Holden Roberto

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Holden Roberto
Holden Roberto.jpg
Holden Roberto in 1973
President of the FNLA
In office
1954 2007
Until 1961 as the Union of Peoples of Angola
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded by Ngola Kabangu
President of the Democratic People's Republic of Angola
In office
11 November 1975 11 February 1976
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Position abolished
Personal details
Born12 January 1923
São Salvador, Portuguese Angola
(now M'banza-Kongo, Angola)
Died2 August 2007 (aged 84)
ChildrenCarlito Roberto, Julietta Roberto, Catarina Roberto, Gracia Roberto

Holden Álvaro Roberto (January 12, 1923 August 2, 2007) was an Angolan revolutionary politician and freedom fighter who founded and led the National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA) from 1962 to 1999. His memoirs are unfinished. [1]

Contents

Early life

Roberto, son of Garcia Diasiwa Roberto and Joana Lala Nekaka, and a descendant of the Royal Family of the Kongo Kingdom, [2] was born in São Salvador in the far north of Angola. His family moved to Léopoldville, in the Belgian Congo, in 1925. In 1940 he graduated from a Baptist mission school. He worked for the Belgian Finance Ministry in Léopoldville, Costermansville, and Stanleyville for eight years. In 1949, Roberto moved back to Léopoldville, where he joined his uncle in playing for the local "Nomads" football side. [3] Roberto would then go on to play for Daring Club Motema Pembe, alongside the later Congolese Prime Minister, Cyrille Adoula. [3] In 1951 he visited Angola and witnessed Portuguese officials abusing an old man, inspiring him to begin his political career. [1] [4]

Political career

Roberto and Sydney Manuel Barros Nekaka founded the Union of Peoples of Northern Angola (UPNA), later renamed the Union of Peoples of Angola (UPA), on July 14, 1954. Roberto, serving as UPA President, represented Angola in the All-African Peoples Congress of Ghana which he secretly attended in Accra, Ghana in December 1958. There he met Patrice Lumumba, the future Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenneth Kaunda, the future President of Zambia, and Kenyan nationalist Tom Mboya. He acquired a Guinean passport and visited the United Nations. [1] [4] [5] Jonas Savimbi, the future leader of UNITA, joined the UPA in February 1961 at the urging of Mboya and Kenyan Prime Minister Jomo Kenyatta. Later that year Roberto appointed Savimbi Secretary-General of the UPA. [6] [7]

The United States National Security Council began giving Roberto aid in the 1950s, paying him $6,000 annually until 1962 when the NSC increased his salary to $10,000 for intelligence-gathering. [7]

National Liberation Front of Angola

After visiting the United Nations, he returned to Kinshasa and organized Bakongo militants. [4] [8] He launched an incursion into Angola on March 15, 1961, leading 4,000 to 5,000 militants. His forces took farms, government outposts, and trading centers, killing everyone they encountered. At least 1,000 whites and an unknown number of natives were killed. [9] Commenting on the incursion, Roberto said, "this time the slaves did not cower". They massacred everything. [10]

Roberto met with United States President John F. Kennedy on April 25, 1961. When he applied for aid later that year from the Ghanaian government, President Kwame Nkrumah turned him down on the grounds that the U.S. government was already paying him. [11] Roberto merged the UPA with the Democratic Party of Angola to form the FNLA in March 1962 and a few weeks later established the Revolutionary Government of Angola in Exile (GRAE) on March 27, appointing Savimbi to the position of Foreign Minister. Roberto established a political alliance with Zairian President Mobutu Sese Seko by divorcing his wife and marrying a woman from Mobutu's wife's village. [4] [8] [12] Roberto visited Israel in the 1960s and received aid from the Israeli government from 1963 to 1969. [1] [13] [14]

Savimbi left the FNLA in 1964 and founded UNITA in response to Roberto's unwillingness to spread the war outside the traditional Kingdom of Kongo. [7]

Zhou Enlai, Premier of the People's Republic of China, invited Roberto to visit the PRC in 1964. Roberto did not go because Moise Tshombe, the President of Katanga, told him he would not be allowed to return to the Congo. [15]

On the eve of Angola's independence from Portugal, Zaire, in a bid to install a pro-Kinshasa government and thwart the MPLA's drive for power, deployed armored car units, paratroops, and three battalions to Angola. [16] However, the FNLA and Zaire's victory was narrowly averted by a massive influx of Cuban forces, who resoundingly defeated them. [17] [18]

In 1976, the MPLA defeated the FNLA in the Battle of Quifangondo and the FNLA retreated to Zaire. [1]

