Angola's vast wealth belongs to Angolans
The last three decades have been a constant saga of human suffering in Angola, where too much blood and too many tears were shed. Families were divided by the ravages of war, children were lost to disease as the State collapsed in the midst of what seemed to be a never-ending armed conflict. But today, November 11th, Angola wakes up to a new, happier dawn and a brighter tomorrow.
When the colonial war with Portugal ended after the Revolution of 25th April 1974 in Lisbon, which heralded the break-up of the Portuguese Empire, there was a moment of euphoria, as everyone waited for Agostinho Neto to return from exile. But during the year and a half before the proclamation of independence, foreign powers had already started to move behind the scenes and the power struggle which would develop between three factions (Agostinho Neto's MPLA, Jonas Savimbi's UNITA and Holden Roberto's FNLA) was already under way.
Shortly after Agostinho Neto proclaimed independence in Luanda, Jonas Savimbi was doing the same a few hundred kilometers to the south. The rest of the story is well documented. Russians, Americans, Cubans, South Africans, openly and, covertly, so many other nationalities played their hands in a proxy war in which the real losers were the people of Angola.
Yet this people never broke. Today, like the Black Palanca, the symbol of Angola, every Angolan man and woman can stand firm, look the rest of the international community in the eye and say they are proud to be Angolans.
With the death of Jonas Savimbi in February 2002 during a military operation by the Angolan Armed Forces, a final and lasting peace settlement became easier to reach and in the last three years, Angola has risen from the ashes, ably led by its President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who has invested in education, insisting on an Angolanization of the country's managers.
Angola's vast wealth belongs to Angolans. Today the wounds have healed quickly, there is a spirit of true national reconciliation, the displaced persons are moving back home, aided by the government and the Rally of the Thirty Years of Independence, which ran through 11 of Angola's 18 provinces, is proof that anyone can go anywhere in safety in Angola today.
What a befitting epitaph for Angola on its 30th birthday. More tears will be shed in future, but these will be the tears of joy and the wonderful smile on the face of each Angolan child will be the mirror image of their hearts.