Libmonster ID: UK-1282
Author(s) of the publication: V. G. SHUBIN

Angola Keywords:MPLASocintern

V. G. SHUBIN

Doctor of Historical Sciences

In December 2011, the First International Colloquium on MPLA history, "55 Years in the Service of Angola and Angolans", was held in Luanda, the capital of Angola. It was both scientific and socio-political in nature. On the one hand, more than two dozen reports were made by both historians and direct participants of the events, and on the other hand, at least several hundred activists of this ruling party in Angola, mostly young people, were present in the hall. On behalf of the President of the MPLA (and the Republic of Angola) Jose Eduardo dos Santos the colloquium was led by the general secretary of this party, Juliao Mteus Paulo (widely known since the anti-colonial struggle under his" fighting " name - Dino Matross). The conference was attended, along with Angolans, by guests from African countries, mainly neighboring ones, as well as a representative of the Portuguese Communist Party, a journalist from Italy who made a campaign in the liberated areas of Angola more than 40 years ago, a historian from Brazil, a group of Cuban veterans and the author of these lines.1

Perhaps the most colorful figure among the foreign guests was Ghanaian Kojo Chikata, known in the 1960s among MPLA fighters as "Domingos da Silva", when he participated in the guerrilla struggle in Cabinda. Upon his return to his homeland, Chikata was arrested and sentenced to death, and the intervention of A. Neto helped save his life. But then, during the reign of J. R. R. Tolkien, Rawlings (1981-2001), was actually the second person in the government of Ghana, and is still an adviser to the President. The main guest of the conference was Joaquim Chissano, who served for many years as President of Mozambique, who earned respect in the world, in particular, because, unlike others (and not only in Africa), he did not cling to power. His report - "MPLA and FRELIMO and the liberation of Southern Africa"-showed how cooperation between national liberation movements in this region was born and how it was implemented in practice. He also spoke about the hope of "winning freedom and building a more just world, which was generated by the 'Russian revolution that led to the creation of the USSR', the revolution in Cuba and the formation of the PRC. " 2

A distinctive feature of the approach of the MPLA leaders and other Angolan participants of the colloquium was the desire to show the history of this party "without notes", without suppressing the names of its founders who, for one reason or another, withdrew from active activity. Its entire 55-year history (and, accordingly, the work of the colloquium) was divided by them into three stages:" MPLA in the period of struggle for national liberation"," MPLA - Party of Labor in the period of popular democracy, consolidation of independence and preservation of the sovereignty of the Angolan State "and"MPLA in the period of multi-party democracy".

I would especially like to note in this regard that Angolans do not ignore the "zigzags" in the political line of the ruling party. This is how they compare favorably with some others. I can't help but recall, for example, how one prominent African, while giving a talk on the history of his party at a recent conference at the Institute of Africa of the Russian Academy of Sciences, completely bypassed the period when its leaders (including himself) spoke of "adherence to Marxism-Leninism."

Angolans try to explain the reasons for this or that turn in their policy. For example, one of the main speakers on the first topic was Lopo da Nascimento, who headed the country's government immediately after independence. He stressed that in those circumstances, the main thing was to ensure the country's independence. He also spoke about the mistakes of that period, about "unnecessary radicalization, about administrative methods of managing the economy, etc." The speakers were critical of the reorganization of the broad movement - the MPLA - into a narrower organization - the MPLA-the Party of Labor. In particular, the demands placed on members of this party alienated believers from it, and it lost the support of the "middle strata" of the population.

The main report on the third agenda item was delivered by Prof. Victor Kazhibanga, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University. Agostinho Neto, who defended his dissertation at Moscow State University. He reviewed in detail the steps taken by the MPLA leadership to establish peace in the country, and the decisions of the MPLA congress held in December 1990, which allowed for the creation of a "political space" for multi-party democracy. In particular, it was decided to review the "MPLA-PT theoretical framework" based on the principles of "social democracy and democratic socialism" .3

In this regard, it is worth recalling that the ruling party in Angola is a member of the Socialist International, and its general secretary is the vice-president of this organization.4 Among the participants of the colloquium, a magazine published by the MPLA with an editorial "Democratic Socialism. Ideology of the MPLA", written by its Vice-President Roberto de Almeida 5.

One of the conference topics was "The Battle of Cuito Cuanaval" - the events of late 1987-early 1988, when the failures of the South-

page 60

However, the withdrawal of African troops led to a change in the strategic situation and largely paved the way for ending South Africa's occupation of Namibia and achieving independence of this country. These events are still the subject of disputes between the parties involved in them, and they were also ambiguously evaluated by the conference participants.

An Angolan veteran of these battles, Armando Mateusz, in his speech, spoke in detail about the initially successful actions of the Angolan army in the attack on the UNITA stronghold in the south-east of the country, about the intervention of South African aviation and the counteroffensive of the South African ground forces, about the heroic defense of Cuito-Cunavale, but did not even mention the participation of Cubans in the battles. On the other hand, Jorge Risket, who at that time was the "chief" of the Cuban leadership on Angolan affairs, focused on the importance of this participation.

At the same time, although in general the importance of cooperation between Angola and the USSR was properly assessed at the colloquium, the topic of the presence of Soviet military personnel in the Angolan brigades and other units near Cuito Cuanavale was not touched upon in either speech.

This fact once again confirms the importance of collecting and publishing the memoirs of our advisers, specialists and translators, which is carried out at the Center for Southern African Studies at the Institute of Africa of the Russian Academy of Sciences, as well as the activities of the Russian Union of Angolan Veterans. Along with the Russian-language editions, such memoirs were published in English in South Africa last year6, and it is certainly vital that they be published in Portuguese as well, so that they can be made available to Angolan readers.


1 I presented the report "MPLA and the liberation struggle in Southern Africa".

2 Coloquio internacional sobre a historia do MPLA. Joaquim Alberto Chissano. O Papel do MPLA e da FRELIMO na libertação da Africa Austral, p. 6.

3 Coloquio internacional sobre a historia do MPLA. Victor Kajibanga. O MPLA no periodo da democracia multipartidaria e da consolidação da paz, p. 2.

4 By the way, another vice-president of the Social International is the leader of the ANC, South African President Jacob Zuma, and this fact also shows the importance of studying XI's activities on the African continent.

5 Revista Estudos & Opinios. Luanda. 2011, N 7, p. 6 - 13.

6 Bush War - The Road to Cuito Cuanavale. Johannesburg, Jacana Media, 2011.


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V. G. SHUBIN, LUANDA INTERNATIONAL COLLOQUIUM // London: British Digital Library (ELIBRARY.ORG.UK). Updated: 16.09.2023. URL: https://elibrary.org.uk/m/articles/view/LUANDA-INTERNATIONAL-COLLOQUIUM (date of access: 19.04.2024).

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