Angola: MPLA, FNLA, UNITA, and the War of Liberation, 1961-1974

by Mitch on August 30, 2012 0 Comments

Portuguese troops on patrol in Angola

In many respects, Angolan history forms part of the history of southern Africa. While most states in the rest of Africa became independent, in many southern African countries a reverse trend was visible: white rule became more entrenched. South Africa’s apartheid system, Rhodesia’s settler government, and Portuguese investments to expand their administrative and military system in the colonies were all aimed to prevent African independence. To interpret Angola’s past in a southern African context, however, runs the risk of promoting reasoning from within a colonial framework. For the Angolan nationalist parties involved, relations within the central African context may have been just as important. Apart from contact with leaders from nations such as Tanzania, North African states, and other Portuguese-speaking colonies, the ties with independent Congo, Zaïre, and Zambia were crucial for the Angolan nationalist movements. These regional aspects can hardly ...

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by Mitch on January 5, 2012 0 Comments

Angola, named after the ancient Mbundu state of Ngola, is the seventh largest country in Africa, with a total area of 1,246,700 square kilometers. It is bordered by Namibia, Zambia, Congo, and Democratic Republic of Congo. By 2000 it had an estimated population of 13.1 million, divided into several ethnic groups, the most populous being the Ovimbundu (37 percent), Kimbundu (25 percent), and Bakongo (13 percent). Afro-Portuguese and Europeans respectively constituted roughly 2 and 1 percent of the population. The main livelihood for 85 percent of the population was still agriculture, which accounted for only 12 percent of the gross domestic product. The principal exports were petroleum and diamonds, while other exports included fish, timber, sugarcane, coffee, cotton, and sisal. Although rich in natural resources, Angola’s economy was in disarray due the continuous warfare that has plagued the country from 1961.


Angola’s history in the ...

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by Mitch on January 5, 2012 0 Comments

By the late eighteenth century, the Portuguese had managed to retain in Africa only the small colonies of Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, and São Tomé and Princípe in West Africa and the much more extensive but largely undeveloped colonies of Angola and Mozambique in southern Africa. During the Napoleonic era, the governance of Portugal again became very unsettled, and from 1808 to 1821 the royal family even transferred its seat of power to Brazil, Portugal’s largest overseas colony. Then, after Brazil achieved independence in 1822, the Portuguese began to concentrate on developing their colonies in southern Africa, in large part to protect their claims in the face of the escalating competition to carve up the African interior into European colonies. In fact, at the Berlin Conference (1884–1885), the major European colonial powers insisted that Portugal demonstrate that it actually controlled the interiors of Angola and Mozambique.


For the next ...

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by Mitch on June 9, 2011 0 Comments

In 1519 Hernan Cortes conquered Mexico which was ruled by the Aztecs and at that time had at least a million subjects, but Cortes had only 500 men, and a few horses and cannon.

As the legitimacy of any claims to property rights in the New World rested on often contested and shaky ground, the predominant language of justification that emerged by the middle of the sixteenth century was that of the ‘‘just war.’’ If the pope could not donate territory, it was often argued, it could be legally acquired as the legitimate spoils of a just war. Hence, whether or not the conquests of the Americas or the Philippines constituted just wars became a topic of not inconsiderable dispute among jurists, theologians, and missionaries.


The Spanish wars of conquest in the Caribbean, Mexico, Peru, and the Philippines were thought to be just wars by their protagonists. In fact, they ...

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Portugal and decolonization

by Mitch on June 9, 2011 0 Comments

The Portuguese Army in Angola 1968-74


by Mitch on November 18, 2010 0 Comments

Map of Macau Peninsula in 1639

Macao (also Macau), a special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China, occupies a small, hilly peninsula located on the west shore of the Pearl River (or Zhujiang River) on the southeast coast of China. Originally less than 15 square kilometers (5.8 square miles), the peninsula and the adjacent islands of Taipa and Colôane have expanded by land reclamation since the early twentieth century to 27 square kilometers (10.4 square miles). The population in 2004 was approximately 460,000, 95 percent comprising Chinese immigrants from the South China provinces, plus a small number of perhaps no more than 5,000 Macanese, the mixed-blood descendants of early Portuguese unions with Asian peoples.


Macao was founded in 1557 by Portuguese traders seeking a location for a permanent commercial settlement. Until the founding of Hong Kong nearly 300 years later, Macao was the ...

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Warfare in Africa WWI

by Mitch on October 5, 2010 0 Comments

For the Great War in Africa, although the product of European devices and desires, was fought principally by the Africans themselves. In all, somewhere over 2 million Africans served in the First World War as soldiers or labourers, and upwards of 200,000 of them died or were killed in action. By comparison with Europe such figures are low—the first represents between 1 and 2 per cent of the total population of Africa. But in a local context a comparison with twentieth-century industrialized nation states is inappropriate; never before in the history of Africa had manpower been mobilized on such a scale.

Both during the war and after it, British and French propaganda accused the Germans of militarizing Africa: they had, said Lloyd George on 24 January 1919, ‘raised native troops and encouraged these troops to behave in a manner that would even disgrace the Bolsheviks’. Such rhetoric was ...

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