Dr António Agostinho Neto, independence freedom fighter, Pan-Africanist and Culturalist, poet, medical doctor and the revolutionary first president of Angola.
António Agostinho Neto (September 17, 1922 – September 10, 1979) was celebrated Pan-Africanist, renowned poet and physician as well as revolutionary leader who after fighting against imperialist Portuguese become the first President of Angola (1975–1979). This unique and selfless extraordinary leader founded the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) in the war for independence (1961–1974).
As a medical student in Lisbon, Neto made friends with Amílcar Lopes Cabral of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde), Marcelino dos Santos of Mozambique and several other students from Africa and formed an Africa cultural society (known as the Anti-Colonial Movement) – developing what they termed "the re-Africanization of the mind", a process which they compared to the French movement négritude. Many from the society became leaders of anti-colonial movements back in Africa.
In 1948, Agostinho Neto became recognized globally as a gifted poet, he published his first volume of poetry and joined a national cultural movement that was aimed at “rediscovering” indigenous Angolan culture. He was arrested for the first time. His poetry talked about African colonization, struggle of Africans and chastised the colonial establishment. His work was published in a number of Portuguese and Angolan reviews and was included in Mário de Andrade’s Antologia da Poesia Negra de Expressão Portuguesa (1958).
Fidel Castro welcomes the President Sekou Touré and Agostinho Neto, which he assisted in the Revolution
There followed a series of arrests and detainments which interrupted his studies. Neto returned home as a doctor in 1959 but was arrested in the presence of his patients in June 1960 because of his militant opposition to the colonial authorities.
When his patients protested his arrest, the police opened fire, killing some and injuring 200. Neto spent the next two years in detention in Cape Verde and in Portugal, where he produced a new volume of verse. In 1962 he managed to escape to Morocco, where he joined the Movimento Popular da Libertação de Angola (MPLA, Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola) in exile when it was formed in 1956. At the end of 1962 he was elected president of the Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola (MPLA).
Until his death, he led the MPLA in the civil war (1975–2002). His birthday is celebrated as National Heroes Day, a public holiday in Angola.
A. Agostinho Neto & J. M. Sidónio Savimbi (with his famous walking stick) after a meeting
Agostinho Neto was born at Kaxicane, parish of S. Joseph at Icolo in Bengo, bathed by the abundant waters of the Kwanza River in the region of Cattete, 60 km from Luanda, Angola on 17th September 1922. His father was Agostinho Neto Snr, catechist of American Methodist Mission in Luanda, and later pastor and teacher in Dembos, and the mother was Mary d Silva Neto, a teacher.
The young Neto attended his basic school at Methodist Primary school in Luanda and completed in 1934. His parents moved to Luanda to settle. Neto pursued his secondary school education in 1934 at the Lycée Salvador Correia (now Mutu-ya-Kevela). After seven years in school he finally enrolled in 1944 at the Lyceum, obtaining his certificate from the Liceu Salvador Correia, of Luanda.
After school, Neto was employed briefly as a Health and Hygiene worker at Malanje and Bier in Angola. Neto writes "here I was refused residence and booked into a second class hotel whilst white workers mostly illiterates stayed in government estates." Agostinho Neto received another scholarship (which status could not determine) which was granted by a Portuguese institution, IASA - Institute of Social Welfare Angola.
Agostinho Neto (Standing right) with fellow students in Lisbon
This scholarship, was in the amount of three thousand shellings (very high sum at the time). It was raised by Agostinho Neto in Overseas Ministry, in consequence of having been arrested and pronounced as "subversive activities" in the Criminal Court of Porto . Alerted to this fact by the PIDE, the IASA suspend the award of the scholarship in 1955.
Neto and his wife
After serving for sometime, he later left Angola to Portugal in order to attend the Faculty of Medicine of Coimbra and Lisbon. He combined his academic life with covert political activity of a revolutionary sort; and PIDE, the security police force of the Estado Novo regime headed by Portuguese Prime Minister Salazar, arrested him in 1951 for his separatist activism. He was charged for being "in possession of subversive pamphlets." According to the Youth bulletin, published by the Central Committee of the copier MUD Juvenil, the arrest occurred when Neto, in the company of colleagues and a White pal, Marília Veiga Pereira, were collecting signatures for the "Appeal for Peace Pact."
Neto was also a hardcore member of the literary salons of Tia Andreza (paragraph 37 Street Actor Valley, Lisbon). Among the regulars of the literary salons were other Angolans such as Mário Pinto de Andrade, Lucio Lara and Humberto Machado, the STP poets Francisco José Tenreiro and Alda's Holy Spirit, the Guinean Amilcar Cabral and Mozambican poet Naomi de Sousa. These people were very dedicated and according to Mário Pinto de Andrade, they make a conscious pledge to "return to the sources, the rediscovery of the African, the" re-Africanization ". It was, after all, the Lisbon replica of a universal African movement (led by Nicolás Guillén, Sedar Denghor, Aimé Césaire and others) that the Angolan intellectuals deployed the concept under the name of "blackness" and in Luanda it find equivalence in literary trend "Let's find out Angola ".
The PIDE was aware of the activities of Neto and all his intellectual young pals, as well as many others who visited them. Whilst the surveillance against them was going on, a young beautiful girl who lived down the street that the CMA had its headquarters, was constantly observing them. This young lady would sometimes star at the window and watched the constant entry and exit of students and seafarers in front of her house street. One day she broached come a conversation and established friendly relations was one of their brilliant chaps. The young man in question was Agostinho Neto and the lady was called Maria Eugenia Silva.
Neto was arrested again by PIDE on February 9, 1955, Agostinho Neto spent two and spent years in the cells of the Portuguese political police station and then in Jail Aljube in Porto.
In December 1956 the Angolan Communist Party (PCA) merged with the Party of the United Struggle for Africans in Angola (PLUA) to form the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola with Viriato da Cruz, the President of the PCA, as Secretary General and Neto as President. He was released on June 12, 1957.
1975 Press Photo MPLA Leader Agostino Neto Returns From Exile to Luanda
Immediately after being released from prison, Agostinho Neto resumed political contacts with his former comrades in arms. In no time he participated in MAC foundation - Anti-colonialist movement, that was the driving power for Guinea Amilcar Cabral. The organization`s Manifesto was authored by Viriato da Cruz, and was later amended by Mário Pinto de Andrade and Lúcio Lara. After series of political activism and interrupted imprisonments, Agostinho Neto finally completed his medical studies on 27 October 1958, eleven years after having enrolled in Coimbra. He was then 35 years old, and on the same day he graduated as medical doctor he married Maria Eugénia da Silva, his white Portuguese girlfriend of 23-years who was born in Trás-os-Montes. Lúcio Lara is one of the Neto`s groomsmen and during the popping of champagne time at the wedding, Neto told Maria Eugenia`s mother that "a politician does not make anyone happy."
For a brief period, Agostinho Neto became a normal citizen, a breadwinner for his family who was in a prestigious profession as qualified hospital doctor. In all his medical practice, he never ceased his political meetings.
He returned to Angola in 1959. Edmundo Rocha writes: "After finishing his bumpy course in Medicine, Agostinho Neto decided to put his energy in a fight against the enemy citadel, the Crown Jewel of Portuguese colonialism. He could have chosen abroad as insurance that would allow him to attend the African intellectual salons in Paris, as many after him and his contemporaries such as Mário de Andrade, Viriato Cruz, Lucio Lara and other nationalists did. But (...) settled in Luanda in late 1959 as a doctor of the poor neighborhoods (...), six months after the wave of arrests of most African nationalists, white Angolan and Portuguese progressives, he revealed his intrepid strength and moral courage against the colonial establishment acknowledging the tight surveillance PIDE had on him. "
As it has always been the case with Agostinho Neto in Portugal concerning his political activities, on June 8, 1960, just before six months pf his arrival in Angola, the Deputy Director of PIDE in Angola, São José Lopes, burst into his office and put him under arrest. (...) Then they took him, amid the protests of his wife, who also the PIDE officials threatened to arrest. The wife challenged the PIDE officials to arrest her too but she was told her husband was black, as if being black was an anathema in Angola. PIDE arrested other five black men who dared to protest against unlawful and racially fueled arrest of the medical doctor.
