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History of Angola

From Academic Kids

The Portuguese established themselves on the west coast of Africa towards the close of the 15th century. The river Congo was discovered by Diogo Cam or Cao in 1482. He erected a stone pillar at the mouth of the river, which accordingly took the title of Rio de Padrao. He established friendly relations with the natives, who reported that the country was subject to a great monarch, Mwani Congo or lord of Congo, resident at Bonza Congo. The Portuguese did not take long in making themselves influential in the country. Gonšalo de Sousa was despatched on a formal embassy in 1490; and the first missionaries entered the country in his train. The king was soon afterwards baptized, and Christianity was nominally established as the national religion. In 1534, a cathedral was founded at Bonza Congo (renamed Sao Salvador), and in 1560 the Jesuits arrived with Paulo Diaz de Novaes.

Of the prosperity of the country, the Portuguese have left the most glowing and indeed incredible accounts. It was, however, about this time ravaged by cannibal invaders (Bangala) from the interior, and Portuguese influence gradually declined. The attention of the Portuguese was, moreover, now turned more particularly to the southern districts of Angola. In 1627, the bishop's seat was removed to Sao Paulo de Loanda, and Sao Salvador declined in importance.

In the 18th century, in spite of hindrances from Holland and France, steps were taken toward re-establishing Portuguese authority in the northern regions:

  • in 1758 a settlement was formed at Encoje;
  • from 1784 to 1789 the Portuguese carried on a war against the natives of Mussolo (the district immediately south of Ambriz);
  • in 1791, they built a fort at Quincollo on the Loje, and for a time they worked the mines of Bembe.

Until, however, the "scramble for Africa" began in 1884, the Portuguese possessed no fort or settlement on the coast to the north of Ambriz, which had been first occupied in 1855. At Sao Salvador, however, the Portuguese continued to exercise influence. The last of the native princes who had real authority was a potentate known as Dom Pedro V. He was placed on the throne in 1855 with the help of a Portuguese force, and reigned over thirty years. In 1888, a Portuguese resident was stationed at Salvador, and the kings of Congo became pensioners of the government.

Angola proper, and the whole coast-line of what now constitutes the province of that name, was explored by Diogo Cam during 1482 and the three following years. In 1482, when the Portuguese first landed in what is now northern Angola, they encountered the Kingdom of the Kongo, which stretched from modern Gabon in the north to the Kwanza River in the south. Mbanza Congo, the capital, had a population of 50,000 people. South of this were various important states, of which the Kingdom of Ndongo, ruled by the Ngola (King), was most significant. Modern Angola derives its name from the king of Ndongo.

The first governor sent to Angola was Paulo Diaz, a grandson of Bartholomew Diaz, who reduced to submission the region south of the Kwanza nearly as far as Benguella. The city of Loanda was founded in 1576, Benguella in 1617. The Portuguese soon established control over the port cities of Luanda and Benguela, and gradually took control of the coastal strip throughout the 16th century by a series of treaties and wars. The Dutch occupied Luanda, with the help of Ngola Nzinga, from 1641 - 1648, providing a boost for anti-Portuguese states. In 1648, Brazilian-based Portuguese forces re-took Luanda, and initiated a process of military conquest of the Congo and Ndongo states that ended with Portuguese victory in 1671. Ngola Nzinga continued to resist Portugal from the hills in Matamba until her death in 1683. Full Portuguese administrative control of the interior did not occur until the beginning of the 20th century.

In 1884, Great Britain, which up to that time had steadily refused to acknowledge that Portugal possessed territorial rights north of Ambriz, concluded a treaty recognizing Portuguese sovereignty over both banks of the lower Congo; but the treaty, meeting with opposition in England and Germany, was not ratified. Agreements concluded with the Congo Free State, Germany and France in 1885-1886 (modified in details by subsequent arrangements) fixed the limits of the province, except in the south-east, where the frontier between Barotseland (north-west Rhodesia) and Angola was determined by an Anglo-Portuguese agreement of 1891 and the arbitration award of the king of Italy in 1905 (see History of Africa).

Up to the end of the 19th century the hold of Portugal over the interior of the province was slight, though its influence extended to the Congo and Zambezi basins. The abolition of the external slave trade proved very injurious to the trade of the seaports. From 1860 onward, the agricultural resources of the country were developed with increasing energy, a work in which Brazilian merchants took the lead. After the definite partition of Africa among the European powers, Portugal applied herself with some seriousness to exploit Angola and her other African possessions. Nevertheless, in comparison with its natural wealth, the development of the country has been slow.

Slavery and the slave trade continued to flourish in the interior in the early years of the 20th century, despite the prohibitions of the Portuguese government. The extension of authority over the inland tribes proceeded very slowly and was not accomplished without occasional reverses. In September 1904, a Portuguese column lost over 300 men killed, including 114 Europeans, in an encounter with the Kunahamas on the Kunene, not far from the German frontier. The Kunahamas are a wild, raiding tribe and were probably largely influenced by the revolt of their southern neighbours, the Hereros, against the Germans. In 1905 and again in 1907, there was renewed fighting in the same region.

