Portugal or France in Africa? - Case Studies on Angola and Algeria

Research Paper (postgraduate), 2006

27 Pages, Grade: A-


Table of Contents:


Part One: The Independance

Part Two: The International Relations with the Former Colonizers

Part Three: The Internationl Relations with the Superpowers

Part Four: The Economic Performance




The African continent is one of the most important continents to study and to focus on; however, African politics and economics have not yet been sufficiently analyzed. According to some writers and also to some politicians, Africa is the continent of the future. However, there are others who consider Africa as the continent with no present and therefore, no future.

One of the main characteristics of Africa is European colonization, that affected all African nations, except Ethiopia. The European nations divided the African continent among themselves, into different colonies. In each colony, the colonizer imposed different rules, ideas and ideologies. As a result, studying how different colonizers performed in their different colonies is important and interesting. Another main characteristic is the horrible economic situation of the African states. The economic performance of the African states is known to be among the worst in the world, with very low annual growth and annual gross domestic product (GDP).

This paper is designed to study two African countries, Algeria and Angola, which were colonized by two different colonizers, France and Portugal respectively, in order to understand the various kinds of impact that different colonizers had on their former African colonies.

The comparison will go into different directions. In the beginning, I will start by comparing the process taken by each chosen African state in order to achieve its independence from its former colonizer and how this process affected the nation. Then I will analyze the relationship between each independent new state and its former colonizer. After that, I will explore the relationship that exists between the African states and the superpowers in order to understand why such relationships developed. At the end, I will analyze the economic situation of each country.

Part One: The Independence

On June 14, 1830, the first hundred French troops landed in Algeria, thus beginning the colonial era there. From 1830 until 1871, the French troops were faced with very strong resistance by the Algerian population. Throughout this period, the French colonial army conducted a certain policy that aimed to eliminate any kind of traditional economic or political ties. The French considered Algeria as a part of France. Algeria was considered to be one of the three main parts that comprise France. Despite this idea, the French did not considered the Algerian people as part of the French population, instead calling them colons. Until the year 1954, Algeria was considered to be a source of raw materials that helped industry in France. All the industries that took place in Algeria, were industries that are connected to agriculture and to domestic needs. The Algerians were prohibited from taking part in the economic activities vis-a-vis the French settlers. As a result, and with the emergence of the Arab independent movements that took place in Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco and also other independent movements that were considered to be as a beginning for the disintegration of the French empire, the Front de Liberation Nationale (FLN) started to emerge signaling the beginning of the war against French imperialism which took more than seven years until the independence of Algeria was reached (Stora, 2001).

During the era of colonization, the French played a very important role in shaping the personality and in redressing the ideology of the Algerians. The French played a role in providing a certain information and in increasing the sentiment that Algeria is a part of France to the Algerian children. All schools were French schools where the educational language was the French. The history that was taught in the schools was the French history (Gosnell, 2002). This shows that the French were not only using Algeria as a colony source of raw materials and for the enrichment of France, but Algeria was considered to be as a real part of France and all the practices of the French colonizers are proving this idea.

On November 1954, the Algerian claimed the start of their war of independence against the French colonizers. This war is considered to be the second largest war for decolonization that France took a part in, after the war of decolonization of the Indochina. France had to send more than two million French soldiers to Algeria in order to get engaged in the independence war, while Algeria lost one million of its peasants. The war took years till the French president, Charles de Gaulle announced that the Algerian war is costing France more than what it brings to it; therefore, an end of this war should take place. This pushed France to sign the Evian Accords that was followed by a cease-fire from the FLN side on the next day. On July 1, 1962, a referendum took place in Algeria for whether Algeria should be independent or not. The result was in favor of the independence that was claimed by the Algerian and recognized by France on July 3, 1962 (Stora, 2001).