In Luanda, the arrest of Agostinho Neto gave rise to massive uproar amongst the native Africans. They could not understand why the colonial government to silence their intellectual and physician who cater for them. The uproar lead to massive protest movement in no time. His patients and supporters marched for his release from Bengo to Catete, but were stopped when Portuguese soldiers shot at them, killing 30 and wounding 200 in what became known as the Massacre of Icolo e Bengo. The massacre received international coverage thereby culminating in Angolan colonial regime received international condemnation
The Portugal government immediately put up a containment plan by exiling Agostinho Neto and the Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Luanda, Joaquim Pinto de Andrade who gave support to the movement, via Portuguese military plane to Cape Verde. He was then exported to Portugal; once more, contrary to what was promised - and that was found to be an agreement between the Minister of Overseas and the governor-general of Angola, to avoid further fuss internationally - Agostinho Neto was incarcerated in Jail Aljube in Lisbon in solitary confinement. The initial agreement as reached in exchange of letters between the PIDE and the Overseas Ministry concerning Neto was that ""Agostinho Neto should be given an opportunity to practice his profession in the place where previously pointed out as dangerous if the situation is preventable." In line with this, "he was to travel to any of the adjacent islands", ie, Madeira and the Azores. (...). The Director-General of the PIDE, proposed to establish residence for Agostinho Neto in Cape Verde and Joaquim Pinto de Andrade in Sao Tome and Principe, "provided, of course, to be subjected to certain conditions and proper supervision." This agreement was thrown away and Neto was rather transferred from Cape Verde amidst outpouring of support by the Cape Verdians, to Lisbon on board a ship named "Alfredo da Silva." His son Mario Jorge was then 11 years. Neto`s daughter, Irene was born two months after their arrival in Cape Verde.
Neto requested to the Portugal authorities to give him free passage to seek political asylum in any of the latin American countries but it was declined. The Portuguese cited a propaganda photograph (which was white dick with black cock) they claimed his wife was circulating as an excuse. His wife and Portuguese Communist Party (PCP) of which Neto was a member waged a media campaign against the Portuguese government over the unlawful arrest of Neto.
After international protest Salazar's administration urging Neto's release, Neto was freed from prison and put under house arrest. From this he escaped, going first to Morocco and then to Zaire.
Agostinho Neto and Eduardo Dos Santos
In 1962 Neto visited Washington, D.C. and asked the Kennedy administration for aid in his war against Portugal. The U.S. government turned him down, because it had oil interests in colonial Angola, choosing instead to support Holden Roberto's comparatively anti-Communist National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA).
Neto met Che Guevara in 1965 and began receiving support from Cuba. He visited Havana many times, and he and Fidel Castro shared similar ideological views.
Angola Luanda. African woman demonstrates her joy.Arrival of Agostinho Neto. Returns after 4 years of exile.
Following the Carnation Revolution in Portugal during April 1974 (which deposed Salazar's successor Marcelo Caetano), three political factions vied for Angolan power. One of the three was the MPLA, to which Neto belonged. On November 11, 1975, Angola achieved full independence from the Portuguese, and Neto became the nation's ruler after the MPLA seized Luanda at the expense of the other liberation movements. He established a one-party state and his government developed close links with the Soviet Union and other nations in the Eastern bloc and other Communist states, particularly Cuba, which aided the MPLA considerably in its war with the FNLA, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and South Africa. However, while Neto made the MPLA declare Marxism-Leninism its official doctrine, his position was to favour a socialist, not a communist model. As a consequence, he violently repressed a movement later called Fractionism which in 1977 attempted a coup d' état inspired by the Organização dos Comunistas de Angola. Tens of thousands followers (or alleged followers) of Nito Alves were executed in the aftermath of the attempted coup, over a period that lasted up to two years.
Neto died in a hospital in Moscow, while undergoing surgery for cancer, shortly before his 57th birthday. Jose Eduardo dos Santos succeeded him as president. But the Angolan civil war continued to rage for almost a quarter of a century more.
Agostinho Neto (left) with Cuban President Fidel Castro
Neto and Angolan ambassador Brazil dance whilst his wife Maria chat with the ambassador`s wife
The Soviet Union awarded Neto the Lenin Peace Prize for 1975-76.
The public university of Luanda, the Agostinho Neto University, is named after him. A poem by Chinua Achebe, Africa’s leading novelist, whose novels, including No Longer at Ease and Things Fall Apart, are contemporary classics, entitled Agostinho Neto was written in his honor.
by Chinua Achebe
Agostinho, were you no more
Than the middle one favored by fortune
In children's riddle; Kwame
Striding ahead to accost
Demons; behind you a laggard third
As yet unnamed, of twisted fingers?
No! Your secure strides
Were hard earned. Your feet
Learned their fierce balance
In violent slopes of humiliation;
Your delicate hands, patiently
Groomed for finest incisions,
Were commandeered brusquely to kill,
Your gentle voice to battle-cry.
Perhaps your family and friends
Knew a merry flash cracking the gloom
We see in pictures but I prefer
And will keep that sorrowful legend.
For I have seen how
Half a millennium of alien rape
And murder can stamp a smile
On the vacant face of the fool,
The sinister grin of Africa's idiot-kings
Who oversee in obscene palaces of gold
The butchery of their own people.
Neto, I sing your passing, I,
Timid requisitioner of your vast
Armory's most congenial supply.
What shall I sing? A dirge answering
The gloom? No, I will sing tearful songs
Of joy; I will celebrate
The man who rode a trinity
Of awesome fates to the cause
Of our trampled race!
Thou Healer, Soldier and Poet!
Agostinho Neto" and friends
An airport in Santo Antão, Cape Verde, is named after him, due to the beloved work he performed there as a doctor. For the same reason, the main hospital of Cape Verde in the capital Praia is named "Hospital Agostinho Neto" (HAN). There is also a morna dedicated to him. A street in New Belgrade in Serbia is named after him, the Dr. Agostina Neta street.
In 1973, during one of his few unofficial visits to Bulgaria, Neto met a woman with whom he had a daughter, Mihaela Marinova, who was raised in orphanages in Bulgaria. Neto's family has not recognised the child.
Statue of Agostinho Neto in Maianga, Luanda, Angola
Poems of Agostinho Neto
In the dark quarters of the world
Without light, without life.
They are slave quarters
Worlds of misery. Dark quarters
Where the will is watered down
And men have been confused
Anxious to live,
I walk in the streets
Feeling my way
Leaning into my shapeless dreams
Stumbling into servitude.
I walk lurching
Through the unlit
Unknown streets crowded
With mystery and terror,
I, arm in arm with ghosts.
And the night too is dark.
Agostinho Neto and MPLA are visited by Che Guevara
Sheets of tin nailed to posts
driven in the ground
make up the house.
Some rags complete the intimate landscape.
The sun slanting through cracks
welcomes the owner
after twelve hours of slave
Old age comes early
a mat on dark nights
is enough when he dies
Out on the horizon
there are fires
and the dark silhouettes of the beaters
with arms outstretched,
in the air, the green smell of burning palms.
In the street
a line of 1Bailundu bearers
tremble under the weight of their load
in the room
a mulatto girl with meek eyes
colours her face with rice powder and rouge
a woman wriggles her hips under a garish cloth
on the bed
a man, sleepless, dreams
of buying knives and forks so he can eat at table
in the sky the glow
and the silhouette of black men dancing
with arms outstretched,
in the air, the hot music of marimbas
and in the room the mulatto girl
on the bed the man, sleepless
the burnings consume
the hot earth with horizons afire.
1Bailundu:A class of urban workers who hire out their casual labour, by carrying loads on their heads often for long distances, for which they are paid barely survival wages. In Ghana they called kayaye and other West African countries they are generally called Kayakaya.
Lusaka, Zambia The Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda greets the President of Angola Agostinho Neto (centre) and President Julius Nyerere of Tanzania during their talks here on the future of Rhodesia.
We shall return
To the houses, to our crops,
to the beaches, to our fields
we shall return
To our lands
Red with coffee
White with cotton
Green with maize fields
we shall return
To our mines of diamonds
Gold, copper, oil
we shall return
To our rivers, our lakes
our mountains, our forests
we will return
To the shade of the mulemba
To our traditions
To the rhythms and bonfires
we shall return
To the marimba and the quissange
to our carnival
we shall return
To our beautiful Angolan homeland
our land, our mother
we shall return
We shall return
to liberated Angola
A poem by Agostinho Neto, Aljube Prison in Lisbon, October 1960
FEBRUARY – AGOSTINHO NETO
It was then the Atlantic
in the course of time
gave back the carcasses of men
swathed in white flowers of foam
and in the victims’ boundless hate,
brought on waves of death’s congealed blood
And the beaches were smothered by crows and
jackals with a bestial hunger for the battered flesh
on the sands
of the land, scorched by the terror of centuries
enslaved and chained,
of the land called green
which children even now call green for hope.
It was then that the bodies in the sea
swelled up with shame and salt
in the course of time
in blood-stained waters
of desire and weakness.
