In the Name of the People: Angola's Forgotten Massacre

Jeremy Harding writes:

‘Angola is no longer a colonial fiction,’ Ricardo Soares de Oliveira writes in Magnificent and Beggar Land, even though it was a ruined, inchoate slab of territory during the last years of Portuguese rule and then for decades after independence. ‘There now is,’ he goes on, ‘fifty years and one million dead later, an Angola where everyone is pulled into a single political society.’ Forty of those years were spent at war, but today Angola is a model of fast-track 21st-century African development, with GDP growth rates comparable to India’s, at least until the recent fall in oil prices. The ruling Marxist party, the Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola (MPLA), embedded its style of postcolonial governance by resisting its enemies at home and abroad, and distributing largesse to loyal members of the movement. Its Marxism-Leninism is a thing of the past, after an abrupt about-turn in 1990, as Soares de Oliveira, an associate professor in African politics at Oxford, explains: ‘Off went the poorly cut uniform and in came Savile Row suits.’

(LRB 17 March 2016)

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