Agostinho Neto

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Agostinho Neto
President MPLA, heer Neto door Den Uyl ontvangen premier Den Uyl en A Neto (r), Bestanddeelnr 927-8518 (cropped).jpg
1st President of Angola
In office
11 November 1975 10 September 1979
Prime Minister Lopo do Nascimento (1975-1978)
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded by Lúcio Lara (Acting)
Chairman of the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola
In office
10 December 1956 10 September 1979
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded by Lúcio Lara (Acting)
Personal details
António Agostinho Neto

(1922-09-17)17 September 1922
Ícolo e Bengo, Portuguese Angola
Died10 September 1979(1979-09-10) (aged 56)
Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Political party MPLA
Spouse(s)Maria Eugénia da Silva (1957–1979; his death) [1]
Mihaela Marinova
Alma mater University of Lisbon

António Agostinho Neto (17 September 1922 – 10 September 1979) served as the 1st President of Angola (1975–1979), having led the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) in the war for independence (1961–1974). Until his death, he led the MPLA in the civil war (1975–2002). Known also for his literary activities, he is considered Angola's preeminent poet. His birthday is celebrated as National Heroes' Day, a public holiday in Angola.

President of Angola head of state and head of government of Angola

The President of the Republic of Angola is both head of state and head of government in Angola. According to the constitution adopted in 2010, the post of Prime Minister is abolished; executive authority belongs to the President who has also a degree of legislative powers, as he can govern by decree.

Angolan War of Independence conflict in Angola between 1961 and 1975

The Angolan War of Independence (1961–1974) began as an uprising against forced cotton cultivation, and it became a multi-faction struggle for the control of Portugal's overseas province of Angola among three nationalist movements and a separatist movement. The war ended when a leftist military coup in Lisbon in April 1974 overthrew Portugal's Estado Novo regime, and the new regime immediately stopped all military action in the African colonies, declaring its intention to grant them independence without delay.

Angolan Civil War armed conflict in Angola between 1975 and 2002

The Angolan Civil War was a civil conflict in Angola, beginning in 1975 and continuing, with interludes, until 2002. The war began immediately after Angola became independent from Portugal in November 1975. The war was a power struggle between two former liberation movements, the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). The war was used as a surrogate battleground for the Cold War by rival states such as the Soviet Union, Cuba, South Africa and the United States.


Early life

Born at Ícolo e Bengo, in Bengo Province, Angola, in 1922, Neto attended high school in the capital city, Luanda; his parents were both school teachers and Methodists; his father, also called Agostinho Neto, was a Methodist pastor. After secondary school he worked in the colonial health services before going on to university. The younger Neto left Angola for Portugal, and studied medicine at the universities 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 three months for his separatist activism. He was arrested again in 1952 for joining the Portuguese Movement for Democratic Youth Unity. He was arrested again in 1955 and held until 1957. He finished his studies, marrying a white 23-year-old Portuguese woman who was born in Trás-os-Montes, Maria Eugénia da Silva, the same day he graduated. He returned to Angola in 1959, was arrested again in 1960, and escaped to assume leadership of the armed struggle against colonial rule. When Angola gained independence in 1975 he became President and held the position until his death in 1979. [1] [2]

Ícolo e Bengo Municipality in Luanda, Angola

Ícolo e Bengo is a city council in the province of Luanda in Angola.

Luanda City in Angola

Luanda, formerly named São Paulo da Assunção de Loanda, is the capital and largest city in Angola, and the country's most populous and important city, primary port and major industrial, cultural and urban centre. Located on Angola's coast with the Atlantic Ocean, Luanda is both Angola's chief seaport and its administrative centre. It is also the capital city of Luanda Province and the most populous Portuguese-speaking capital city in the world.

Portugal Republic in Southwestern Europe

Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic, is a country located mostly on the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe. It is the westernmost sovereign state of mainland Europe. It is bordered to the west and south by the Atlantic Ocean and to the north and east by Spain. Its territory also includes the Atlantic archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira, both autonomous regions with their own regional governments.