It was then that in our eyes, fired
now with blood, now with life, now with death
we buried our dead victoriously,
and on the graves made recognition
of the reason men were sacrificed
even while facing death, in the course of time,
in blood-stained waters
And within us
the green land of San Tome
will be also the island of love.
Source: From A Selection of African Poetry Anthology introduced and annotated by Kojo E Senanu and Theo Vincent
Agostinho Neto, Pamphlet, 1972
“Messages to Companions in the Struggle”
Liberation Support Movement Pamphlet Collection
Prepared and Printed by
LSM INFORMATION CENTER
RICHMOND, B.C. CANADA
MESSAGES TO COMPANIONS IN THE STRUGGLE
(1) Message to Companions in the Struggle
(8) Speech delivered to the 3rd Conference of Non-aligned Countries: Working Together in Defense of Justice
(11) Commemorating the 15th Anniversary of MPLA
[Radio broadcast, undated, prior to 1972]
Message to Companions in the Struggle
Companions in the Struggle,
It is with great pleasure that I take this opportunity, offered by the External Service of Radio Tanzania, to send you this message - a message that is destined not only for our Angolan compatriots and comrades of the MPLA but also our brave companions in struggle in Mozambique who, under the banner of FRELIMO, raise high the flame of revolt against Portuguese colonial occupation.
United in the same combat, the people of the Portuguese colonies of Guinea (Bissau), Mozambique and Angola have inflicted innumerable defeats upon the enemy, especially in recent times. The areas controlled by the guerrillas are continuously growing. The new life in these areas is advancing and, in the process, opening up roads towards the restoration of our peoples' independence that was lost in past centuries, and also their dignity and just place in the world.
Thus it is that, in order to achieve common objectives, the movements directing the struggles in these countries that are still dominated by Portugal are united and cooperate closely, while respecting the differences that exist in the specific conditions of each country. In general, however, what is certain is that our struggle will not stop developing and progressing.
The cooperation of the people of the present Portuguese colonies in this phase and also in the future is and will be absolutely essential not only for the conquest of independence but also during the phase of national reconstruction.
Fortunately, we already have before us the experience of Africa after the independence of the countries of our continent that were dominated by imperialism. If, on the one hand, this experience has shown many positive aspects, it is evident that, in other ways, it has revealed weaknesses - one of the principal being the general economic dependence in relations with the former metropolitan countries, the effect of which is to impede access to complete independence.
This experience must stimulate us, who are fighting with arms in hand, to look for more advanced and much more effective forms of organization in order to achieve our purpose: complete independence. The blood that is being shed by the best of the sons of our countries, and the efforts of each guerrilla and of every one of our people, must not be spent in vain, in methods that are inappropriate for organization in the present and inadequate for administration in the future. It is necessary that the real control of the country, whether from the political, economic or social point of view, be in the hands of the people who are devoted to the struggle, and not in the fists of bureaucrats who - it could be said in passing - are dishonest and not always those who will be found or are, today, to be found in the battle-field. Much less could we allow foreigners to continue to exploit our peoples; for imperialism to extend its clutches over our countries and subjugate them in neo-colonialism. We have to fight for complete independence!
There is no doubt that for complete independence, political, economic and social, and for our peoples to really be the masters of their own destiny, it is necessary that we provide ourselves with the appropriate instruments for action. In the present phase, it is necessary that the struggle be completely under the orientation of an independent party with well-defined ideas; that its militants be disciplined and absorb fully the doctrine of their party. It is necessary that the leaders themselves be honest, modest and active, and that they do not spare their efforts for the good orientation and organization of their people. It is necessary that they be always at the side of their people, with them in their suffering and in their daily sacrifices.
One of the more debated problems of recent times is the presence in our territories of Portuguese, or the descendants of Portuguese, whose ideas coincide with ours, whose lives have been dedicated to the struggle against fascism in Portugal, and who understand and accept the right of the peoples of the Portuguese colonies to regain their independence and self-government, like any other sovereign people.
On this point we have sometimes observed negative reactions on the part of some of our combatants and of our friends. It is those negative attitudes that can prejudice and deter the success of our struggle for freedom. I speak of the problem of racialism.
In our countries we are not making a racial war. Our objective is not to fight against the white man solely because he is white. It is that we fight those who support the colonial regime. All those in our territories who show raised unarmed hands, or who show themselves willing to give their collaboration to the guerrillas, providing them with foodstuffs and products that are unavailable in the forests; all those who in any manner show their desire not to cooperate with the colonial regime must not be despised or treated as enemies. They constitute a force that operates in our favor, in the same way as on the international plane. There we do not seek support only in the countries of Africa south of the Sahara, called Black Africa, where the skin of the inhabitants is darker; but we also go to look for the aid of countries of No. Africa, where the people have a light skin. We go even further to Europe to look for political, diplomatic and material help from countries where the majority of the population have white color, and in other continents where the racial differences are even more evident. If, on account of racial differences, we despise that formidable force that is represented by progressives of the whole world, and by the underdeveloped countries, we will only be digging our own grave.
Our struggle is not an isolated struggle in the world. It is part of a global struggle by humanity to bring an end to the exploitation of man by man, and it is within this framework that we must view our struggle outside the narrow limits of racial prejudice.
Therefore, we invite the Portuguese, the sons of Portuguese people, who are in uniform and armed in Angola, Mozambique and Guinea (Bissau), to desert the ranks of the colonialist army and not to soil their hands with the blood of innocent men, women and children whose only objective is to be free - acting in the same manner as did the heroic Portuguese themselves during the Arab occupation of Spain. Instead of assassinating defenceless people, they must raise their arms in surrender when confronted by the guerrillas of MPLA, FRELIMO or PAIGC. They will be received as men and will be given the choice of a destination in those countries that accept political refugees. Or better still, we make an appeal to the Portuguese to desert with their arms and cross to the side of the nationalists, avoiding the shame of participating in an unjust war that is as dirty as the war in Vietnam.
During the course of the war in Angola, MPLA have had occasion to admit to neighboring countries some Portuguese who had deserted. And there, in various countries, some of them are actively engaged in struggle against the Salazar regime, while others go about their work so that they and their families may live in peace.
Therefore, if there still exists in some of our combatants the idea of a war against the white man, it is necessary that it be immediately substituted by the idea of a war against colonialism and against imperialism; a war against oppression, for the liberty and for the dignity of all men in the world. This idea will fortify our struggle. It will offer more guarantees and new perspectives that open up a brilliant future for all men. In a time of hatred we will have fraternity and understanding.
I do not wish to say, comrades and dear companions in the struggle, that we must be weak, that we do not have to train hard and inflict the bravest possible blows upon the racists who desire to dominate the African people; that we have to be complacent with the agents of PIDE or with the settlers organized into militias. Absolutely not! To those only one language is applicable. Only one justice is possible. Only one law of war can be adopted. They have to be liquidated, for they are the bulwarks of colonialist exploitation.
But we must not confuse friends and enemies. We have to take care in differentiating - to chose, to distinguish who are our friends and who are our enemies.
At times it is precisely our enemies who keep us from friends, taking advantage of our political naivete or our weaknesses - one of which could be racial prejudice. Where there does not exist a clear idea on this subject, the imperialist enemy can easily separate us from our friends and we could even liquidate, with our own hands, valuable forces within our own ranks.
There was a time, between 1961 and 1963, when reactionary forces commanded by imperialism showed themselves active in the north of our country and thousands of coloreds and assimilados were assassinated only because they were coloreds or assimilados. In this way, we lost thousands of men, women and children, almost all of whom were sincere patriots and combatants, ardent for our cause of liberation.
This happened only because the imperialists were able to inculcate in the mentality of politically-unclear combatants the idea that all those who had slightly lighter skin or who know how to speak Portuguese or still had to serve in the colonial administration were necessarily traitors who were not able and had not the right to fight for independence. It was the Angolan nationalist forces who suffered from this - losing precious lives, important cadres for the revolution and for the future life of the country. They were victims who were added to the victims of the colonialists themselves.
But the germs that produced such deviations from our line of political action are not only originated by imperialism. They derive also from ourselves, and therefore we have also to combat our weaknesses and our deficiencies; combat all that is negative in ourselves, in our militants, in our combatants. At times, what generates that hatred based upon skin color is ambition - the desire to secure for himself a good place in the future.
And from racialism to tribalism it is only one step.
Within our organization, the MPLA, we rigorously fight against such defects. The ambitious, the presumptuous, those who provoke disturbances and slanders in order to be able to occupy posts that they frequently do not deserve or are not even able to fill properly - these are denounced before the militants and before the entire people.
It is also by fighting in this sphere of combat - in the ideological formation of men and in the political education of the militants - that we will be able to guarantee for our future a life that is truly free.
