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Changing concerns, changing messages: UPA pamphlets and politics in northern Angola, 1960-62.

DOCUMENTS CAN BE STUDIED in different ways. A pile of pamphlets found in an archive, as is the case here, may be interpreted as a theme in itself: how do pamphlets as a medium relate to issues of political communication, writing and reading, production, distribution and audience? The same pile of pamphlets can also be used as a historical source: through these documents we can learn more about the events they concern and the perspectives of the people involved in these events.

In an earlier article I have focused on pamphlets as a medium of political communication in northern Angola, arguing that for a short, but crucial period of time pamphlets constituted a vital means of the nationalist leadership in exile in the adjacent Congo to try and control followers in Angola itself. (2) In the present contribution I will focus on the same pamphlets as a historical source, a kind of window on the past through which we can view and interpret what happened. As the contents of the pamphlets change through time, we can interpret historical processes. The pamphlets in the UPA (Uniao das Populacoes de Angola--Angolan Peoples' Union) movement show clear changes in tone and emphasis, at once providing a reflection of events in northern Angola and forming their authors' attempt to steer these events. The UPA started opposing Portuguese colonial rule in Angola in the late 1950s, and upon Angolan independence in 1975 was the largest Angolan nationalist movement. As it subsequently lost momentum, it has received much less attention than the competing Angolan groupings such as the MPLA (Movimento Popular para a Libertacao de Angola) and UNITA (Uniao Nacional para a Independencia Total de Angola) that gained in prominence over time.

The changes in the contents of the pamphlets may be divided into five chronological periods. Initially in the 1950s, the emphasis in the pamphlets is on mobilising local popular support for the movement; they explained the aims of the movement and encouraged people to support the nationalist movement. In the course of the year 1960 the pamphlets start to exude a more radical tone: they outline preparations for armed resistance. In the chaos immediately following the largely spontaneous outbreak of anti-colonial violence in North Angola in March 1961, the main aim of the pamphlets is to offer immediate instructions, orders and directions for safety as Portuguese reprisals spread. Furthermore, the revolt itself triggered intensive debates about violence, a fact reflected in the pamphlets produced during this intense phase. Some months later, the pamphlets entered a fourth phase as they became part of a wider attempt to structure a functional movement. Through bureaucratic procedures and written administration, the UPA guerrillas tried to build a framework for a new state. Finally, in the course of 1962 disillusionment set in when the Portuguese army expanded its counter-insurgency actions. The movement's growing sense of losing ground in Angola itself is reflected in the pamphlets as they desperately call for steadiness and condemn the faint-hearted.

In the concluding remarks, the aspect of periodization is stressed: through these pamphlets we can follow the changing interactions between the UPA leadership and their (potential) constituencies in northern Angola. Another important conclusion is that studying pamphlets allows for an interpretation of local interests, fears and perspectives on this crucial period in Angolan history: this ground-level insight is important, as most sources offer only colonial views or external analysis. Last but not least, they tell us more about the way in which UPA viewed pamphlets as a means of communication and about the events that most concerned the movement.

Pamphlets in the UPA Movement

When doing research in the archives of the Portuguese state security police (the Policia Internacional e de Defesa do Estado, or PIDE) in Lisbon on nationalism in the 1950s in northern Angola, I came across many translations of pamphlets from Kikongo into Portuguese. Most of them had been gathered through the PIDE intelligence network or found by the Portuguese military. The files also contained some originals or copies of documents written in Kikongo. While the overwhelming majority of the pamphlets are Portuguese translations from Kikongo, mention is also made of Kimbundu originals. In a few cases the original is written in French, the language of colonial administration in the neighboring Congo or even in Portuguese. Given that these files mostly contain copies and translations, it cannot always be determined whether the original was hand-written or stencilled; in the cases where copies of the Kikongo originals are available, they are stencils. The great majority of the texts concern the period 1958-1962, before and just after the watershed violence of March 1961. A number of interviews carried out in Luanda and Mbanza Kongo in 2002 and 2003 supplemented the material found in the PIDE archives in Lisbon. The main respondents were former fighters with the Frente Nacional da Libertacao de Angola (FNLA), the liberation movement that succeeded UPA, most of whom I had met in the FNLA offices, and nationalist leaders from Baptist circles, the principal Protestant missionaries in the region.

