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The revolution of 1961

The year 1961 was a bloody year of revolution such as Angola had never experienced before.

It was not completely unexpected, though. As anti-colonist tendencies won ground, the Portuguese government kept a close eye on the colonies. The PIDE discovered more and more suspicious movements and arrested suspects. The unsettling events which occurred in the Belgian-Congo during 1960 with the liberation of that colony, contributed to the reasons to be cautious and aware.

Nevertheless, the MPLA still managed to operate with a few cells in Luanda, while the UPA, with its headquarters in Kinshasa, remained busy in the border districts of northern Angola.

The direct cause of and the exact sequence of events are difficult to reconstruct: a lot of information is confusing and contradictory. According to Pélissier, the revolutions started rather spontaneously. (D.L. Wheeler and R. Pélissier, “Angola”, chapter 8.) Marcum points out the fact that the revolution occurred during an economic recession in Angola, caused by the dropping in world prices of coffee and cotton. (J.A. Marcum, “The Angolan Revolution. The anatomy of an explosion (1950-1962)”.)  The liberation of a great number of colonies in Africa in 1960 and especially the bordering Belgian-Congo, was definitely also an encouragement. It would have created excessive expectations for the successfulness of the revolution.

The year or unrest was started with the so-called cotton-revolution of the Cassanga area east of Malanje, where the company Cotonang, was developing large scale cotton planting. It was most probably...

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Images from 'Grensoorlog' series, produced by Linda de Jager, reproduced with kind permission from MNET
Images from 'Grensoorlog' series, produced by Linda de Jager, reproduced with kind permission from MNET
Images from 'Grensoorlog' series, produced by Linda de Jager, reproduced with kind permission from MNET
Images from 'Grensoorlog' series, produced by Linda de Jager, reproduced with kind permission from MNET
Images from 'Grensoorlog' series, produced by Linda de Jager, reproduced with kind permission from MNET

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