In our parties we must, therefore, look for a political line that could save us from racialism and tribalism and from the mistakes that were committed in those countries where independence came earlier and by other means.
Fortunately, for those who fight on the side of justice and against tyranny, for those who desire freedom, armed action is not only a sacrifice, it is above all a FORCE. It is not only the irrigation of our battlefields with the blood of the best sons of our peoples. It is also a school - a means by which the people continue this struggle in the future, after political independence, in order to be completely free - politically, economically and socially independent.
The experience of Africa has taught us many things. Amongst those, we can cite one more - the lesson that the party must control the life of the country during every moment. The strength that gave us arms with which to defend ourselves from foreign occupation will also able to guarantee true independence in the future. And it is necessary that the party be built up, that it constitute the backbone, the base and the principal element in the life of the nation.. .and that it be independent. Where there is no party, where the militants are not placed under a strict discipline, where the leaders are not bound to revolutionary principles - there anarchy enters. There the enemies penetrate more easily, and instead of independence we will have neo-colonialism or an insecure balance between progress and reaction.
And that we do not want! We want complete independence.
At the beginning of this message I spoke about the existing union between the organizations directing the armed struggle in the countries dominated by Portugal, namely FRELIMO, PAIGC and MPLA, or between the peoples of Mozambique, Guinea (Bissau) and Angola. This union is just and necessary, and the forms of our cooperation in the struggle must be perfected because our enemies also coordinate their activities. Nobody is ignorant of the support given by the NATO countries to help Portugal continue her unjust war. No one is now ignorant of the fact that the struggle in Angola, Mozambique and Guinea (Bissau) could have already ended victoriously for the respective peoples were it not for the material and other help rendered to Portugal by the imperialists united in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. It is the United States of America, the Federal Republic of Germany, France, Great Britain and certain other countries which sustain Portugal.
Yet another danger, however, is appearing and is already taking concrete form in certain spheres - the intervention of the racist regime of South Africa - hated by all honest Africans for its violent oppression of the Non-White people of that country. The alliance between these reactionaries and those of Rhodesia with the Portuguese fascist government holds a very great danger for the people of Angola and Mozambique. In South Africa there is open discussion, in the press and over the radio, of direct intervention in Angola and Mozambique against our peoples. Clearly, if that aggression takes place, the South African racists will learn from their own experience what the Portuguese already know. They will have many corpses to bury. They will have many families in mourning, as in Portugal. They will have many vehicles destroyed and many planes downed. And in the end they will know the shame of defeat, because in this war victory can belong only to our peoples. That victory will be the victory of our peoples and of the whole world over the disgrace of colonialism. It is this that the arrogant South African racists will learn, despite all their aggressiveness and technical potential.
One of the most appropriate weapons to enable us to repel this danger is precisely the consolidation of our unity, extending it to other peoples who also suffer from the same oppression. But, this unity must be completely free from hostile influences - completely free!
Now, I will address myself especially to many Angolan compatriots, to the comrades of our movement, our beloved MPLA, and to the combatants who, on various fronts, are giving the finest examples of courage, spirit of sacrifice and dedication in this hard war.
This war that is full of incidents - some of which are discouraging but the greater majority of which are full of satisfying encouragement. The progress that has been made by our guerrillas is clear in their putting into practice of the slogan of generalising the war throughout the national territory. When the Portuguese say that the guerrillas have not yet reached the central regions of the country... .it means that the guerrillas are already there. Those who want to mislead the Portuguese people, blinding them to the truth, only fall into ridicule, because the Portuguese population knows that the guerrillas are established in the center of the country, and knows that very soon they will reach the urban centers where, as yet, there are not military-type activities. We can guarantee to the "Honorable" representatives of the colonial administration that they will shortly experience more the center but also the South and the North that will know a period of struggle, of much more difficulty and of much more blood for the miserable colonialists.
It is not difficult to unmask the liars of the colonial government in Angola who are endeavouring to blindfold their settlers and world public opinion. On the one hand, they say that the guerrillas cannot advance, and yet, on the other hand, in the districts where there is armed warfare, all the Angolan inhabitants are forcedly controlled by means of certificates of residence.
These certificates are compulsory as much in Moxico as in Bi, as much in Uige as in Malange; and very shortly there will be decrees and orders making these certificates compulsory in Huila and in Mocamades, in Cuanza Sul and in Huambo. The war will be generalized.
They tell us that their armed forces are in high morale; yet it is publically debated within the colonial regime whether the great merchants should give up only their rings or must sacrifice also their fingers in order to protect their property. There is opposition between the military and the civilians because, while the military risk their precious lives, the masters of theft and exploitation are involved in accumulating property, in luxurious carefree living, and in intoxicating themselves with cheap (or at times expensive) pleasures, in order to forget the misery of the colonial war. The Portuguese soldier is nothing but cannon fodder for the defense of the wealth of the masters of exploitation.
On the one hand,it is said that almost nothing exists in Angola, that there is peace; and yet, on the other hand, they so fear that the Angolan people will support the guerrillas that they compel them to live in encampments close to the barracks. There is no trust between the Portuguese and the Angolan population, and there are hundreds of men who leave these encampments to go to live in the forests where they are already building a free life under the leadership of MPLA.
The desperation of the colonialists will shortly be greater as the technical resources of MPLA become more complete and greater in volume. The organization is continually broadening. The men are more clear in guerrilla tactics and have more political experience. The morale of the Portuguese troops can best be illustrated by the desperate cry of that poor soldier (perhaps the son of a peasant or of a worker) who, during the attack by our forces on Karipande Barracks, abandoned his shelter, weeping and calling for his beloved mother, full of fear or remorse. Shame! Thus it is, almost always, that the courage and conviction of the Portuguese soldier fighting in Angola is expressed.
To all of them, to the cowards and to the fanatics, we say: there is only one way to stop this shameful situation. That way is to recognize the right of our people to independence; to abandon repression and establish just relations between our peoples -- the Angolan people and the Portuguese people.
The Portuguese colonialists and their allies have spread to the four corners of the land the rumour that the war in Cabinda is paralyzed because American dollars have had their effect upon MPLA. We want to make it perfectly clear that, in this war, it is neither MPLA nor the Angolan people who have sold their colonies. It is the miserable Portuguese Government that has mortgaged and sold their colonies and even their own country. It is the Portuguese fascists who are granting more and more facilities to foreign investors, to the disadvantage of the Portguese people (this Portuguese people of glorious traditions) who gain nothing from the transactions.
Who exploits the iron-ore in Angola? The Germans! Who exploits the petroleum? The Americans and the Belgians! And to whom does the Benguela Railway belong? To the English! Who owns the Diamond Company? The Americans, the Belgians, the French and the English! Who exploits the petroleum in the district of Cabinda? The Americans! And in the metropolitan country itself, the Portuguese people know very well, despite the camouflaged forms of exploitation, that there are parts of Portuguese territory that are not under their control, that are mortgaged, parts where the Portuguese do not command, but obey the dollar: it is so in the Azores, in Beja and in a considerable part of the tourist industry...
Who is it, then, who is sold to foreigners in order to be able to continue with their shameful politics? It is only the Portuguese fascists. MPLA, the vanguard of the Angolan people, who fight honorably with arms in hand, has not sold itself. We accept nothing in exchange for our independence! Victory or death! Victory is certain!
If the rhythm of the struggle has slackened recently in Cabinda, this is not due to any kind of compromise made by MPLA. It is due, on the one hand, to the necessity of generalizing the war, on which account we sent to other regions leaders and political and military cadres who, during a certain period, had functioned exclusively in Cabinda. And it is due, on the other hand, to the action of counter-revolutionaries, called the "Revolutionary Government of Angola in Exile". They provided a good agent for the enemy when they sent Alexander Taty, who, making use of tribalistic arguments, has placed himself at the service of the Portuguese.
Conference of Angolan leaders in Mombasa, Kenya.: The three Angolan Liberation leaders (L to r) Dr. Agostinho Neto, Dr. Jonas Savimbi and Holden Roberto shake hands under the eye of Kenya's President Kenyatta at the conclusion of their unity talks stage at State House, Mombasa. Credit: Camerapix
In the same way, if it were not for the counter-revolutionaries in the north of Angola, the Portuguese would now be feeling the effects of guerrilla war not only in Calomboloca and Caxito, but in the streets of Luanda. But now, fortunately, the counter-revolution is in its death's agony. The collaborationists and their colonialist patrons will be smashed together.
There exist today areas inside our country controlled by MPLA. In one of these areas the Headquarters of our movement is established.