Political career

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. [2] [3]

Angolan Communist Party was an underground political party in Portuguese Angola, founded in October 1955, under influence from the Portuguese Communist Party. PCA was led by the brothers Mário Pinto de Andrade and Joaquim Pinto de Andrade. PCA set up clandestine schools and libraries in Luanda, and established branches in Catete and Malanje.

Party of the United Struggle for Africans in Angola is the first political party in Angola to advocate Angolan independence from Portugal, campaigning from its founding in 1953 until it merged with the Angolan Communist Party (PCA) to form the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) in December 1956.

Viriato Clemente da Cruz was an Angolan poet and politician, who was born in Kikuvo, Porto Amboim, Portuguese Angola, and died in Beijing, People's Republic of China. He is considered one of the most important Angolan poets of his time. He wrote poems in Portuguese and Angolan languages. He took part in the fight to free Angola from Portuguese rule.

The Portuguese authorities in Angola arrested Neto on 8 June 1960. 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. [3] At first Portugal's government exiled Neto to Cape Verde. Then, once more, he was sent to jail in Lisbon. After international protests were made to 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 Congo-Léopoldville. [1]

Cape Verde Country comprising ten islands off the Northwest coast of Africa

Cape Verde or Cabo Verde, officially the Republic of Cabo Verde, is an island country spanning an archipelago of 10 volcanic islands in the central Atlantic Ocean. It forms part of the Macaronesia ecoregion, along with the Azores, Canary Islands, Madeira, and the Savage Isles. In ancient times these islands were referred to as "the Islands of the Blessed" or the "Fortunate Isles". Located 570 kilometres (350 mi) west of the Cape Verde Peninsula off the coast of Northwest Africa, the islands cover a combined area of slightly over 4,000 square kilometres (1,500 sq mi).

In justice and law, house arrest is a measure by which a person is confined by the authorities to their residence. Only those with a house are allowed to be sentenced to arrest in their residence. Travel is usually restricted, if allowed at all. House arrest is an alternative to being in a prison while pre-trial or sentenced.

Morocco country in North Africa

Morocco, officially the Kingdom of Morocco, is a country located in the Maghreb region of North West Africa with an area of 710,850 km2 (274,460 sq mi). Its capital is Rabat, the largest city Casablanca. It overlooks the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Morocco claims the areas of Ceuta, Melilla and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera, all of them under Spanish jurisdiction.

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). [4]

Washington, D.C. Capital of the United States

Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington or D.C., is the capital of the United States. Founded after the American Revolution as the seat of government of the newly independent country, Washington was named after George Washington, first President of the United States and Founding Father. As the seat of the United States federal government and several international organizations, Washington is an important world political capital. The city is also one of the most visited cities in the world, with more than 20 million tourists annually.

John F. Kennedy 35th president of the United States

John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy, commonly referred to by his initials JFK, was an American politician and journalist who served as the 35th president of the United States from January 1961 until his assassination in November 1963. He served at the height of the Cold War, and the majority of his presidency dealt with managing relations with the Soviet Union. A member of the Democratic Party, Kennedy represented Massachusetts in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate prior to becoming president.

Holden Roberto Angolan politician

Holden Álvaro Roberto founded and led the National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA) from 1962 to 1999. His memoirs are unfinished.

Neto met Che Guevara in 1965 and began receiving support from Cuba. [5] He visited Havana many times, and he and Fidel Castro shared similar ideological views. [6]

Che Guevara Argentine Marxist revolutionary

Ernesto "Che" Guevara was an Argentine Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, guerrilla leader, diplomat and military theorist. A major figure of the Cuban Revolution, his stylized visage has become a ubiquitous countercultural symbol of rebellion and global insignia in popular culture.