Taking a look to the Angolan history, we will find that its situation is completely different. The Portugal was the first European country to start the colonization in Africa which took place in 1445, and also, the Portugal is the last colonizer to leave Africa. The Portuguese ships arrived reached the costs of mouth of the Congo, which is known nowadays by Angola, in 1482. Angola was considered to be a very important source of income to the Portuguese. The Portuguese needed to find a new way to get more cheap labor that should be transferred to the new lands in the west of the Atlantic in order to help in the economic activities over there. From here, the idea of slavery trade emerged, and of course, the African people were considered to be the best cheap labor for that. (Humbaraci and Muchnik, 1974). Angola played a very important role in the this slavery trade for two major reasons. From one hand, out of the ten million of slaves that were transferred from Africa, four million slaves were taken through the Angolan ports (Hare, 1998). On the other hand, the central African regions, which is located on the north of the Angolan territories, were protected from slavery due to numerous justifications (Humbaraci and Muchnik, 1974). In addition to the economic gain that Portugal was taking out of the colonization of Angola, the loss of the Brazil as a colony in 1822, strengthen the importance of Angola, which became the first important colony for the Portugal, replacing the South American colonies importance (Guimaraes, 1998).

The Portugal also played a very important role in shaping and forming the society of the Angolan. The Portuguese introduced what is called the asimilados. These were a small class of indigenous people that were granted from the Portuguese by certain privileges, which turned them to be in a higher position that the other African Angolan. In addition to the asimilados, the Portuguese introduced what is called the mestico. The mestico were considered to be the mixture of the African and European race. This race was in between the Europeans who were considered to be the higher social class and between the Africans who were considered to be the lower social class. There percentages were nearly the smaller in the Angolan population.

Despite the fact that the decolonization started to take place in the 1950's, the Portuguese were the last to leave their colonies in Africa. The Portugal that was governed by a dictatorship at the time, refused to give up its colonies without any national resistance or struggle. As a result, at the beginning of the 1960's, an armed resistance emerged in Angola against the Portuguese colonizers. At the beginning, there had been two groups of Angolan resistance. The first one is called the Movimiento Popular de Libertacao de Angola (MPLA), while the second one was named the Frente Nacional de Libertacao de Angola (FNLA). The MPLA was founded in 1956. Its traditional homeland was in the north central part of Angola, including its capital, Luanda. The asimilados joined, in large numbers, the MPLA as well as the mesticos, that both took a part from the leadership of the MPLA. The MPLA was considered to be as a leftist party and it was supported by the USSR and trained by the Cuban. The FNLA was founded in 1957. It was supported by Zaire due to the good relationship between the leader of the FLNA and the president of Zaire. They were claimed that they are nationalist and they were trained and armed by the Chinese. In 1966 and during the liberation struggle against the Portuguese, a third nationalist movement called the Uniao Nacional para a Independencia Total de Angola (UNITA) was formed and joined the struggle. UNITA is constituted from three main ethnic groups that were the lesser influenced by the European. UNITA was not receiving any training or the support of any foreign country. While the MPLA started its resistance from Zambia in the east of Angola, and the FNLA was attacking the Portuguese from the north, UNITA took its struggle inside Angola itself.

The war of liberation of Angola was a very important one. It was the first to take place as well as it was the bloodiest one. On February 4, 1961, the military struggle against the Portuguese started in Angola with the attack of the a police patrol in Luanda, by the militants of the MPLA (An African Watch Report, 1989). The FLNA, known at that time as the Union of the Peoples of Angola (UPA), started its military actions in march 1961, attacking the Portuguese troops from the northern side (Humbaraci and Muchnik, 1974). UNITA started its military struggle inside Angola in the east in 1966. UNITA was focusing on the political work with the peasants in order to create a certain militias. The end of the military struggle against the Portugal took place after the coup d'etat that took place in Portugal claiming the end of the dictatorship regime in it. The new Portuguese government was aware of the importance of the independence of the Portuguese colonies (An African Watch Report, 1989). Therefore, on November 11, 1975, Angola announced its independence and the Portugal proclaimed the transfer of the power into the hands of a new transitional government that consisted of a troika presidency of the three movements, i.e. the MPLA, the FLNA and the UNITA. Although, the clear proclamation of the Portuguese on how Angola will be governed, the Portugal did not ensure the completion of the transfer of the power into the hands of the three movements together. Therefore, the three liberation movements tried to strengthen their positions in Angola. The result was the rupture of the agreement and the rise of a conflict between the three movements in order to decide who would rule Angola independently. This was the beginning of the civil war in Angola (Guimaraes, 1998).


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Portugal or France in Africa? - Case Studies on Angola and Algeria
The American University in Cairo
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Portugal, France, Africa, Case, Studies, Angola, Algeria
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Ibrahim Abdel-Ati (Author), 2006, Portugal or France in Africa? - Case Studies on Angola and Algeria, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/85074


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