At this juncture, I wish to repeat the appeal to all Angolan nationals who are refugees in neighbouring countries - in Congo (Kinshasa), Congo (Brazzaville), Zambia, Botswana and Southwest Africa - to return to the areas controlled by MPLA, there to make their contribution to the struggle, to fight the enemy, to repopulate the territory.
Angolans must return to Angola, to the areas controlled by MPLA and there live a truly free life, within the hardships of struggle.
Students, men trained in Universities or Technical schools must return to the country and there make their contribution to the war. With regard to students it is necessary to seriously counter the opportunistic arguments that some put forward in order to conceal their desire not to participate in the war and work with the people - to escape danger. They want to live a good life on foreign scholarships which they earn through the reputation won by the combatants in our country.
I repeat the appeal to all men and women who find themselves in the interior of our country to redouble their activities, whether underground or in the liberated zones. It is necessary that there be no point in Angola where the Portuguese do not feel the effects of the war.
Groups and committees of action must be constituted where they don't yet exist, and they must be put into well-ordered action, destroying the economy and the resources that the Portuguese possess to pursue war and continue exploitation.
Our contribution has to be given not only for the liquidation of the colonial system but also for the liquidation of ignorance, disease and primitive forms of social organization. It is in the schools in the literacy campaign; it is in the clinics, in the Centers of Revolutionary Instruction, in agricultural and industrial production, as well as in commerce, that each Angolan must make his contribution ... beneath the bombs that periodically fall over the forests.
All sincere Angolan patriots have to return now to the interior of the country. They must be active.
Organizations of the masses, trade unions, organizations of youth, women and others are now undertaking their first activities inside the country. Institutions of medical assistance, education and commercial exchange, and of cooperation in labor are making their appearance in the Liberated Zones.
It is, therefore, now that all Angolans must leave those foreign lands in order to return to their country and there work for the victory of the revolution.
I will not speak of those who necessarily fall during the war. To these we render our sincere and simple homage. The liberation of the fatherland necessitates blood and, first and foremost, the blood of our best sons.
We will not weep over deaths. We will follow the example of their heroism and their valor in order to advance as much as possible and with the greatest rapidity possible. Thus, do we turn their heroism to the service of our people. We must continue the action.
We should know how to profit from all elements at our disposal in order to throw the Portuguese colonialists into the sea.
Comrades: VICTORY IS CERTAIN! Comrades: victory is certain!
Speech delivered to the 3rd Conference of Non-aligned Countries:
Working Together in Defense of Justice.
"The African liberation movements are conscious that they are defending in their countries the common cause of humanity".
Comrades in Struggle,
It is for me a very great pleasure to address the distinguished Heads of State and Government at this Third Conference of Non-Aligned Countries, to fulfill the task entrusted to me by the representatives of the authentic African national liberation movements: the African National Congress of South Africa (ANC), the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU), the South West African People's Organisation of Namibia (SWAPO), the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO), the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), the African Independence Party of Guin6 and Cape Verde (PAIGC), the National Liberation Front of the Somali Coast (FLCS), and the National Liberation Front of the Comores (MOLINACO). This opportunity to state our opinions and describe the conditions in our countries we consider a tribute to the heroic struggle of our peoples for independence, democracy and peace. Further, we deem it a just appreciation of our position in the world today on the part of the non-aligned countries gathered here in Lusaka.
Clearly the major concern of the distinguished delegates assembled here is the problem of decolonization and the liquidation of racial oppression.
We believe that the characteristic of this historical period is the confrontation of irreconcilable forces. On one side are the forces fighting in defense of the peace, independence and freedom of their peoples; on the other side are the forces trying to neutralise this historic process leading to freedom and social progress, i.e. the forces of colonialism, imperialism, and racism.
The problems arising from this confrontation are extremely acute, as much in Africa as in Asia and other continents.
The situation in Southeast Asia, especially in Indochina, where the heroic resistance of the Vietnamese people against US aggression stands out with vigor and beauty, as well as the struggle of the peoples of Cambodia and Laos and also Korea, the struggle of the Palestinian people and all Arab peoples against
Israel's aggression,the struggle of the Latin American peoples against regimes submissive to American imperialism, and also the demands of the Afro-American population, often drowned in blood, are all expressions of this confrontation.
On our continent we are openly resisting colonialism and racism. The armed struggle of the peoples in the Portuguese colonies is constantly advancing. Facing the most anachronistic type of colonialism, the patriotic liberation forces are steadily extending their zones of influence: in Guin6 (Bissau) more than twothirds of the country is under the PAIGC's effective control; in Mozambique the districts of Niassa and Cabo Delgado, more than a fifth of the territory, are under FRELIMO's control; and in Angola the MPLA controls more than a third of the total area.
In Namibia SWAPO is developing sustained action for the reconquest of rights usurped from its people. In Zimbabwe the ANC and ZAPU have joined together their liberation operations. South Africa's racist forces, however, have intervened to counter this co-operation.
And for obvious reasons this very same South Africa is becoming more and more involved in the colonial war in Angola and Mozambique, providing the Lisbon government with economic, technical and military aid.
However,this has not prevented our peoples from building an independent life in the liberated areas of the Portuguese colonies by means of the organisation of defense, production, education and medical care. Moreover, at no time have the peoples of South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia ceased to fight by all possible means for the liquidation of the violent racial and economic oppression of a minority which does not conceal its expansionist aims.
The non-aligned countries are perfectly aware of this situation and they support our struggle. Their statements here have assured us that we are indeed working together in defense of justice.
However, the Portuguese colonialists have not yet been disarmed. The racist minority regimes have not yet been defeated. Our action must therefore be sustained.
Since most countries in the world are on our side, the African liberation movements are conscious that they are defending in their countries the common cause of humanity. Ours is a common fight. And our solidarity - on the Guinea, Angola and Mozambique fronts, in the struggle of the peoples of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, the Somali Coast and the Comore Islands also helps sustain the stability and security of the already independent African countries. I should like then to stress a few factors which might be of help in more effectively advancing this common struggle for the independence of our peoples, their freedom and progress.
Our material needs are well-known. Essentially they relate to funds, military equipment, transport facilities and the necessities for reconstruction in the liberated areas.
There is a scandalous disproportion between the financial means of the enemy we are facing in Southern Africa (Portugal, South Africa and Rhodesia) and those of the liberation movements. Our inferiority in terms of military equipment is flagrant. Despite this, however, effective control of the liberated areas and the steady expansion of combat fronts are clear proof of the determination and firmness with which we are fighting to win or die for our countries, our peoples, our independence and dignity.
For our common cause, for our freedom, we appeal to the countries represented here for concrete aid in arms and funds to meet our most pressing material needs.
The armed struggle we are waging does not allow us to go from conference to conference, from country to country, without precise objectives. War is not compatible with the oratorical slowness of eloquent speeches or with the time bureaucratically intervening between intention and decision, between decision and implementation. War is something immediate. Its needs are immediate and practical. Therefore, immediate action is required. We therefore repeat our appeal for immediate action from the non-aligned countries.
We think it appropriate at this Conference of Non-Aligned Countries to recall the wish expressed by the eminent Heads of State and Government that one should not confine oneself to resolutions. We expect from Your Excellencies concrete solidarity according to the actual possibilities of each country.
We hail the Conference's decision to receive in this hall and hear the delegation of the Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam. The PRG of South Vietnam is the genuine expression of the people of South Vietnam; that its voice should be heard here, in full, is for us all both a requirement and an honor.
We hail the Cambodian Government led by Prince Norodim Sihanouk,which is the true government of the Cambodian people and which adheres to the principles and political positions in defense of which we are assembled here.
As regards the African national liberation movements which are acting consistently for our liberation, which control regions of our territories and which have popular support in each of our countries, they are entitled to the recognition of their legal personalities in the community of nations.
This is the meaning of the recommendations of the Rome Conference in Solidarity with the struggles led by FRELIMO in Mozambique, MPLA in Angola and the PAIGC in Guine (Bissau), recognized by 177 delegations from 64 countries as the true representatives of the peoples they are leading in their armed struggles for independence and national reconstruction.
By receiving leaders of the liberation movements of these three countries to express to them the Catholic Church's support for the peoples still suffering colonial domination and racial oppression, his Holiness Pope Paul VI made the resolution of the Rome Conference more universal.
The recognition of the authentic liberation movements by each of the non-aligned countries as the true and legitimate representatives of their peoples, with all that this implies, notably the authority to be heard on matters concerning their own countries,would, then, be a simple act of justice.
This attitude should then be taken to the United Nations, where, as at this Conference, the illegality of the Portuguese presence in our countries should be declared and the Security Council forced to implement to the letter Articles 41 and 42 of the UN Charter. Since the colonialist and fascist Portuguese regime is persisting in its refusal to comply with the General Assembly's decision, it should be expelled from all UN bodies and specialized agencies. Such measures should also be taken against the racist minority regimes of South Africa and Rhodesia.
