Angola is a country located in the southern part of Africa; its capital, Luanda, lies on its South Atlantic Ocean coast. Adjacent to the capital are some major airports, such as like Lobito and Namibe. This article delves into the effect that international relations has had on the country’s society, cultural, politically, and economically.
Angola’s cultural richness is tangible; it owes this advantage to its central Bantu peoples and Kongo, an ancient kingdom (Oyebade, 2007). The Portuguese focus on the fort at the coast to control slave trade minimized cultural influence on the locals in the initial stages. The larger ethno-linguistic groups have characteristically distinctive cultures. Cultural rituals that mark the rites of passage have had Angola’s traditional art as an essential element. Oral storytelling and music involve the wearing of ceremonial masks. In the later stages, the highly resisted but successful Portuguese intrusion into the interior led to Portuguese education, which enabled written recordings of oral traditions.
A political history of the civil war in Angola, 1974-1990 chronicles politics in Angola since the times of Portuguese colonial power rule. The pre-independence rivalry between the governing MPLA and Unita rebels has carried on to the present (James, 2011). Soviet Union’s backing of MPLA was countered by the United States’ support of Unita to deter Soviet influence on the continent. This international intervention only catalyzed the situation the group’s activities. 16 years of political violence killed 300,000 people, instigating the need for a peace deal that facilitated an election, whose outcome Unita rejected; war resumed, claiming many lives of inhabitants. Despite another peace accord in 1994, which was accompanied by the deployment of UN peacekeepers, the fighting only worsened and the peacekeepers eventually withdrew, due to a collapse in international relations. Jonas Savimbi, who led Unita, was killed in a gunfight in 2002, causing progress towards a ceasefire later. Democracy has been adopted, but Unita still complains about the suppression of opposition; outside intervention has been limited.
Angola’s economic diversification has been greatly hindered by political instability (Cilliers, 2001). The economy is currently dependent on natural resources; the backbone resource is oil, which accounts for 90% of exports; oil succeeded coffee’s place in 1973. Other minerals are iron ore, phosphates, granite, and quartz, which are exported to the West and Asia for revenue and foreign currency. Its rich soil, coupled with a favorable climate and topography, give the country an appreciable agricultural potential. Forestry, fishery, and hydropower are also very promising if exploited. The lucrative investment opportunities have been eclipsed by the country’s skeptical political state. The post-independence world powers’ proxy war in the country and the collapse of the Soviet Union has limited constructive international intervention, given that MPLA is holding power; this has only politically polarized the Angolan society. Political stability still needs bolstering; the international community has the responsibility of facilitating education to enable the locals see the political system as an economic and development opportunity, rather than a means of achieving political supremacy.
The implication is that international relations and intervention in the country has done little to spur growth in the country. The symbiosis between a country and the outside world can be enriching, but if the foreign community only seeks to safeguard its interests, then the outcome is devastating for the locals. It is important for the origin of the mess to be acknowledged and accountability be incorporated in the country’s governance system.
Cilliers, J. (2001). Angola’s war economy: The role of oil and diamonds. Pretoria: Inst. for Security Studies.
James, W. M. (2011). A political history of the civil war in Angola, 1974-1990. New Brunswick [N.J.: Transaction Publishers
Oyebade, A. (2007). Culture and customs of Angola. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press.