce the front-line states' economic dependence on South Africa.

Angola's relations were generally good with other African states that accepted its Marxist policies and strained with states that harbored or supported rebel forces opposed to the MPLA-PT. The most consistent rhetorical support for the MPLA-PT came from other former Portuguese states in Africa (Cape Verde, São Tomé and Príncipe, Guinea-Bissau, and Mozambique).

Nigeria, which led the OAU in recognizing the MPLA-PT regime in 1975, went on to seek a leadership role in the campaign against South Africa's domination of the region, but Nigeria never forged very close ties with Angola. Nigeria's own economic difficulties of the 1970s and 1980s, its close relations with the West, and other cultural and political differences prevented Luanda and Lagos from forming a strong alliance.

Zaire's relations with Angola were unstable during the 1970s and 1980s. Zairian regular army units supported the FNLA in the years before and just after Angolan independence, and Angola harbored anti-Zairian rebels, who twice invaded Zaire's Shaba Province (formerly Katanga Province). But Zaire's President Mobutu Sese Seko and President Neto reached a rapprochement before Neto's death in 1979, and Zaire curtailed direct opposition to the MPLAPT . Nonetheless, throughout most of the 1980s UNITA operated freely across Zaire's southwestern border, and Western support for UNITA was channeled through Zaire. Complicating relations between these two nations were the numerous ethnic groups whose homelands had been divided by the boundary between Zaire and Angola a century earlier. The Bakongo, Lunda, Chokwe, and many smaller groups maintained long-standing cultural, economic, and religious ties with relatives in neighboring states. These ties often extended to support for antigovernment rebels.

Zambia, which had officially ousted UNITA bands from its western region in 1976, voiced strong support for the MPLA-PT at the same time that it turned a blind eye to financial and logistical support for UNITA by Zambian citizens. Without official approval, but also without interference, UNITA forces continued to train in Zambia's western region. Lusaka's ambivalence toward Angola during the 1980s took into account the possibility of an eventual UNITA role in the government in Luanda. Both Zambia and Zaire had an interest in seeing an end to Angola's civil war because the flow of refugees from Angola had reached several hundred thousand by the mid-1980s. Peace would also enable Zambia and Zaire to upgrade the Benguela Railway as an alternative to South African transport systems.

Elsewhere in the region, relations with Angola varied. Strained relations arose at times with Congo, where both FNLA and Cabindan rebels had close cultural ties and some semi-official encouragement. Senegal, Togo, Malawi, and Somalia were among the relatively conservative African states that provided material support to UNITA during the 1980s. Throughout most of the decade, UNITA also received financial assistance from several North African states, including Morocco, Tunisia, and Egypt, and these governments (along with Kuwait and Saudi Arabia) pressured their African trading partners and client states to limit their support of the MPLA-PT.

Angola - Communist Nations

The Soviet Union supported the MPLA-PT as a liberation movement before independence and formalized its relationship with the MPLAPT government through the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation and a series of military agreements beginning in 1975. Once it became clear that the MPLA-PT could, with Cuban support, remain in power, the Soviet Union provided economic and technical assistance and granted Angola most-favored-nation status.

The support of the Soviet Union and its allies included diplomatic representations at the UN and in other international forums, military hardware and advisers, and more direct military support in the face of South African incursions into Angola. Civilian technical assistance extended to hydroelectric projects, bridge building and road building, agriculture, fisheries, public health, and a variety of educational projects. Technical assistance was often channeled through joint projects with a third country-- for example, the Capanda hydroelectric project entailed cooperation between the Soviet Union and Brazil.

Soviet-Angolan relations were strained at times during the 1980s, however, in part because Angola sought to upgrade diplomatic ties with the United States. Soviet leadership factions were divided over their nation's future role in Africa, and some Soviet negotiators objected to dos Santos's concessions to the United States on the issue of "linkage." The region's intractable political problems, and the cost of maintaining Cuban troop support and equipping the MPLA-PT, weakened the Soviet commitment to the building of a Marxist-Leninist state in Angola.