Pamphlets were only one means of communication during the Angolan nationalist war between the UPA leadership in the Congo and its followers in Angola. The movement also used slogans in songs, speeches, letters, journals, war communiques, and radio programmes. The pamphlets can be characterised as a separate genre on account of their references to the Bible, Kikongo proverbs, and local history. They were clearly meant to address particular local audiences, in contrast to journals and war communiques that were aimed at a much wider, international public.

Pamphlets carried significant weight, in that they were regarded as more trustworthy than the spoken word. In the Northern region writing was held in high esteem, associated with religion, and in general texts on paper were seen as carrying more authority than the oral word. Especially in the Baptist churches active in the region, reading and writing were encouraged and the missions played an important role in education, literacy and a local book culture. (3) Although outright intellectualism was mistrusted and, especially before the war, carrying pamphlets was dangerous, it was believed that they were more likely to directly express the views of the movement's leadership than oral messages. (4) Furthermore, in comparison to other written genres, pamphlets constituted one of the most direct means to disseminate information, orders, and news about the movement. Most of the pamphlets were written in name of the UPA leadership, although in most instances no clear individual authorship can be established for particular documents. Also, the leadership had no absolute monopoly: some pamphlets were produced by local UPA guerrilla leaders, and forgeries, created by PIDE, were also circulated. (5) Therefore, despite their claim to authority, the authenticity of the pamphlets was contested.

The pamphlets were carried into Angola by so-called mekuiza-mekwenda ("come-and-go")--UPA messengers who acted as go-betweens between the UPA leadership in exile in the Belgian Congo and their followers in Portuguese territory. They travelled from the Congo along secret routes through the huge forest areas in the North to reach villagers. The emissaries carried oral messages, slogans, and songs, but also piles of pamphlets and UPA membership cards. One of their most important tasks was to collect money to fund UPA's activities.

Before the war started, chiefs and headmen, even those appointed by the Portuguese administration, could be asked to convene a meeting with the trusted residents of a village. The most important channel to reach people, however, was through the local church elites. This strategy might be pursued through Catholic Church leaders, but especially Protestants were involved; in the North of Angola the British Baptist Missionary Society (BMS) had a longstanding presence and was less associated with Portuguese rule than the Catholic Church. The Portuguese authorities regarded the British Protestants with distrust, and the UPA leadership consisted mainly of a BMS network of catechists and former schoolboys. This wide network was also used to spread information about UPA's goals and methods. Protestant catechists, teachers/evangelists, deacons and other people prominent in church life were often contacted to spread UPA news, firstly because they were trusted by their congregants and secondly because they often were the only people in the villages who could read and write. The pamphlets were distributed during political meetings, or stuck to the doors and walls of public buildings during the night, to be found by the locals in the morning. After the war started in 1961, the messengers went to the guerrilla camps to contact the local UPA leaders to give their messages and hand over the pamphlets to be distributed. The UPA pamphlet culture started by the end of the 1950s, reaching its peak around 1961 and gradually lost importance after 1962.

The Historical Context

The UPA movement has its roots in the controversy surrounding the succession to the office of the King of Kongo in 1955. The Portuguese colonial regime in Angola made sure that their candidate for the throne was crowned as the new king. In that same year an organisation was founded that aimed at restoration of the historic Kongo kingdom, opposing the candidate approved by the Portuguese regime. The organisation was called UPNA (Uniao das Populacoes do Norte de Angola, Union of the Peoples of Northern Angola) and was led largely by emigrants from the region residing in Matadi and Leopoldville (later Kinshasa) in Belgian Congo. From a regional organisation, it grew into a political movement with nationalist aims, calling for Angolan independence. This new pan-Angolan orientation was reflected in its new name: Uniao das Populacoes de Angola (Union of Angolan Peoples, UPA).