We think also that the liberation movements which are leading the struggle in each country should be present in the UN's specialized agencies. The vast areas under the control of the liberation movements should enjoy a status which would permit them bilateral contact and co-operation with independent countries, in the same way as exists for the developing countries of our continent. Indeed, there already exists a new national authority in the countries partially occupied by the Portuguese colonialists.
We would like also to propose to Your Excellencies, in connection with the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the founding of the UN and of the 10th anniversary of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, that a special session of the General Assembly be devoted to the national liberation movements, in order that their legitimate representatives may address the representatives of all the world's peoples. And the UN, which has already recognized our right to independence, should now be able to grant us material aid as well.
We consider that the non-aligned countries assembled in this Conference - because they are concerned with the fate of our peoples - could also take a positive stand against the imperialist powers which are giving massive aid to the colonialist regimes of Portugal, South Africa and Rhodesia, the imperialist forces of the United States of America, Federal Germany, Britain, France, Belgium, Italy, Japan and many other nations.
The non-aligned countries must make these countries recognize that it is thanks to their complicity that colonial domination is being maintained in Southern Africa; they must persuade them to change completely their attitude, already unanimously condemned by world opinion.
We should therefore like to suggest that this Conference support and accept on its own account the decision taken by the OAU to send delegations to countries which are giving their support to the colonialist and racist regimes of Portugal, South Africa and Rhodesia, in order to dissuade them from collaborating in the slaughter of our people.
On behalf of the Africa Liberation Movements, of which I have the honor to be the spokesman at this Conference, I express our heartiest thanks.
[MPLA was founded in December, 1956]
Commemorating the 15th Anniversary of MPLA
Today our Movement is completing 15 years of life, a life of continuous action, of constant growth and victories.
Our People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola,the heroic vanguard of the fighting Angolan people, has been successfully leading the armed struggle for national liberation for more than ten years, winning for the Angolan people not only freedom in a part of our national territory, but also the respect and esteem of other peoples. We have established new and more just relations at the international level, affirming in a today uncontested way our political personality in the world, quite distinct from that of Portugal. We are and always shall be Angolans. Never Portuguese.
The founding of the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola, marked by the publication in Luanda of the Political Manifesto of 10 December 1956, signaled an historic change in our people's attitude towards colonialism, expressing the Angolan people's deepseated desire to struggle for independence. Four years later, on 4 February 1961, the armed struggle of resistance against shameful slavery, for freedom and democracy, was launched.
These are still our objectives: we are struggling for national independence and democracy.
It required several years of clandestine work, using various forms of action, to mobilise the most conscious part of the Angolan nation and to go over to open confrontation with the Portuguese occupiers.
After fifteen years' experience of revolutionary struggle, our Movement prides itself on having built itself up from North to South, embracing all classes and social strata in fraternal unity in the struggle for independence and dignity.
Guerrilla war continues to inflict significant losses on the enemy, both in lives and equipment. Military activity in Cabinda, Cuanza-Norte, Luanda, Moxico, Cuando-Cubango, Lunda and Bi' is increasingly discouraging the colonialist generals, who think of themselves as great strategists - though they are in fact specialists in retreating. But their genocidal acts, cruelty and savagery cannot halt the advance of our Movement's military units in the field.
Since 1961, the enemy, Portuguese colonialism and some of its allies, have never ceased to shout in despair either that the war has ended or that the corpses carried away by helicopter are a consequence of operations by small groups infiltrated in from adjacent countries.
Even now, when cannon shells are destroying their barracks in the East and when they are being forced to withdraw their troops, the Portuguese generals continue just as insolently and shamelessly to try to have it believed that Angola is really at peace. They have even set up "villages of peace", where there reigns only the peace of cemeteries or prisons.
But the soldier, the trader, the farmer, the truckdriver and the administrative official know perfectly well that Angola is at war and that it is a war which will end only with the victory of the Angolan people.
It is not difficult to understand the embarrassing situation in which the Portuguese rulers now find themselves. They are now threatening each other in Lisbon because they do not know how to break with the Salazarist line and make a graceful entry into the democratic era which the Portuguese people are demanding ever more forcibly.
The fascist rulers in Lisbon were not able to solve the colonial problem, but they still believe that by evading it they will succeed in effacing from the hearts of Angolan patriots the indomitable will to be independent.
The Lisbon fascists were not able to solve the problem in 1961 and war started in Angola. They were not able to solve it in 1963 and war broke out in GuinE. They did not want to face facts in 1964 and that year armed struggle began in Mozambique. Since 1928 the Portuguese fascists have failed to understand that the Portuguese people must be freed from PIDE oppression and misery in Portugal itself, and that the Portuguese people's present demand for an end to the colonial era must be met. And today they are confronting the violence of Armed Revolutionary Action.
Today they are having to fight on four fronts for only one reason - colonialism.
Such is the "peace" the colonialists and fascists talk about so much.
In our country the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola has gone from small to large, from weak to strong, and its strength will constantly grow.
The attention and prestige we have throughout the world today is great. This evolution is clear proof of the fact that, determined and firm, the Angolan people are invincible.
Therefore, the Portuguese government cannot ignore the Angolan people's will or the will of the Portuguese people. Both want an end to the colonial war and a solution which will satisfy our aspirations. In Angola we want the end of exploitation and oppression. We want Independence and Democracy.
Our political programme clearly indicates that the MPLA is opening the way to broad and genuine cooperation between men of different races. We are not against the white man simply because he is white. We are against racist and colonialist whites.
For us independence does not mean eliminating the white man from our country. It does not mean the appropriation of honestly acquired property. What it does mean is that political power must be in the hands of our people. Our country's economy must be controlled by our people and made to serve a free and progressive life.
There are now serious contradictions between the settlers in Angola and the colonial administration. These contradictions will sharpen. They will be transformed into open conflict once the interests of the settlers are increasingly subordinated to the government's war policy.
But why this war? What is this war for? To mortgage Angola off to foreign countries? To make the farmer and trader pay more taxes? To oblige the landowner to maintain a military unit of soldiers who are mostly demoralised? To make it impossible for anyone to say what he thinks about the problems of his country without being bothered by the PIDE?
What is this war for? In the name of what is it being waged? Portugal's prestige? For the defence of the West? For economic reasons?
If it is none of these reasons, then what is this war for? Why murder Angolan people, old people, children and women, destroying crops with herbicides and committing the greatest atrocities?
Is it in order to hand Angola over to South Africa or the United States of America?
There is no way out of this situation apart from recognizing our people's right to Independence. Without such recognition, without the Portuguese government handing over power to the genuine representatives of the Angolan people, there will be no peace, no respite for any Portuguese in Angola.
It would be good if the settlers were to understand that it is not in their interests to throw themselves into the arms of South Africa, the United States, France or Federal Germany. In this event, they would be as colonised and exploited as us.
Neto and Eugenia Marie
Their interests can only be protected through the establishment of just relations with the Angolan people, by their recognising that our desire for independence is just and by respecting our right to determine our own affairs. Today everyone is suffering because of the war, because of Lisbon's disastrous policy of repression.
The armed forces of the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola are increasing their capacity from day to day. Conscious of the situation we are now passing through, they will neither retreat nor be
fooled by the fake "peace" the colonialists are offering in the villages.
We will not accept any kind of autonomy as a solution, nor the honorary titles on which some Portuguese rulers appear to be banking at present. No solution can be found for Angola without the concrete participation and agreement of the MPLA.
So long as shells have not yet started to explode in the big towns, so long as commercial firms, banks and vehicles have not started to blow up in the urban centres, so long as the soldier still knows where the rear is, this is the time to safeguard lives and property.
Agostinho Neto, Samora Machel & Julius Nyerere
With dedication and the spirit of self-sacrifice, MPLA militants are ever more effectively fighting the colonialist barbarian who has been exploiting us for centuries.
But we still have a long road to travel and we are prepared to endure a protracted war.
We have entered a new phase of our national liberation struggle.
We effectively control a vast part of our territory, where it is difficult for commandos or special troops to penetrate or operate on the ground. Whenever they try to leave their barracks, the enemy suffer heavy losses.
In the areas under our Movement's control we have organised our people's independent life, establishing simple forms of people's power and organising schools and medical care.
The colonialists' crime of using chemical agents on our crops has not lessened our production efforts.
Support from abroad is an important factor in our struggle. In recent years international support for our people's struggle has become increasingly broadbased. Practising an independent policy, our Movement is not subordinated to the policy of any other country or bloc of countries. Because of this line we are today able to maintain friendly relations with different countries in the world, both socialist and capitalist. One of the principles guiding our relations with other countries and political organisations is that each respect the other's independence and right to follow the road suited to the defence of the interests of their respective peoples.