Cuba Country in the Caribbean

Cuba, officially the Republic of Cuba, is a country comprising the island of Cuba as well as Isla de la Juventud and several minor archipelagos. Cuba is located in the northern Caribbean where the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean meet. It is east of the Yucatán Peninsula (Mexico), south of both the U.S. state of Florida and the Bahamas, west of Haiti and north of both Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. Havana is the largest city and capital; other major cities include Santiago de Cuba and Camagüey. The area of the Republic of Cuba is 110,860 square kilometres (42,800 sq mi). The island of Cuba is the largest island in Cuba and in the Caribbean, with an area of 105,006 square kilometres (40,543 sq mi), and the second-most populous after Hispaniola, with over 11 million inhabitants.

Fidel Castro Former First Secretary of the Communist Party and President of Cuba

Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz was a Cuban communist revolutionary and politician who governed the Republic of Cuba as Prime Minister from 1959 to 1976 and then as President from 1976 to 2008. A Marxist–Leninist and Cuban nationalist, Castro also served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from 1961 until 2011. Under his administration, Cuba became a one-party communist state, while industry and business were nationalized and state socialist reforms were implemented throughout society.

On February the 26st 1974 his last child Mihaela Marinova was born in Bulgaria. A DNA test was performed in the UK in 2013 for only to conclude 95% ,that she is in fact the daughter of the late President via First cousins DNA , which is used for Family Reconstruction and use.

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 11 November 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 anti-colonial 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.[ citation needed ] 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 of 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.[ citation needed ]

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.

Literary career

Agostinho Neto's poetic works were written chiefly between 1946 and 1960, largely in Portugal. He published three books of poetry during his lifetime. Several of his poems became national anthems. [7]

The Neto mausoleum and memorial in Luanda Memorial Antonio Agostinho Neto (19882325368).jpg
The Neto mausoleum and memorial in Luanda


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 entitled Agostinho Neto was written in his honor. [8] 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. [9]

In 1973, during one of his few unofficial visits to Bulgaria, Neto met a woman with whom he had a daughter, Mihaela Radkova Marinova, who was raised in orphanages in Bulgaria. Neto's family has not recognised the child. [10]


Agostinho Neto died September 10, 1979 in Moscow, Russia after surgery for cancer and hepatitis. Neto was 56 years old at the time of death. Neto had a long battle with cancer of the pancreas, as well as chronic hepatitis that ultimately took his life. Neto had been to the Soviet Union multiple times for treatment because of the high level of medical professionals there. Few people knew about the African Nationalist's failing health, because he and his colleagues thought it was better to hide this information, as to not show weakness. [11]

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  1. 1 2 3 James, W. Martin (2004). Historical Dictionary of Angola. p. 110.
  2. 1 2 Tvedten, Inge (1997). Angola: Struggle for Peace and Reconstruction. pp. 29–30.
  3. 1 2 Africa Year Book and Who's who. 1977. pp. 238–239.
  4. Walker, John Frederick (2004). A Certain Curve of Horn: The Hundred-Year Quest for the Giant Sable Antelope of Angola. pp. 146–148.
  5. Abbott, Peter; Manuel Ribeiro Rodrigues (1988). Modern African Wars: Angola and Mocambique, 1961-74. p. 10.
  6. Chazan, Naomi; Robert Mortimer; John Ravenhill; Donald Rothchild (1992). Politics and Society in Contemporary Africa. Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Rienner Publishers Inc. p. 392. ISBN   1-55587-283-2.
  7. Abdala, Benjamin, Jr. "Agostinho Neto." In African Lusophone Writers. Detroit: Gale, 2012, p. 120-125. (Dictionary of Literary Biography, vol. 367).
  8. Achebe, Chinua. "Agostinho Neto" . Retrieved 14 May 2008.
  9. "Google Maps". Google Maps. Retrieved 2017-07-11.
  10. Público (Maia, Portugal), 29 October 2010. "36 anos de uma história agitada: Mihaela Marinova é filha de Agostinho Neto". Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  11. Thomas Johnson, Agostinho Neto, 56, Angola's Leader, Diesin’ Moscow After Surgery. The New York Times, September 12,1979.

Political offices
Preceded by
Position created
President of Angola
Succeeded by
Lúcio Lara (Acting)