Based outside Angola, the UPA leadership sought means to mobilise people within the colony. Given their backgrounds--the founders were mostly Baptists from northern Angola--they predominantly kept contact with people in the North, leaning towards protestant circles. UPA was not the only movement aiming at Angola's independence. There was also the Movimento Popular de Libertacao de Angola (MPLA, People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola), an organization with a mostly Luanda, well-educated leadership and a leftist outlook. These two movements were fierce rivals, and already before independence violent confrontations between them took place The UPA maintained good relations with the leading politicians in the independent Congo and their entourages, and later with the Zairian Mobutu government. (6) The MPLA had its headquarters in Conakry (Guine, in West Africa) and moved to Leopoldville only in October 1961. It tried to gain political and military leverage in this context, but with limited success. Later the MPLA was forced to carry out its activities from bases other than Congo-Leopoldville, and it operated mainly from Zambia and Congo-Brazzaville. (7) At the early stage of Angolan nationalism there existed a range of smaller movements with only limited impact. In Congo especially the PDA (Partido Democratico de Angola), Aliazo (Alliance des Ressortissants de Zombo), Ngwizako (Ngwizani a Kongo), Nto-Bako (Angolan branch of Abako: Association pour le maintien, l'uniti et l'expansion de la langue Kikongo), and MDIA (Mouvement de Defense des Interets de l'Angola) were rather wellknown, but these never managed to become really forceful nor did they attract much international attention. At a later date, a third movement came into existence, the UNITA, the Uniao Nacional da Independencia Total de Angola (UNITA, the National Union for Total Angolan Independence), which was formed by former UPA member Jonas Savimbi, who defected in 1964. During the colonial period his movement remained limited in size and had its main base in eastern Angola along the Lungue Bungo River, where it cooperated with the Portuguese colonialists to attempt to oust its main rival, the MPLA.

Tension had been rising in the colony over the incarceration of political prisoners, land appropriations from Africans by the colonial administration for Portuguese settlers, demands for forced labour, fear of sell-outs among African partisans, and the subversive actions of the Portuguese secret police (PIDE). As popular apprehension grew, the Angolan nationalist movements radicalised, and there was much talk in the air about a violent uprising. The Portuguese officials were aware of these sentiments, but when there were signs of an attack in March 1961, they were dismissed as "another rumour". (8)

On 15 March 1961 groups of young Kikongo men in northern Angola started attacking Portuguese farms in the region. They were not well-armed and had received no training, but as the attacks were massive and the Portuguese forces were not prepared to respond to an assault of these overwhelming proportions, many settler families died. Farm workers from other regions, people of mixed descent, and assimilados (Africans recognized as culturally competent in Portuguese contexts) were at risk if they did not know any of the attackers. (9) Most of the attackers attributed their source of inspiration to the UPA movement.

The reaction of the Portuguese was even more violent and had far-reaching consequences for the region. Many African civilians were killed, a program of villagization (in so-called "aldeamentos") was introduced to concentrate the survivors along roads accessible to police and military vehicles, and the majority of the region's inhabitants fled to already-independent Congo. In 1962, the UPA merged with another movement, called the Partido Democratico Angolano (PDA, Angolan Democratic Party) and the combined movement was renamed the Frente Nacional de Libertacao de Angola (FNLA--Angolan National Liberation Front). The FNLA maintained good contacts with successive political regimes in the Congo and became a kind of state within the state, but the authoritarian leadership of FNLA's president Holden Roberto evoked much protest in the course of time, while the movement suffered from defections, mutinies, and lack of organisation. All the same, the Portuguese forces never managed to win the war decisively, and the North remained a military zone until 1974 when a bloodless coup in Lisbon ended the colonial wars. Angola became independent in 1975, but fighting over the political spoils of victory flared up amongst the various movements. FNLA was initially one of the main contenders, but it was defeated militarily by the Luanda-based MPLA and became the small, divided political party that remains in present-day Angola.

Throughout the nationalist war, 1961-74, the Portuguese retained control over the centre of Angola and the major towns, but large stretches along the borders of the colony came under the influence of the nationalist movements. The support of the governments of Zambia, Congo-Brazzaville (for the MPLA), and Congo, later Zaire (for FNLA), were crucial for the Angolan nationalist movements, as their leadership and military bases were located there. After 1962, most FNLA followers had moved into Congo, but guerrilla incursions took place on a regular basis, and pockets of itinerant nationalists remained in the North. Contact with these members in Angola was not easy, and the leadership-in-exile invested much energy in overcoming intense military and police surveillance to communicate over long distances. The UPA movement had originally been founded by Kongo emigrants in Congo, and so the leadership sought means to remain in touch with its constituency in North Angola and elsewhere from the start during the five phases that are discussed below.