Hence, maintaining friendly relations with the Soviet Union, China, Yugoslavia, Sweden or Holland does not mean that we mechanically follow the policy or ideology of any one of them, even if their experiences are useful to us. In any case, the campaign mounted by the enemy and their lackeys claiming that the MPLA is a communist organisation, sometimes linking it with the Soviet Union and at other times with China,can only be seen as propaganda intended to fool our people. What is certain is that Portugal is becoming increasingly isolated politically.
The MPLA is a progressive movement, for it is closely linked with the interests of the Angolan people, which it defends with vigor and courage, even demanding of its militants heroic sacrifices in armed combat. At the same time, the MPLA is authentically African in that it is defending the frontiers of freedom in Africa in close cooperation with other African peoples.
Yet the enemy are still in our country and are treacherously hatching intrigues, bribing or attempting to bribe neighbouring countries and manoeuvring politically to stay in Angola. For this reason, our fight must be continuous and increasingly vigorous.
All Angolans united, we must fight Portuguese colonialism. We must deal it blows from all sides, and carry out ever more action. There can be no freedom without independence and no independence without struggle.
The proposals on autonomy are of no use to us. Modifications in the administrative structure and new methods of production and distribution of material goods are merely palliatives which solve nothing.
The promotion of Angolans to higher posts in the colonial administration, increased salaries and the introduction of higher education are merely consequences of the war. The enemy are trying to give the impression that they are introducing measures for the progress of our people. But these measures have been taken only because the enemy can feel the tips of our bayonets at their throats. That is all.
The rural reorganisation campaigns are intended merely to officer and control the Angolan people to prevent them from contacting the guerrillas.
Indeed, most of the colonialists' actions are governed by fear. Everything is done for propaganda purposes and to demobilise the people. For example, they open schools and universities, but they immediately persecute, arrest, deport and murder Angolan students who dare to enroll in these schools.
All this is comprehensible if we consider that since 1482 Portugal has never been interested in the progress of the Angolan people. What did interest it was stealing land and using our resources for itself. It was greed for material wealth that gave rise to colonialism.
How can a country like Portugal (where in a single night, according to the daily "0 SECULO", they had to arrest more than 200 vagrants and prostitutes in Lisbon's Barrio Alto neighbourhood) be interested in the progress of the Angolan people?
How can a government which keeps its people in misery, in degrading subjugation, and which denies its citizens the right to choose the kind of government they want, be concerned about the progress of the Angolan people?
We must free ourselves from colonialism. All Angolans must unite around the MPLA. There are no hatreds between us which can make us forget the enemy. All those who feel the patriotic desire to liberate our country can join the MPLA, which will give them weapons and make fighters of them.
A few compatriots are allowing themselves to go along with reactionary and counter-revolutionary currents, which, subordinated to imperialism but under the cover of more or less progressive watchwords, are merely delaying our victory.
The MPLA is prepared to accept in its ranks all those who admit the mistakes they have made. They will be well received.
The 15 years of our Movement's activity have taught us to adopt a policy of clemency, even towards captured soldiers or those who come of their own free will to ask for the MPLA's protection. The MPLA will give those who leave the unjust war the necessary facilities to establish new conditions of life.
The people in the Angolan district of Cabinda have already realised the mistake they were about to make by accepting the Portuguese government's wily proposals. Alexandre Taty, Nzita Tiago and other traitors who still held illusions ruined themselves through their opportunism.
Now that they fully understand Portugal's objectives, all the people in Cabinda district must rise up to a man and organise themselves within the MPLA, arms in hand, to fight against the abuses, the corruption and the exploitation of the colonialists.
The MPLA has sufficient weapons to arm every man, it has an ideology and a policy for the liberation of the country. It really is our people's only leading force.
Let us strengthen our activity on every front. Let us organise new groups of the Movement and go into action, even without succeeding in making contact with the leadership of the MPLA.
Many MPLA groups paralyse their action for lack of contact with the leadership. They are eternally waiting for directives.
But it is easy to arrive at directives by analysing the concrete conditions on the spot. Political mobilisation, either through personal contact or through leaflets, contributions in money and kind for the guerrilla war and other higher forms of action are permanent directives which must be put into practice.
Everywhere action is needed. In the offices and in the factories, in the barracks and in the neighbourhoods, in the mines, in the villages and towns.
The road to our independence is being travelled over the blood of the most beloved sons of our people. The dedication and heroism of our militants is a decisive factor for the outcome of this struggle. And despite the machinations of the enemy, our people will triumph.
On this historic date when we are celebrating the 15th anniversary of the founding of our Movement, we are happy to affirm that there are no cannon, helicopters or defoliants capable of shaking our people's will. Colonialism will be defeated. An era of cooperation between all will be achieved.
OUR VICTORY IS CERTAIN!
Agostinho Neto forged not only a consciousness, but the instrument of the struggle…Fidel
Posted on September 17, 2013
91st anniversary of the birth of Agostinho Neto
António Agostinho Neto was born on September 17, 1922. He served as the first President of Angola (1975–1979), after having led the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) in the war for independence (1961 – 1974). Until his death, he lead the MPLA in the civil war(1975-2002). His birthday is celebrated as National Heroes Day, a public holiday in Angola.
Source: Granma International
Fidel y Neto (2)On September 10, 1979, 30 years ago, the noble heart of Antonio Agostinho Neto ceased beating. We received the news from a tearful Kundy Paihama, who was leading the Angolan delegation to the 6th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement, which had concluded in Havana the previous day. Fidel, Raúl, Almeida, and President Samora Machel of Mozambique who, at that moment, was talking with us about the historic event, were filled with profound dismay.
Dedicated to the liberation of his country from colonial oppression
Seven days later, on September 17, Neto would have turned 57 years old. His was a life of passion, heroism, and intelligence dedicated to the liberation of his country from colonial oppression and the building of a just society for all Angolans, which would also be a bulwark of solidarity for the sister nations who were victims of the shameful apartheid regime — Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa.
Antonio Agostinho Neto was an independence fighter, a poet, doctor, guerrilla and statesman, in that order.
For a young man in a colonialized African country, where the overwhelming majority of the people were illiterate, it was difficult to have access to secondary education. Neto, the son of a Protestant pastor father and a teacher mother, was able to finish secondary school and went to work in Luanda as a health services assistant. His dream was to be a doctor.
During those years, he began to stand out as a figure in the cultural movement that grew swiftly in the 1940s under the motto of “Let’s learn about Angola.”
A dream of independence for Angola
For several years he saved up his money, and at the age of 25, in 1947, left for Portugal and enrolled in the Faculty of Medicine of the ancient University of Coimbra.
A scholarship from the U.S. Methodist Church for the pastor’s son helped Neto, after his second year of living in Portugal, to survive in the metropolis and maintain his dream of becoming a doctor.
But other, even stronger dreams illuminated Agostinho’s life: the independence of his homeland and saving the world from another world war.
After becoming involved in political activity, he was imprisoned for the first time, for three months, after being arrested in 1952 collecting signatures supporting the Stockholm Appeal for World Peace.To advocate world peace was a crime under the Portuguese fascist colonial regime, with its close ties to the United States and Britain, which were on a new crusade against the USSR and the popular democracies of Europe and Asia.
Amilcar Cabral, Lucio Lara and Marcelino dos Santos
That first time in prison did not defeat Neto. He helped create institutions to bring together people living in Portugal who were from its colonies: the African Maritime Club, the Portuguese House of Africa, the Center for African Studies. It was during that time that he became friends with Amílcar Cabral, an agronomy student, as well as Lucio Lara, Marcelino dos Santos and Mario Andrade.
Neto’s ideas went beyond the independence movement: he joined the Portuguese Communist Party.
Statue of Agostinho Neto in Huambo, Angola
Solidarity with Latin America
The 4th World Festival of Youth and Students for Peace and Friendship took place in Bucharest, Romania, from late July to early August of 1953, and there I had the privilege of being the first Cuban to meet Agostinho Neto. I was 23 years old and he was 30.
An outstanding medical student, he had traveled secretly to Romania to represent the Portuguese colonies as part of the Portuguese delegation. But instead of staying with the European delegates, he preferred to be with the Latin Americans, specifically the Brazilians, and somebody had told him that I could facilitate his transfer from one area to the other.
Neto was the first Angolan I had come across in my life. All I knew about his country was its name, and that it was a Portuguese colony in Africa. He knew more about Cuba. He remembered the poetry of Nicolás Guillén, whom I admired as the highest voice of black poetry in the world.