Angolan leaders, in turn, complained about Soviet neglect--low levels of assistance, poor-quality personnel and matériel, and inadequate responses to complaints. Angola shared the cost of the Cuban military presence and sought to reduce these expenses, in part because many Angolan citizens felt the immediate drain on economic resources and rising tensions in areas occupied by Cuban troops. Moreover, dos Santos complained that the Soviet Union dealt with Angola opportunistically--purchasing Angolan coffee at low prices and reexporting it at a substantial profit, overfishing in Angolan waters, and driving up local food prices.

For the first decade after independence, trade with communist states was not significant, but in the late 1980s dos Santos sought expanded economic ties with the Soviet Union, China, and Czechoslovakia and other nations of Eastern Europe as the MPLA-PT attempted to diversify its economic relations and reduce its dependence on the West. In October 1986, Angola signed a cooperative agreement with the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon or CMEA), a consortium dedicated to economic cooperation among the Soviet Union and its allies.

As part of the Comecon agreement, Soviet support for Angolan educational and training programs was increased. In 1987 approximately 1,800 Angolan students attended institutions of higher education in the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union also provided about 100 lecturers to Agostinho Neto University in Luanda, and a variety of Soviet-sponsored training programs operated in Angola, most with Cuban instructors. Approximately 4,000 Angolans studied at the international school on Cuba's renowned Isle of Youth. More Angolan students were scheduled to attend the Union of Young Communists' School in Havana in 1989. Czechoslovakia granted scholarships to forty-four Angolan students in 1987, and during that year Czechoslovakia and the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) also provided training for about 150 Angolan industrial workers.

Cuba's presence in Angola was more complex than it appeared to outsiders who viewed the Soviet Union's Third World clients as little more than surrogates for their powerful patron. The initiative in placing Cuban troops in Angola in the mid-1970s was taken by President Fidel Castro as part of his avowed mission of "Cuban internationalism." Facing widespread unemployment at home, young Cuban men were urged to serve in the military overseas as their patriotic duty, and veterans enjoyed great prestige on their return. Castro also raised the possibility of a Cuban resettlement scheme in southern Angola, and several hundred Cubans received Angolan citizenship during the 1980s. Cuban immigration increased sharply in 1988. In addition to military support, Cuba provided Angola with several thousand teachers, physicians, and civilian laborers for construction, agriculture, and industry. Angolan dependence on Cuban medical personnel was so complete that during the 1980s Spanish became known as the language of medicine.

China's relations with Angola were complicated by Beijing's opposition to both Soviet and United States policies toward Africa. China supported the FNLA and UNITA after the MPLA seized power in Angola, and China provided military support to Zaire when Zairian troops clashed with Angolan forces along their common border in the late 1970s. China nonetheless took the initiative in improving relations with the MPLA-PT during the 1980s. The two states established diplomatic ties in 1983.

Angola - United States and Western Europe

Angola's relations with the United States were ambivalent. The United States aided the FNLA and UNITA before independence. During most of 1976, the United States blocked Angola's admission to the UN, and in late 1988 the two nations still lacked diplomatic ties. United States representatives pressured Luanda to reduce its military reliance on Cuba and the Soviet Union, made necessary in part by United States and South African opposition to the MPLA-PT and support for UNITA. In 1988 Angola's government news agency quoted Minister of Foreign Relations Afonso Van Dúnem (nom de guerre Mbinda) as saying the United States had a "Cuban psychosis" that prevented it from engaging in talks about Namibia and Angola. Nevertheless, after the December 1988 regional accords to end the Cuban military presence in Angola, United States officials offered to normalize relations with Angola on the condition that an internal settlement of the civil war with UNITA be reached.

