Angola becomes independent of Portuguese colonial rule

Angolan Flag.

Tuesday, 11 November 1975

Angola becomes independent after 14 years of armed resistance to Portuguese colonial rule. The three major movements fighting the war, the Movimiento Popular de Liberación de Angola, (MPLA), the Front for the National Liberation of Angola (FLNA) and National Union for Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) signed the Alvor agreement in January 1975. Due to political differences amongst the parties that signed the agreement civil war broke out. The MPLA which seized power was supported by Cuba and the Soviet Union and UNITA which went to war was supported by South Africa and the USA.

The independence of Angola paved way for other liberation movements in Southern Africa to establish bases for military training. For instance, the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU) and the South West African People's Organization (SWAPO) established bases in Angola. In 1976 the African National Congress (ANC) set up the Central Operations Headquarters of uMkonto weSizwe (MK) and began a process of establishing military training camps in Angola. That same year the ANC began negotiations with Angola to establish military bases, and by the end of 1976 the ANC had established its first military base in Angola. The first group of MK soldiers was sent to a camp south of Luanda in Gabela. By late October and early November 1976 other MK were brought from Tanzania and sent to a transit camp called Engineering. Camps Gabela and Engineering were closed in 1977 and people were moved to Nova Katengue in the south. After Zimbabwean independence in 1980, ZAPU left Angola for Zimbabwe and gave two of their camps Caculama and Camalundi to the ANC. Another camp Quatro was demolished in 1988.

References:
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  1. Gregory Houston & Bernard Magubane (2006), The ANC's Armed Struggle in the 1970s, in The Road to Democracy in South Africa: Volume 2, 1970-1980, UNISA Press p.468-469.
  2. Dieter Nohlen, Michael Krennerich, Bernhard Thibaut (1999), Elections in Africa: A data handbook, Oxford University Press p.65.
  3. Tor Sellström, (2002), Sweden and National Liberation in Southern Africa: Solidarity and Assistance, Volume II, 1970-1994, Stockholm p. 707
  4. SAPA (1996), Mk Commander Alleges Sexual Abuse in Anc Exile Camps from the South African Press Association (SAPA) [online], Available at www.justice.gov.za  [Accessed 28 October 2010]
  5. Cleveland, Todd (2005), "We Still Want the Truth": The ANC's Angolan Detention Camps and Post-Apartheid Memory inComparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East - Volume 25, Number 1, pp. 63-78

Last updated : 08-Nov-2017

This article was produced for South African History Online on 16-Mar-2011