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Legacy of Colonization in Angola

Emmanuel Massalee

September 22nd, 2017

Section 0201

Reino de Angola, which means the Kingdom of Angola in Portuguese, was the old

colonial name of Angola. Angola was colonized by the Portuguese during the 1400s but

officially became a colony in during the Berlin conference in 1884. The Angolan War for

Independence happened in the early 1960s to early 1970s. They gained independence from

Portugal in November of 1975, which was followed by a civil war that lasted until 2002.

(Heywood & Thornton 118)

Although there are several languages spoken in Angola, the official language of Angola is

Portuguese. The capital of Angola, Luanda is a coastal city and port used to import and export

goods. The major exports of Angola are crude oil, diamonds, and refined petroleum. The

exportation of oil has caused an immeasurable boom in its economy. This boom has made

Luanda one of the most expensive cities in the world while the rest of the country is still

impoverished. The major imports of Angola are machinery and electrical equipment, vehicles,

Medicines, and military goods (CIA).

The colony of Angola used to produce a majority of major crops traded during Atlantic slave

triangle such as sugar, tobacco, cotton, coffee, and corn. Today they rarely export crops except

for a small percentage of coffee which is less than 2 percent. The Human Development Index of

Angola is 0.533 while it is ranked 150 in the world (hdr.undp.org). This index shows that Angola

is a country with low human development that indicates it is a developing nation. Angola is a

southern African country and it is bordered by Namibia and the Democratic Republic of the

Congo. Angola is a coastal country bordering the southern Atlantic Ocean to the west. Angola is

made up of tropical rain forests in the north, plateaus and savannas in the middle. While to the

east there are dry hills and mountains, and finally up north there are basins and rivers. (CIA)
Cultural Legacy

The Portuguese colonized Kingdom of Angola with the intention to exploit the resources of

the land. Before they did that they had to get to the hearts of the Angolans. They forced the

Angolans to learn Portuguese and embrace Portuguese culture. The Portuguese believed in the

concept of Lusotropicalism which was used to justify the colonization of Countries. According to

Gerard J. Bender, Lusotropicalism is the idea that due to the historically unique absence of

racism among the Portuguese people, their colonization of tropical, non-European territories was

characterized by racially egalitarian legislation and human interaction. (Bender 3) The

Portuguese naturally thought that the Africans were inferior to them, but they needed to find a

way for the Africans and Whites to coexist. The Africans had to assimilate to the Portuguese

culture while keeping traces of their culture. (Bender 28)

The legacy of culture that the Portuguese left behind was beneficial for the development

of Angola because it empowered them to retain their traditional culture. Due to this

empowerment, they had the courage to revolt against the Portuguese regime and become

independent. Although the lingua franca is Portuguese many of the people still speak their native

language and practice tribal traditions. The colonization of Angola has left a lot of problems

inside of the country. Though they were forced to take on a new culture and language which was

horrible and most definitely should be a negative impact it but they received their independence

because of it.
Infrastructure/Architecture Legacy

Luanda is the colonial and the modern-day capital of Angola. The coastal city was a

major port in the 1800s and was used by the Portuguese to export slaves to Brazil, and cash crops

such as sugar, tobacco, coffee, and cotton to Europe. The Portuguese that were in Angola at the

time mainly live in Luanda. The colonizers had to add infrastructure to Luanda and build the city

similar to cities in Portuguese. In order to discourage revolts during the 1960s, the Portuguese

government implemented colonial development policy which would develop rural communities

and impoverished areas in Angola to appeal to the hearts and minds of the population and

crush the anti-colonial challenge. (Guimaraes 12)

This legacy that the Portuguese left behind in Angola was negative. The legacy had a

negative impact because during the war for independence the Portuguese had no time finish the

infrastructure that they were adding and had destroyed most of them during the war. After

Angola gained its independence the Angolan civil war occurred. Much of the roads, bridges, and

railways were destroyed during the civil war that recently ended in 2002, the Angolans have not

had enough time to rebuild their society which has left them as a developing country. (Hanson)

The Portuguese left Angola in an unstable position and the newly founded country had a power

grab between multiple parties during the cold war. Some of these countries and parties are Cuba,

USSR, the U.S., Marxists, and communists.

Due to Luanda being the capital during colonial times most of the development that occurs

today is centered in or around Luanda. This leaves most of the rural and tribal areas in poverty

where they are still feeling the ramifications of the war.

Political Legacy

The Portuguese had a direct military control on Angola which meant that they controlled

every aspect of Angolan society and government. The Angolans had no real form of government

to step up to take the place of the Portuguese who did not give Angola its independence without

a fight. They fought a bloody battle which destroyed most of the infrastructure in Angola. One of

the legacies that the Portuguese left behind in Angola was leaving Angola to figure things out for

themselves especially when it comes to its governmental structure.

According to the text, The Origins of the Angolan Civil War, The intransigence of the

Portuguese colonial regime in denying political expression and representation in Angola was

partly behind the choices made by the three main movements, the MPLA, the FNLA, and

UNITA. (Guimaraes 31) The text explains that the Angolans had no way to express themselves

under the rule of the Portuguese regime. Due to the Angolans having no means to represent

themselves they had to use violence and fought against Portugal regime.

The Angolans had no way to go about things peacefully because they had no representation and

were oppressed by the Portuguese army. Due to this they only had one method which was to

revolt and use violence. The Angolans also had the support of the U.S. and Cuba. Right after

Angola gained its independence they had a power struggle between three parties the Peoples

Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), National Union for the Total Independence of

Angola (UNITA), and Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC). This power

struggle led to a civil war that lasted from 1975 to 2002. (Schmidt 80)

The legacy that the Portuguese left behind in Angola had a negative impact on the

countrys development. There was a negative impact because the war for independence led to the
civil war due to a power struggle. The Angolan Civil war killed and displaced many innocent

people. Due to the civil war the country had not developed for 27 years. This stagnation has

caused Angola to lack skilled workers, bad healthcare, and also not enough schools to educate all

the children. Another impact due to the political legacy that Portugal had left behind is the

corruption that is now prevalent in the Angolan government. This stems back to the civil war

where multiple parties were fighting to take power but now this is happening behind closed

doors of development. (Hanson)

Works Cited
Decolonization and Conflict : Colonial Comparisons and Legacies, edited by Martin Thomas,
and Gareth Curless, Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, 2017. ProQuest Ebook Central,

Hanson, Stephanie . Angola's Political and Economic Development. Council on Foreign

Relations, Council on Foreign Relations, 17 July 2008,
www.cfr.org/backgrounder/angolas-political-and-economic-development. Accessed 22
Sept. 2017.

Heywood, Linda M., and John K. Thornton. Central Africans, Atlantic Creoles, and the
Foundation of the Americas, 1585-1660. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2007.

Human Development Reports. | Human Development Reports,

hdr.undp.org/en/countries/profiles/AGO. Accessed 22 Sept. 2017.

Guimaraes, Fernando A. The Origins of the Angolan Civil War : Foreign Intervention and
Domestic Political Conflict, 1961-76. Basingstoke England, Palgrave Macmillan, 2001.

Schmidt, Elizabeth. Foreign Intervention in Africa : From the Cold War to the War on Terror,
Cambridge University Press, 2013. ProQuest Ebook Central,

The World Factbook: ANGOLA. Central Intelligence Agency, Central Intelligence Agency, 8
Sept. 2017, www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ao.html. Accessed
22 Sept. 2017.