Political and diplomatic differences between the United States and Angola were generally mitigated by close economic ties. American oil companies operating in Cabinda provided a substantial portion of Angola's export earnings and foreign exchange, and this relationship continued despite political pressures on these companies to reduce their holdings in Cabinda in the mid-1980s. The divergence of private economic interests from United States diplomatic policy was complicated by differences of opinion among American policymakers. By means of the Clark Amendment, from 1975 to 1985 the United States Congress prohibited aid to UNITA and slowed covert attempts to circumvent this legislation. After the repeal of the Clark Amendment in 1985, however, trade between Angola and the United States continued to increase, and Cuban and Angolan troops attempted to prevent sabotage against United States interests by UNITA and South African commandos.

Western Europe, like the United States, feared the implications of a strong Soviet client state in southern Africa, but in general European relations with the MPLA-PT were based on economic interests rather than ideology. France and Portugal maintained good relations with the MPLA-PT at the same time that they provided financial assistance for UNITA and allowed UNITA representatives to operate freely in their capitals. Portugal was Angola's leading trading partner throughout most of the 1980s, and Brazil, another Lusophone state, strengthened economic ties with Angola during this period.


                      *          *        *

John A. Marcum's two-volume series, The Angolan Revolution, analyzes historical trends in Angolan politics and society from the early colonial struggle through the early years of independence. Marcum also views the postwar environment and its political implications in "Angola: Twenty-five Years of War," and he analyzes obstacles to the socialist transformation in "The People's Republic of Angola." Keith Somerville's Angola: Politics, Economics, and Society provides an extensive discussion of Angola's variant of Marxism-Leninism and raises the question of its implications for the rural majority of Angolan people. Kenneth W. Grundy's "The Angolan Puzzle" assesses Angolan prospects for peace in 1987 in the context of the regional struggle.

Gerald J. Bender analyzes Angola's contemporary predicament from a historical perspective in "American Policy Toward Angola" and "The Continuing Crisis in Angola." Catherine V. Scott, in "Socialism and the `Soft State' in Africa," compares 1980s political developments in these two Marxist states in southern Africa. Tony Hodges's Angola to the 1990s, essentially an economic analysis, also contains insight into political trends. Fred Bridgland's "The Future of Angola" and Jonas Savimbi provide critical views of MPLA-PT rule, while Fola Soremekun's chapter on Angola in The Political Economy of African Foreign Policy, edited by Timothy M. Shaw and Olajide Aluko, and Angola's Political Economy by M.R. Bhagavan view Angola's 1980s leadership from a more favorable perspective.

Angola - Bibliography

Chapter 1

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Chapter 2

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Joint Publications Research Service--JPRS (Washington). The
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Translations on sub-Saharan Africa.

"The Bishops and the Conspiracy," Jornal de Angola
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     24, 1978).

"BPV Activities Praised by National Secretary," Jornal de
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     21, 1987, 7-9).

"Conditions in Jamba Described," Tempo [Lisbon], November
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"Doctor Shortages," African Confidencial [Lisbon], April
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"Essential Objectives, Tasks of Angolan Reconstruction," (document
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"Government Seeks to Control Religious Sect; Many Killed,"
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     SSA-87-065, July 17, 1987, 14-15).

"Health College Creation Announced," Jornal de Angola
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"Huambo's Orthopedic Center Featured," Jornal de Angola
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"Information on Rectification Movement," Jornal de Angola
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     1978; and February 2, 1978. (JPRS 70711, No. 1887, March 1,

"Journalist Describes Sojourn with Unita," Expresso
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     1987, 7-8).

"Journalist Describes UNITA School System," Tempo
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"Journalist Describes Visit to UNITA, Interview of Savimbi,"
     Figaro [Paris], January 22, 1987. (JPRS SSA-87-037,
     April 21, 1987, 13-18).

"Lara Discusses MPLA Congress, Scores Petty Bourgeois," Jornal
     de Angola [Luanda], November 17, 1977. (JPRS 70357, No.
     1853, December 20, 1977).

"Life of Angolan Students in Cuba Described," Jornal de
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     1, 1987, 6-13).