Portugal's primary interest in Angola was slavery. The slaving system began early in the 16th century with the purchase from African chiefs of people to work on sugar plantations in Sao Tome, Principe, and Brazil. Whilst the economic development of the country was not entirely neglected and many useful food products were introduced, the prosperity of the province was very largely dependent on the slave trade with Brazil, which was not legally abolished until 1830 and in fact continued for many years subsequently. Many scholars agree that by the 19th century, Angola was the largest source of slaves not only for Brazil, but for the Americas, including the United States. By the end of the 19th century, a massive forced labor system had replaced formal slavery and would continue until outlawed in 1961. Colonial Portuguese rule in the 20th century was characterized by rigid dictatorship and exploitation of African labor.

It was this forced labor that provided the basis for development of a plantation economy and, by the mid-20th century, a major mining sector. Forced labor combined with British financing to construct three railroads from the coast to the interior. The most important of these was the transcontinental Benguela railroad that linked the port of Lobito with the copper zones of the Belgian Congo and what is now Zambia.

Colonial economic development did not translate into social development for native Angolans. The Portuguese regime encouraged white immigration, especially after 1950, which intensified racial antagonisms -- many new Portuguese settlers arrived after World War II, making up 5% of the population by the early 1970s. As decolonization progressed elsewhere in Africa, Portugal, under the Salazar and Caetano dictatorships, rejected independence and treated its African colonies as overseas provinces. Consequently, three independence movements emerged:

The Frente para a LibertašŃo do Enclave de Cabinda (FLEC) began a campaign for the independence of the Cabinda enclave -- Angolan territory separated from the main part of the country by Za´re.

From the early 1960s, elements of these movements fought against the Portuguese. In their war for independence, which began in 1961, Angolans were divided. The tribal-based FNLA, the Maoist UNITA, and the Maoist and broadly-based MPLA were all strong groups fighting the Portuguese.

A 1974 coup d'Útat in Portugal established a military government that promptly ceased the war and agreed to hand over power to a coalition of the three movements. The coalition quickly broke down and turned into a civil war. The United States, Zaïre and South Africa intervened militarily in favor of the FNLA and UNITA. In response, Cuba, backed by the Soviet Union, intervened in favor of the MPLA. In November 1975, the MPLA had all but crushed UNITA, and the South African forces withdrew. The U.S. Congress barred further U.S. military involvement in Angola.

In control of Luanda and the coastal strip (and increasingly lucrative oil fields), the MPLA declared independence on November 11, 1975, the day the Portuguese abandoned the capital. Portugal recognized the declaration of independence. Agostinho Neto became the first president, followed by JosÚ Eduardo dos Santos in 1979. The opposition movements, FNLA and UNITA, created a joint government in the zones they controlled. The "Democratic Republic of Angola" was founded on November 24, 1975, with Holden Roberto and Jonas Savimbi as co-presidents and Jose Ndele and Johny E. Pinnock as co-prime ministers. This government was dissolved after January 30, 1976.

Civil war between UNITA and the MPLA continued until January 10, 1989 when Cuba withdrew its forces. For much of this time, UNITA controlled vast swaths of the interior and was backed by U.S. resources and South African troops. Similarly, tens of thousands of Cuban troops remained in support of the MPLA, often fighting South Africans on the front lines. A U.S.-brokered agreement resulted in withdrawal of foreign troops in 1989, and led to the Bicesse Accord in 1991, which spelled out an electoral process for a democratic Angola under the supervision of the United Nations. UNITA's Jonas Savimbi failed to win the first round of the presidential election in 1992 -- he won 40% to Dos Santos's 49%, which meant a runoff. Savimbi called the election fraudulent and returned to war. Another peace accord, the Lusaka Protocol, was brokered in Lusaka, Zambia and signed on November 20, 1994.

The peace accord between the government and UNITA provided for the integration of former UNITA insurgents into the government and armed forces. However, in 1995, localized fighting resumed. A national unity government was installed in April of 1997, but serious fighting resumed in late 1998 when Savimbi renewed the war for a second time, claiming that the MPLA was not fulfilling its obligations. The UN Security Council voted on August 28, 1997, to impose sanctions on UNITA. The Angolan military launched a massive offensive in 1999 that destroyed UNITA's conventional capacity and recaptured all major cities previously held by Savimbi's forces. Savimbi then declared that UNITA would return to guerrilla tactics, and much of the country remained in turmoil.

The extended civil wars rendered hundreds of thousands of people homeless. Up to 1.5 million lives may have been lost in fighting over the past quarter century.

In 2002, Savimbi was killed in a military operation, and UNITA and the MPLA agreed to sign a cease-fire six weeks later, on April 4. In August 2002, UNITA declared itself a political party and officially demobilized its armed force, ending the civil war. Angola is currently at peace under the leadership of the MPLA and dos Santos. It faces huge social and economic problems as a result of decades of Portuguese colonialism and almost continual war since 1975.

Reference

Much of the material in this article comes from the CIA World Factbook 2000 and the 2003 U.S. Department of State website.de:Geschichte Angolas nl:Geschiedenis van Angola pt:Histˇria de Angola

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