The Liberation Front of Mozambique, FRELIMO
Marcelino dos Santos, who with Modlane and Samora Machel founded the Liberation Front of Mozambique — FRELIMO — was also part of the delegation of democratic youth from Portugal and its colonies.
Neto talked to me about the Angolan people’s desires for liberation. I talked to him about our struggles, about the assault on the Moncada Garrison, which had taken place a few days earlier, at a point when we still didn’t know the fate of the leader of that heroic action, Fidel Castro, or of his brother Raúl, who was one of the signatories to the call for the World Festival in which we were taking part. We asked all of the national delegations to join in the campaign initiated by the World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY): “Save the lives of Fidel Castro and his comrades!”
I ran into Neto again in Vienna in December 1954. I had left Guatemala after many months in that Central American nation. After the imperialist coup against the democratic government of President Jacobo Arbenz, and having fought in the underground against Castillo Armas, the vicious leader imposed by the United States, I managed to leave the country in September and rejoined the WFDY in Europe.
Political prisoner of the year
The WFDY was preparing an International Conference of Rural Youth. Agostinho Neto attended that event in late 1954.
A few weeks later, on February 9, 1955, Neto was arrested by the fearsome PIDE, the Portuguese political police. It was a cruel incarceration of more than two years. Neto had already published his first collection of poetry.
Internationally-known intellectuals spoke out for the freedom of the anti-colonialist and anti-fascist fighter: Jean Paul Sartre, André Mauriac, Aragón, Simone de Beauvoir, Nicolás Guillén, Diego Rivera, and others.
In 1957, Amnesty International declared him “political prisoner of the year.”
A doctor among the poor and leader of MPLA
The regime felt obliged to mount a legal farce. The court that tried him sentenced him to 18 months in prison, even though he already had been behind bars for 28 months and three days.
In October 1958, at the University of Lisbon, he finished his medical studies and married María Eugenia, his companion until death and mother of his three children.
After working as a gynecologist in a Lisbon hospital for a short time, he returned to Angola in 1959, where he worked as a doctor among the poor, particularly women, and at the same time assumed the leadership of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), founded in Luanda in 1956.
Jailed for a third time
In June 1960, he was jailed for the third time. The local PIDE (secret police) chief personally arrested him in his Luanda medical office. Sent to prison in Lisbon, he was later confined to the island of Sao Antón, and then Santiago Island, both part of the Cape Verde archipelago. He continued practicing medicine among the people of Cape Verde and his comrades, patriots from various Portuguese colonies who were exiled there.
Once again, a campaign was built to free Agostinho Neto, honorary president of the MPLA, and the Portuguese authorities were forced to release him in 1962, ordering him to live in Portugal.
The MPLA and the Portuguese anti-fascists devised an escape plan. Neto left Portugal with his wife and small children, and after a hazardous journey, arrived in the capital of Congo Leopoldville (present-day Kinshasa), where the MPLA then had its headquarters outside of Angola.
In December of that year, Neto was elected MPLA president at the organization’s national conference.
Neto receives Che and requests Cuban assistance
In 1963, the MPLA headquarters was transferred from Kinshasa, where the government had become a yanki-Belgian instrument, to Brazzaville, capital of the former French Congo, where a progressive government was in power, presided over by Massemba Debat.
In late August 1965, eleven years after we saw each other in Vienna, I met up with Agostinho Neto again, this time in Africa, in the Congo.
Earlier that year, in January, at the MPLA headquarters in Brazzaville, Neto had received Comandante Ernesto Che Guevara, who was on a tour of Africa. One hundred days later, Che returned to Africa, this time as commander of Column One, to join up with Lumumba’s forces in the eastern region of the former Belgian Congo.
Neto’s request to Che for six Cuban instructors to train and fight with the MPLA guerrilla forces on the Cabinda Front was met in May, when Captain Rafael Moracén and five other compañeros traveled from Havana and joined the Angolan combatants.
Six Cuban instructors
I arrived in Brazzaville and immediately went to see him at the MPLA headquarters. I was no longer talking as an organizer of festivals and international congresses, but as chief of Cuba’s internationalist mission, the Patricio Lumumba Battalion, Che’s Second Front in the Congo Basin, and it was with an illustrious interlocutor, the president of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola.
The main point on my agenda was Cabinda, where the six Cuban instructors were carrying out their work. We exchanged opinions on the subject, but I soon realized that his central concern was not focused on Cabinda.
“Nambuangongo,” he said, pausing and then, more forcefully, repeated the word, which has the sonority of an African drum. On a large map of Angola covering one square meter of the wall, he showed me the Dembos mountain range. Nambuangongo, relatively close to Luanda. He was deeply distressed over the fate of combatants in that first political/military region, who were facing many thousands of colonial soldiers.
Portugal’s use of defoliant
Portugal had bombarded the area with defoliant, the same chemical the yankis later used in Vietnam.
Neto was obsessed with sending reinforcements to the First Front. Later, he talked to me about the possibility of opening a Third Front in eastern Angola, for which collaboration was being negotiated with newly-independent Zambia. I understood his strategic idea, and that the Cabinda Front was principally a polygon with a real enemy for training cadres via the guerrilla life and small-scale combat.
The idea of training and sending columns to the First Region became stronger after Operation Macaco in Cabinda, implemented in late December by joint Angolan/Cuban forces that did not achieve their specific goal of attacking a Portuguese garrison, but which turned out to be a grand rehearsal by a unit of more than 100 men operating as such.
Fidel and Neto
The conversation in Havana between Fidel and Neto, accompanied by Hoyi Ya Henda, during the Tricontinental Conference in January 1966 revolved precisely around our collaboration in these strategic ideas.
In mid-July, a column of 100 combatants was ready to reinforce the First Region. It was Neto ‘s decision that that elite unit, called upon to execute such a difficult mission, should bear the name of our hero Camilo Cienfuegos.
The column honored his glorious name. It secretly entered Congo Leopoldville. It formed as an armed column on that country’s border with Angola, and after a 35-day march, evading the enemy, reached the First Region. It was the first time I remember seeing Neto laugh. His smile, with his large teeth, lit up his face months later when he received the news of the Cienfuegos squad and its successful march.
Two new columns, the Kamy and the Ferraz Bomboko, took off for the same destination, the interior of Angola, although with different fates. We are not going to tell the whole story, but both contributed to taking forward the struggle in Angola’s interior, in the north and in the east. Two and a half years after our first meeting in Brazzaville, Neo’s strategic ideas were becoming a reality.
Neto’s victorious smile
For years, I preserved the memory of seeing Neto with that victorious smile. We would meet again in Luanda, nine years later, in early December of 1975.
I had the privilege of collaborating closely in Angola with President Neto for three and a half years. The more I dealt with him, the more I admired his position of principles, his revolutionary ideas, and his unshakeable identification with the cause of justice, freedom and socialism. On May 1, 1979, I returned from my long residence in Angola as representative of the leadership of our Party and chief of our civilian mission.
Four and a half months later, we suffered his loss.
Neto, an extraordinary man …Fidel
His poetry speaks of the need to battle, to dream, to fight for independence, and the need to fight for a new Angola, to re-conquer the Angolan identity despite the presence of the colonizers.
Allow me to offer this vivid biographical portrait of Agostinho Neto, in remarks made in his presence by Fidel, during the 26th of July rally of 1976 in the city of Pinar del Río:
“And we have here a man who also devoted his whole life to the effort of liberating his homeland, who was forced to confront enormous difficulties. In order to make the two situations more similar, Neto is also a man of extraordinary culture, of great intellectual capacity and an extraordinary poet, who devoted his life and his pen to his people, to his brothers and sisters, discriminated against and enslaved, to forging the political consciousness of the Angolans.
“And like Martí, he wrote many of his best works and his best poems in the suffering of imprisonment, of exile and of the enslavement of his brothers and sisters. Martí and Neto have been forgers of the homeland.
“Not only did he forge a consciousness, he also forged, like Martí, the instrument of the struggle and charted a line, a road — the only road in Angola, like yesterday in Cuba — for achieving independence, which was the heroic struggle of the people, the armed struggle of the people. And for many years, he has led that struggle. Neto is also one of the most modest, noble and honest men I have ever known.”
I would like to end my evocation of the beloved figure of Agostinho Neto by reaffirming what General of the Army Raúl Castro stated in Luanda, in February of this year, at the start of official talks with President José Eduardo dos Santos of the Republic of Angola:
“The historic fraternity between Cuba and Angola is indestructible. It was forged in our common struggle against colonialism and apartheid, under the guidance of two exceptional men: Agostinho Neto and Fidel Castro.”
25 September 2009
Translated by Granma International