While Roberto and Agostinho Neto's proposed policies for an independent Angola were similar, Roberto drew support from western Angola and Neto drew from eastern Angola. Neto, under the banner of nationalism and Communism, received support from the Soviet Union while Roberto, under the banner of nationalism and anti-Communism, received support from the United States, China, and Zaire. Roberto staunchly opposed Neto's drive to unite the Angolan rebel groups in opposition to Portugal because Roberto believed the FNLA would be absorbed by the MPLA. The FNLA abducted MPLA members, deported them to Kinshasa, and killed them. [4]

In 1991, the FNLA and MPLA agreed to the Bicesse Accords, allowing Roberto to return to Angola. He ran unsuccessfully for President, receiving only 2.1% of the vote. However, the FNLA won five seats in Parliament but refused to participate in the government. [1]

Roberto died on August 2, 2007 at his home in Luanda. [19] [20] [21] After Roberto's death, President José Eduardo dos Santos eulogized, "Holden Roberto was one of the pioneers of national liberation struggle, whose name encouraged a generation of Angolans to opt for resistance and combat for the country's independence," and released a decree appointing a commission to arrange for a funeral ceremony. [22]

Related Research Articles

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Angola is a country in southwestern Africa. The country's name derives from the Kimbundu word for king. Angola was first settled by San hunter-gatherer societies before the northern domains came under the rule of Bantu states such as Kongo and Ndongo. In the 15th century, Portuguese colonists began trading, and a settlement was established at Luanda during the 16th century. Portugal annexed territories in the region which were ruled as a colony from 1655, and Angola was incorporated as an overseas province of Portugal in 1951. After the Angolan War of Independence, which ended in 1974 with an army mutiny and leftist coup in Lisbon, Angola achieved independence in 1975 through the Alvor Agreement. After independence, Angola entered a long period of civil war that lasted until 2002.

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The People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola, for some years called the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola – Labour Party, is a left-wing political party from Angola. The MPLA fought against the Portuguese army in the Angolan War of Independence from 1961 to 1974, and defeated the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and the National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA) in the Angolan Civil War. The party has ruled Angola since the country's independence from Portugal in 1975, being the de facto government throughout the civil war and the ruling since its end.

Agostinho Neto First President of Angola

António Agostinho Neto was an Angolan politician and poet. He 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.

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The National Front for the Liberation of Angola is a political party and former militant organisation that fought for Angolan independence from Portugal in the war of independence, under the leadership of Holden Roberto.

Angolan War of Independence 1961-1974 conflict for independence of colonial Angola from Portugal

The Angolan War of Independence, called in Angola the Luta Armada de Libertação Nacional, began as an uprising against forced cultivation of cotton, 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 dictatorship, 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

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Mobutu Sese Seko's foreign policy emphasized his alliance with the United States and the Western world while ostensibly maintaining a non-aligned position in international affairs. Mobutu ruled Zaire as President for 32 years, from 1965 to 1997.

The Alvor Agreement, signed on 15 January 1975 in Alvor, Portugal, granted Angola independence from Portugal on 11 November and formally ended the 13-year-long Angolan War of Independence.

Daniel Chipenda fought in the Angolan War of Independence, serving as the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola's (MPLA) field commander in the Eastern Front before founding and leading the Eastern Revolt, a faction of the MPLA. He later joined the National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA), but left, rejoined the MPLA, and left again in July 1992. He was an Ovimbundu.

The Nakuru Agreement, signed on June 21, 1975, in Nakuru, Kenya, was an attempt to salvage the Alvor Agreement, which granted Angola independence from Portugal and established a transitional government. While the Nakuru Agreement did produce a truce between the three nationalist movements—the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA), and National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA)—it was a fragile truce that dissolved on July 9, 1975.

Operation IA Feature, a covert Central Intelligence Agency operation, authorized U.S. government support for Jonas Savimbi's National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and Holden Roberto's National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA) militants in the Angolan Civil War. It was closely linked with parallel efforts by South Africa and Zaire. President Gerald Ford approved the program on July 18, 1975 despite strong opposition from officials in the State Department and the CIA. The program's discovery shocked Congress into barring further U.S. involvement in Angola's Civil War through the Clark Amendment.

The 1970s in Angola, a time of political and military turbulence, saw the end of Angola's War of Independence (1961–1975) and the outbreak of civil war (1975–2002). Agostinho Neto, the leader of the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), declared the independence of the People's Republic of Angola on November 11, 1975, in accordance with the Alvor Accords. UNITA and the FNLA also declared Angolan independence as the Social Democratic Republic of Angola based in Huambo and the Democratic Republic of Angola based in Ambriz. FLEC, armed and backed by the French government, declared the independence of the Republic of Cabinda from Paris. The National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA) and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) forged an alliance on November 23, proclaiming their own coalition government based in Huambo with Holden Roberto and Jonas Savimbi as co-presidents and José Ndelé and Johnny Pinnock Eduardo as co-Prime Ministers.

