Angola History

By | November 14, 2021

The current territory of Angola has been inhabited since the Lower Palaeolithic, it has seen throughout its history a large number of population movements, with successive waves of Bantu peoples pushing south the primitive indigenous people of non-Bantu origin, the Khoi. -san, today reduced to a population of less than ten thousand people. These migrations occurred more or less regularly until at least the end of the 19th century.

Portuguese colonialism

The arrival of the first Europeans dates from the end of the 15th century, in 1482, when the Portuguese navigator Diogo Cão entered the gorge of the Congo River, or Zaire, raising the current with three caravels to the rapids of Ielalas. The monument erected on one of the river banks in the name of King John II thus represents the first external recognition of the Kingdom of the Congo. In his capital, the still existing Mbanza Congo, in northern Angola, the king welcomed foreigners as friends and allowed himself to be converted to Christianity., taking the name of Alfonso I. This first contact was made between sovereigns equal in rights, showing the Congolese society open to coexistence with newcomers and the operation of a true alliance between organized states.

Only during the sixteenth century, and after continuous and complicated games of seduction, intrigue and betrayal, would the ties of dependence of the Congolese kingdom in relation to the Portuguese Crown begin to be accentuated. After the death of Juan II (1495) commercial concerns and the will to dominate began to acquire more importance.

Other minor kingdoms located further south depended on the kingdom of the Congo, such as the Kingdom of Matamba and the Ndongo, from whose sovereigns, the Ngola, the name Angola would later come. The resistance of these three kingdoms to colonial penetration would be practically crushed in the second half of the seventeenth century, in the short space of twenty years: Congo (1665), Ndongo (1671) and Matamba (1681).

In 1700, the Portuguese dominated an area of 65,000 square kilometers in Angola, from the coast of Luanda and Benguela to a distance of 200 kilometers inland, practically with the sole objective of keeping the slave routes open from the plateau.. At that time, in fact, black slaves were already the most important commodity in all trade, being exported to Portugal, Brazil, the Antilles and Central America.

During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the situation continued to be essentially the same, except for the increase in the area of capture of slaves, which extended to the central plateau, and the increase in the number of shipments.

At the end of the 18th century, under the impulse of the Marquis de Pombal, the powerful minister of the King of Portugal, a timid attempt was made to exploit some of the country’s wealth. This attempt failed for lack of local support and from the metropolis itself, more interested in the development of Brazil, based on the labor of Angolan slaves. Angola had thus to continue to maintain its title of mine of slavery and her role as a supplier of slaves for Brazilian plantations. Contradictorily, at the same time that the revolts against the slave trade multiply by some independent chiefs and the African states of the plateau (which will only be relatively pacified more than a century later), an economic elite of African origin is asserting itself based on that same trade.

The nineteenth century was that of the great expeditions on the African continent and that of the colonial division. The expeditions of Serpa Pinto, Capelo and Ivens made it possible to specify the cartography of Angola. The Berlin Conference, in 1885, established colonial public law and treaties between Portugal, France, the Congo Free State (Belgian), Great Britain and Germany defined the current borders of Angola, a country located in Africa according to ETHNICITYOLOGY.

For the Angolan population, the official abolition of the slave trade in 1836 and the official end of the status of slave in 1878 did not alter the substance of the issue, as the exploitation of large masses of Angolan women workers by the colonial power continued. it was done in the form of the so-called contract. This situation will be aggravated by the colonial policy of the Salazar regime, starting in the 1930s of the 20th century.

It will not be until 1961 that Angolans will begin to organize politically, through the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA) and the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), and attempt to rebel militarily against the colonial power, failing in that date his first attempts that would be followed by a severe repression on the part of the colonial administration.

In 1964 dissident members of the FNLA formed the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). These independence movements, through a guerrilla war, continued their confrontation against the Portuguese army, until in 1974, after the overthrow of the dictator Marcelo Caetano in Portugal, the new government began a rapid process of decolonization that culminated with the independence of Angola. in November of 1975.


The weak tripartite agreement that exists between the independence movements is broken when the MPLA takes over the government of the country, which was the most organized and the one that had control of the country’s capital at the time of the termination of Portuguese sovereignty., starting the confrontation between them. This confrontation led to a civil war that lasted for more than 25 years. During these years, Angola became one of the scenarios of the Cold War where, on the one hand, the MPLA (supported by the USSR and Cuba) clashed and on the other the FNLA and UNITA (backed by South Africa, the United States, Great Britain, and Zaire).

The MPLA, which had achieved formal victory in February 1976 after the destruction of the main units of its enemies, never came to control the entire country, and the UNITA, although defeated in its aspiration to seize power, retained part of the south and center of Angolan territory, supported by South Africa.

At the end of May 1991, after tortuous negotiations, a political agreement was reached that led to the cessation of hostilities and the holding of elections in the Autumn of 1992. Although 18 political parties participated, the contest centered between the MPLA and UNITA. The MPLA won the parliamentary majority as well as the presidential majority.However, despite the overwhelming opinion of international observers that the elections had been free and fair, Jonas Savimbi, President of UNITA and aspiring to the presidency of the country refused to accept the result and, citing negligence and widespread fraud, resumed the war.

In November 1994, with the mediation of the South African President, Nelson Mandela, the Lusaka Accords were reached , which did not really begin to be implemented until mid- 2002, after the death in combat with the army of the president of UNITA, Jonas. Savimbi, on February 22, 2002. These agreements, which ended the war, ended in the holding of new elections in September 2008, where Eduardo Dos Santos was reelected as president of Angola.

Cuban contribution to the independence of Angola

Between 1975 and 1991, more than 400,000 Cubans, among combatants and civilian collaborators, provided internationalist aid to the Angolan people. The Cuban Military Mission was established in August 1975, after the MPLA gained control of the capital and requested Cuba’s help. The first Cuban instructors arrived in the three months afterwards to Luanda and Cabinda. While the Cuban instructors arrived, two armored columns advanced on the capital from the north and the south simultaneously, with the aim of occupying it before November 11, when Portugal he would hand over the government to the political movement that controlled Luanda.

The Cubans and the FAPLA stopped the FNLA’s advance through the north at the Battle of Quifangondo, very close to Luanda, on November 10, 1975. The FNLA armored column had the support of mercenaries, the Zairean army and South African artillery. Two days later, the mercenaries, the Zairean army and members of the Cabinda Enclave Liberation Front (FLEC), who had invaded the Cabinda oil zone on 8 November, were defeated and fled in disarray across the Zaire border. persecuted by the FAPLA and the Cubans.

South Africans advancing through the south were stopped by a Cuban special destination company, supported by reactive artillery in the bloody Battle of Ebo on November 23. After the offensive stopped, the South Africans were subjected to great international pressure and ended up withdrawing to the Namibian border.

The strong offensive by FAPLA and Cubans to the north reached the Zairean border in March 1976 and destroyed the military capacity of the FNLA. After March 1976, the MPLA consolidated its control over most of Angola’s territory and reduced the strength of its opponents to irregular warfare.

At the end of 1987, South African troops supported by UNITA advanced deep into Angolan territory with the aim of taking control of the strategic town of Cuito Cuanavale, 1,189 km southwest of Luanda (the country’s capital). Cuban troops and FAPLA delivered a resounding defeat to the South Africans that forced them to initiate peace talks, evacuate Namibia and end the apartheid regime in their own country.

Angola History