History of Angola

Angola is an African country “located on the southwestern coast of Africa” (Stead, Rorison, and Scafidi 3). These days, Angola is an independent state. However, it received its independence not long ago. November 11, 1975 is a memorable date in the history of the Angolan people. On this day, a colony of Portugal ceased to exist. The whole world has learned about the birth of the People’s Republic of Angola, a new independent state. This event was preceded by a long and persistent fight of the Angolan people against Portuguese colonialism. This struggle resulted in the revolutionary war against invaders and pro-imperialist forces in the country. However, even after the state had become independent, it faced numerous internal problems. Angola managed to defend its independence, preserve territorial integrity, lay the foundations of a democratic constitutional state, and ensure the unification of the Angolan people fulfilling the task of creating a single nation-state, in spite of all acts of aggression and all attempts to destabilize the situation in the country.

The territory of the country has been inhabited since prehistoric times as evidenced by the findings in the areas of the Namib. The first people who settled the area were Bushmen, skilled hunters. At the beginning of the sixth century BC, more developed nations of the black race undertook the largest migration. They were Bantu tribes, which came from the north. After coming to Angola, they encountered the Bushmen tribes who passed them their skills in the field of metal processing, production of ceramics, and agriculture.

The first major political unification in this area entered the history as the Kingdom of Congo. It emerged in the thirteenth century. Agriculture was the basis of its economy. The power in the country was under the rule of the Mani. They were aristocrats that occupied the key positions and obeyed the King of Congo only. The Kingdom was divided into territorial units, each of which was under control of one representative of Mani. The capital was a settlement of Mbanza Congo with the population of more than fifty thousand people.

In the sixteenth century, the Kingdom of Congo consisted of six provinces. It included several kingdoms formed on a tribal basis such as the Kingdom of Ndongo in the south. The main occupation was trade based on highly developed agriculture and intensive extraction of mineral resources. In 1482, the Portuguese arrived at the mouth of the Congo River. They acquainted the local people with a new religion and firearms. In turn, the Kingdom of Congo provided mineral resources, ivory, and slaves. Thus, in 1482, Angola was colonized by Portugal. The territory of Angola was transformed by Portuguese colonizers in the country of slaves. Several million people were sent to sugar cane plantations in Brazil. The people of Angola offered stubborn resistance to Portuguese colonialists, which resulted in the fact that the conquest of Angola was completed only at the beginning of the twentieth century. Other colonial powers of Europe also advanced claims on the Kingdom of Congo. However, treaties with these countries recognized the rights of Portugal and defined the limits of its possessions in Angola. In the middle of the nineteenth century, the export of slaves from Angola stopped. At that time, the main export item became rubber. Nevertheless, still, the Angolan people were used as labor power. On the plantations of rubber, coffee, salt mines, and diamond deposits, forced labor was widely used. Heavy colonial oppression and political powerlessness caused numerous armed uprisings of the people of Angola directed against the power of colonialists. To suppress insurrections, Portuguese authorities were forced to send troops from the metropolis to Angola.

 

In 1912, there was the first political organization of the modern type in Angola, the English League, speaking against racial discrimination and for the introduction of democratic reforms. In 1922, the Angolan League was banned. However, the African National League continued its work. It was founded in 1929. The coup and the establishment of military dictatorship in Portugal had also a negative impact on the situation in Angola. Any anti-colonial speeches were brutally suppressed. Thousands of Angolans escaping from persecution fled to neighboring countries. The negative impact on the national liberation movement of the people of Angola rendered such objectively existing features of the Angolan society as inherent regional and ethnic fragmentation, isolation, and tribalism skillfully used by the colonial authorities. Despite the apparent hostility to the Portuguese, there were frequent cases when the latter and Angolan citizens united in families. A vivid example of such a union is my family. In 1952, my grandmother was born. She was a fruit of a union between a Portuguese man and an Angolan woman. Despite constant harassment by the authorities, the people of Angola were looking for solutions to protect themselves. In December 1956, through the merger of several illegal organizations, the Popular Movement of Liberation of Angola (MPLA) was established. In 1961, MPLA raised an armed insurrection against the government of Portuguese colonialists. Still, it was brutally suppressed. More than five thousand people were killed. This uprising marked the beginning of the national liberation war of the Angolan people, which had lasted until 1974. When the war began, my grandmother was nine years old. Thus, she understood all the events clearly. The main objective of Angolan patriots was the achievement of independence. According to my grandmother, the war against Portuguese troops had mainly a partisan character. The main areas of military operations were in the northwestern, eastern, and southeastern regions of the country. The overthrow of the fascist regime in Portugal caused the democratic government to come to power. In turn, it brought benefits to Angola. The new government recognized the right of peoples inhabiting the Portuguese colonies to self-determination. In August 1974, it signed the ceasefire agreement with the MPLA (Weigert 15). In 1975, the government signed a convention that provided Angola’s independence (Weigert 15). There was also a convention on the establishment of a transitional government in Angola from representatives of the MPLA, UNITA, and the FNLA. However, the UNITA and the FNLA that followed a separatist policy thwarted the creation of a transitional government, starting an armed struggle against the MPLA in the summer of 1975 (Weigert 15-16). In August 1975, the army of the Republic of South Africa invaded Angola (Weigert 16). The Soviet Union and Cuba actively contributed to the withdrawal of South African troops. In this challenging environment, the MPLA and its supporting forces proclaimed Angolan independence on November 11, 1975 (Weigert 17). This day has forever entered the history of Angola. It was also a year when my mother was born. My grandparents were extremely happy that their daughter was born in a free and independent country. Everyone believed that people could build a strong and prosperous state. Nevertheless, the formation of an independent state took place in extremely difficult conditions and a complex international situation. In ten years, my grandfather died in a car accident. At that time, my grandmother was pregnant with the fifth child. Thus, it was a very difficult time for my family. Because of the hard situation in the country, Angola could not provide full support to families with many children. Consequently, my grandmother had to work hard to feed and educate children. 

In September 1992, there were the first multiparty elections to the parliament in Angola since 1975 (Weigert 5). The MPLA gained decisive victory. However, the UNITA did not recognize these results, and in October 1992, armed conflicts began between the forces of Angola and UNITA troops (Weigert 5). It was the beginning of a long civil war, which lasted ten years. It was the year when I was born. Since the war ended only in ten years, I clearly remember all events of that time. It was extremely difficult for my family to live in a country under tension and war. The civil war and related destruction and human casualties had a very negative impact on the economy of Angola. My parents could not overcome all the difficulties and divorced when I was three. My mother raised me with the help of my grandmother and aunts. It was hard under conditions of the war. However, it came to an end after the death of the leader of the opposition. 

After the war, Angola managed to move to a new phase of the development of the country. All residents were on the verge of reforms and a bright future. It was a phase of the consolidation of democracy, peace, stabilization of the national economy, and the return of national dignity and hope. I vividly remember this period. Everyone wanted to change the country. 

Angola has a long history from the Kingdom of Congo to the civil war between the forces of Angola and UNITA troops. Until, the twentieth century, Angola was a Portuguese colony. Although people had always dreamt of becoming an independent state and getting rid of Portuguese oppression, my family appeared from the union of people from the two nations. Nowadays, Angola is an independent state. Although the country has many economic difficulties, the political situation is stable. To be free and live in a peaceful country is the most important thing for the people of Angola.

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May 14, 2019 in Socioligy
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