Roots of Discontent
Under the Salazar regime, Angolans who neither spoke
Portuguese nor behaved as Europeans, like this mother and child,
were classified as indígenas.
Courtesy Richard J. Hough
Portugal's assimilationist policy had produced a small
educated Africans who considered themselves Portuguese.
But as this
group recognized that it was not fully respected by the
and as it became increasingly aware of its alienation from
traditional origins, some members began to articulate
both of their own ambiguous social and cultural situations
the plight of the nonassimilated majority of Africans.
their ranks emerged most of the first generation of
The influx of rural Africans to towns also bred
resentment. In the 1950s, the population of Luanda almost
and most of the growth was among Africans. Lured by the
of work, Africans in towns became aware of the inequality
opportunities between Europeans and Africans. The
system that many had experienced in rural areas was
regarded as the
most onerous aspect of Portuguese rule. More than any
this system, which was not abolished until 1962, united
Africans in resentment of Portuguese rule.
The Salazar government's settlement policies
contributed to the
spread of anticolonial resentment, especially after 1945.
policies resulted in increased competition for employment
growing racial friction. Between 1955 and 1960, for
government brought from Portugal and the Cape Verde
than 55,000 whites. Induced to emigrate by government
money and free houses, these peasants settled on
(large agricultural communities). Many immigrants to the
colonatos were unskilled at farming, often lacked
elementary education, or were too old for vigorous manual
Consequently, many of them were unsuccessful on the
colonatos and, after a time, moved to towns where
competed with Africans, often successfully, for skilled
unskilled jobs. The Portuguese who held jobs of lower
often felt it all the more necessary to claim social
over the Africans.
External events also played a role in the development
independence movements. While most European powers were
to grant independence to their African colonies, the
was seeking to reassert its grasp on its colonies, as
the effort it expended in the ill-fated colonatos
There were two basic patterns in the rise of
Angola. In one case, African assimilados and other
Africans with some education joined urban mestiços
whites in associations based on the assumption that their
were different from, and perhaps in competition with,
those of the
majority of the African population still attached to their
communities. Angolans also formed organizations based on
religious groupings that encompassed or at least sought to
rural Africans, although the leaders of these
had some education and urban experience.
Data as of February 1989