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Generational Country Study: Angola

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Map of Angola
Map of Angola

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Generational Crisis Wars

-- Angola: Late 19th century-1910 – Portuguese Imperialism (Crisis)
-- Angola: 1911-1930 – Republican Era (Recovery)
-- Angola: 1931-1951 – Growth of Nationalism (Awakening)
-- Angola: 1952-1960 – Resistance Grows (Unraveling)
-- Angola: 1961-1988 – War of Independence and Civil War (Crisis)
-- Angola: 1989-Present – Political Tensions and Democratic Acceptance (Recovery)

Brief Generational History - updated 7-June-2008

Angolan resistance in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to Portuguese imperialism was fierce in this Crisis era. Artillery, fortifications, and intensive combat consumed much of Portugal's attention. In a Crisis War, especially those resisting foreign expansion, will continue to fight in the face of overwhelming odds. In particular, the Demos ethnic group fought to preserve their homeland and refused to surrender, but ultimately were overrun in 1910.

Due to the financial difficulties brought on by World War I and the violence in the previous decades, Angola's recovery era was filled with hardship, but the development of a diamond industry in the 1920s improved employment numbers and social conditions. Following a right-wing military coup in Portugal led by Antσnio de Oliveira Salazar, the Colonial Act of 1930 was instituted with the aim of integrating Portuguese culture into Angola.

Economic success was achieved in the late 1940s due to increased prices in coffee, which benefited Angolan producers. However, the authoritarian regime in Portugal silenced the growing objections among Angolan citizens. In an Awakening era, occurring 20-40 years after a Crisis era, a burst of idealism often brings about cultural and social change, as well as dissatisfaction with prevailing norms. A nascent nationalist movement opposing Portugal's subjugation of Angola developed, as did a class conflict between rich and poor.

These emotions unraveled in the following decade, provoking calls for separatism. The Portuguese government refused, thus beginning the Colonial War (or Angolan War of Independence) in 1961. Thousands of Africans and Portuguese were killed in this Crisis War, and many more were displaced. Independence in 1975 was achieved following the overthrow of the Portuguese regime the previous year (known as the Carnation Revolution), thus leading to the acceptance of African autonomy. The coalition of the three major separatist movements collapsed, and Angola descended into civil war, which also served as a proxy war for Cold War participants. The two antagonists were the communist MPLA (supported by the Soviet Union and Cuba) and the anti-communist UNITA (supported by the United States and South Africa), reflecting the divisions developed in the Awakening. The war killed hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, before climaxing in the battle of Cuito Cuanavale (1987-1988), the largest battle in Africa since World War Two. Both sides claimed victory, but the battle led to the departure of foreign troops as well as negotiations between the MPLA and UNITA factions.

Following the establishment of democracy, elections were held, and in 1991, the MPLA garnered a plurality of votes. In the fragile Recovery era, sporadic localized fighting broke out in the late 1990s and early 2000s. In 2002, UNITA demobilized its troops. Today, there is peace in Angola, and an Awakening era lurks on the horizon.

-- Matt Ignal

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Flag for Angola
Country Flag for Angola

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