Angola–South Africa relations Bilateral relations

Relations between Angola and South Africa in the post-apartheid era are quite strong as the ruling parties in both states, the African National Congress in South Africa and the MPLA in Angola, fought together during the Angolan Civil War and South African Border War. They fought against UNITA rebels, based in Angola, and the apartheid-era government in South Africa which supported them. Nelson Mandela mediated between the MPLA and UNITA during the final years of the Angolan Civil War. Although South Africa was preponderant in terms of relative capabilities during the late twentieth century, the recent growth of Angola has led to a more balanced relation.

Cuban intervention in Angola Cuban operation in southwestern Africa

The Cuban intervention in Angola began on 5 November 1975, when Cuba sent combat troops in support of the communist-aligned People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) against the pro-western National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA). The intervention came after the outbreak of the Angolan Civil War, which occurred after the former Portuguese colony was granted independence after the Angolan War of Independence. The civil war quickly became a proxy war between the Eastern Bloc led by the Soviet Union and the Western Bloc led by the United States. South Africa and the United States backed UNITA and the FNLA, while communist nations backed the MPLA.

Angola–Cuba relations Bilateral relations

During Angola's civil war, Cuban forces fought alongside the Marxist–Leninist People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) government; against the Western-backed National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA) guerrillas who were aided by the South-African army. The present day outcome of the war resulted in the MPLA changing from a Marxist–Leninist party to a multi-party democratic system based on neoliberal principles. From an economic standpoint, Cuba has lost its preferred status among Angolans and South Africa has become the biggest single investor and trading partner with Angola.

Angola–Soviet Union relations Bilateral relations

Soviet–Angolan relations were close until the Angolan government renounced Marxist-Leninism in 1990 and adopted a pro-Western foreign policy. The close, personal relationship between President Agostinho Neto and Cuban leader Fidel Castro complicated the Soviet Union's involvement in the Angolan Civil War and foiled several assassination attempts against Neto.

Battle of Quifangondo Battle of the angolan civil war

The Battle of Quifangondo was fought on 10 November 1975, near the strategic settlement of Quifangondo, Luanda Province, between the People's Armed Forces of Liberation of Angola (FAPLA), armed wing of the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), and the National Liberation Army of Angola (ELNA), armed wing of the National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA). The engagement was notable for marking the first major deployment of rocket artillery in the Angolan Civil War, as well as the last serious attempt by ELNA forces to seize Luanda, the Angolan capital. It occurred on the last day of Portuguese colonial rule in the country, which formally received independence only hours after the fighting.

Revolutionary Government of Angola in Exile

The Revolutionary Government of Angola in Exile was a self-proclaimed government-in-exile based in Léopoldville in the Democratic Republic of the Congo during the Angolan War of Independence. It was led the National Liberation Front of Angola and its president was Holden Roberto. The GRAE was founded in April 1962 and had its armed forces stationed in the Congo where it also conducted military training. Congolese aid to the GRAE was gradually reduced once Moïse Tshombe became President. In July 1964, the Foreign Minister of GRAE, Jonas Savimbi, resigned.

References

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  2. Lamb, David (1987). The Africans . p.  178.
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  5. Rensburg, Abraham Paul Janse Van (1075). Contemporary Leaders of Africa. p. 303.
  6. Current Biography. H.W. Wilson Company. 1991. p. 499.
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  11. Elbaum, Max (2002). Revolution in the Air: From Malcolm and Martin to Lenin, Mao and Che. p. 217.
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  14. Figueiredo, António de (1961). Portugal and Its Empire: The Truth. p. 130.
  15. Nzongola-Ntalaja, Georges; Immanuel Maurice Wallerstein (1986). The Crisis in Zaire. p. 194.
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  17. Young, Crawford; Thomas Turner (1985). The Rise and Decline of the Zairian State . p.  254.
  18. "Involvement in the Angolan Civil War, Zaire: A Country Study". United States Library of Congress.
  19. "FNLA's Historic Leader Dies". Angola Press. 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2007-11-18.
  20. France-Presse, Agence (August 4, 2007). "Holden Roberto Dies at 84; Fought to Free Angola From Portuguese Rule". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-11-18.
  21. "Angolan independence leader Holden Roberto dies". CNN. August 3, 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-18.
  22. "Angola: Head of State Condoles With Death of FNLA Historic Leader". allAfrica.com. 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-18.

Further reading