"Nascimento Criticizes Bishops at Provincial Commissioners
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"Racism, Tribalism Detrimental to Unity," Jornal de Angola
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"Students' Summer Labor, Literacy Programs Reviewed," Jornal de
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     January 21, 1988, 17-18).

"Thousands Swell BPV Ranks in Namibe," Jornal de Angola
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"`Tocoist' Sect Criticized," Jornal de Angola [Luanda],
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"UNITA: The Banned Angola," Expresso [Lisbon], September
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"UNITA Has More Students in Lisbon Than MPLA," O Diário
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Chapter 3

Bender, Gerald J. Angola under the Portuguese: The Myth and the
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   (Various issues of the following publications were also used in
the preparation of this chapter: Africa Economic Digest
[London]; Africa Hoje [Lisbon]; Africa Jornal
[Lisbon]; Africa Research Bulletin (Economic Series)
[Oxford]; AfricAsia [Paris]; Afrique-Asie
[Paris]; Economist Intelligence Unit, Country Report: Angola,
São Tomé and Príncipe [London]; Foreign Broadcast Information
Service, Daily Report: Middle East and Africa (until April
1987) and Daily Report: Africa sub-Saharan) (since April
1987); Jeune Afrique [Paris]; Marchés tropicaux et
méditerranéens [Paris]; and West Africa [London].)

Chapter 4

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Somerville, Keith. Angola: Politics, Economics, and
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------. "Angola: Soviet Client State or State of Socialist
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     World Press Review, 35, No. 12, December 1988, 30-32.

U.S. Committee for Refugees. Uprooted Angolans: From Crisis to
     Catastrophe. Washington: American Council for
     Nationalities Service, August 1987.

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   (Various issues of the following publications were also used in
the preparation of this chapter: Africa Confidential
[London]; Africa Contemporary Record; Africa
Report; Africa Research Bulletin (Political Series)
[Oxford]; Angop News Bulletin [London], 1987-88;
Boston Globe, 1987-88; Financial Mail
[Johannesburg], 1988; Foreign Broadcast Information Service,
Daily Report; Guardian [London]; Jeune
Afrique [Paris], 1988; Joint Publications Research Service,
Report on sub-Saharan Africa; Marchés tropicaux et
méditerranéens [Paris], 1988; New York Times, 1988;
and Wall Street Journal, 1988).

   (Various issues of the following publications were also
used in the preparation of this chapter: Africa
Confidential [London]; Africa Contemporary Record;
Africa Diary [New Delhi]; Africa Economic Digest
[London]; African Defence Journal [Paris], Africa
Now [London]; Africa
Report; Africa Research Bulletin (Political Series)
[Oxford]; AfricAsia [Paris]; Afrique Défense
[Paris]; Air International [London]; Atlanta
Constitution; British Broadcasting Corporation, Summary of
World Broadcasts [London]; Christian Science Monitor;
Defense and Foreign Affairs Handbook; Defense and
Foreign Affairs Weekly; Facts and Reports
[Amsterdam]; Foreign Broadcast Information Service, Daily
Report: Africa; Flight International [London];
International Defense Review [Geneva]; Jane's All the
World's Aircraft [London]; Jane's Armour and
Artillery [London]; Jane's Defence Weekly [London];
Jane's Fighting Ships [London]; Jane's Weapons
Systems [London]; Jeune Afrique [Paris], Joint
Publications Research Service, Report on sub-Saharan
Africa; Marchés tropicaux et méditerranéens [Paris];
Soldier of Fortune; Washington Post;
Washington Times; and West Africa [London].)

CITATION: Federal Research Division of the
Library of Congress. The Country Studies Series. Published 1988-1999.

Please note: This text comes from the Country Studies Program, formerly the Army Area Handbook Program. The Country Studies Series presents a description and analysis of the historical setting and the social, economic, political, and national security systems and institutions of countries throughout the world.

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