Phase I--Recruiting Members

By the end of the 1950s, UPA leaders in the Congo started spreading pamphlets to secure popular support in Northern Angola, sending out messengers to recruit members. The themes of these early pamphlets remained firmly within the realm of mobilisation: the movement's aims were explained, and people were called upon to join it. At the time, there was much confusion given that the various movements were in the process of creating profiles in order to distinguish themselves from their competitors. Leadership of the various movements was often undecided or divided about the course to follow. The movements changed names frequently, new political movements were founded daily, existing movements might quickly disappear, and some might merge with others; as a result, many prospective supporters did not know what to think. At this initial stage it was therefore important for a movement like UPA to state what it was and what it was not: "You may be confident that, as you were always advised, UPA is not the work of whites, it was created neither in Portugal nor in Luanda, but indeed by all of us who are sons of the Kongo kingdom in Angola." (10) The issue of succession to the Kongo kingship still loomed large, and although the name of the movement had changed from UPNA to UPA, signalling a transformation into a movement with colony-wide ambitions, many people from the North still regarded UPA as a vehicle to restore the Kongo king and the glory of the old Kongo kingdom. These issues of Kongo history were usually linked to the wider background of local and national developments: history was an important ingredient of these early pamphlets. The slave trade, colonial conquest, and the destruction of local political structures were frequently referred to: "Cursed be the day the Lusitanians were admitted in Angola!" one widely circulated pamphlet declared. (11)

Money was another frequent theme of the early pamphlets and many authors went out of their way to explain the need for financial and other forms of support:
   Rejoice, UPA associates, because you have already found that what
   you were seeking. The UPA cards will be sold to you on the day of
   15 June in all the towns. They were already sold in the villages in
   the interior of Angola. We do this to increase our capital ever
   more, given that money is our best weapon. The cards will be sold
   for the price of 110 francs, although women and boys and girls can
   buy them at 60 francs [...]. We have to be generous monetarily as
   well as spiritually, because later we will be assisted by others.
   Let us imitate all those who are free so that we will also be set
   free. We know that God is our first and prime protector; he is the
   almighty Lord who will show us the road to follow. (12)

These initial themes of identification, mobilisation and rallying financial support were soon superseded, however, by calls for action.

Phase II--Preparing for Revolt

In the course of 1960, the tone of the pamphlets changed as UPA moved towards a more violent course. Although none could foretell where this more aggressive strategy would eventually lead, there were many debates about the need to resist Portuguese rule in Angola by taking up arms. During meetings of the UPA leadership in Congo, radical and more moderate wings stood pitted against each other. In retrospect some held that the UPA leadership had no hand in organising the rebellion in the North in March, 1961, and that it had been "spontaneous". Obviously, no one had foreseen the dramatic events that would turn March 1961 into such a watershed in the history of northern Angola. At the same time, however, it is clear that the radical sections of UPA were gaining the upper hand, that there had been some preparation for action, and that UPA leadership was involved in calling upon people to prepare themselves for vaguely defined momentous events. (13)

With Congo gaining independence in mid-1960, communication between the UPA leadership in exile there and militants inside Angola was crucial. Messengers were sent out with increasing frequency and visited as many villages as possible. There were specific hymns that were sung, and prayers with double meanings were said in the BMS churches, so that those involved would know that something was up. Village elders were asked to keep the youth ready, and groups of youngsters prepared themselves for attack. As all mail was checked by the government censorship services pamphlets, hand-distributed by the messengers, played a prominent role in announcing these events. They carried them along the secret forest paths, and market women smuggled them hidden under their goods. The pamphlets ominously warned people to prepare themselves for the unspecified upcoming events. (14)

The most famous of all these pamphlets was the so-called "Festa" pamphlet, which is regarded as the trigger for the revolt. In single broad action, this pamphlet was stuck up on buildings all over Northern Angola during one night. It was spread through the UPA distribution network as well, and PIDE officials encountered it as far away as Mocamedes in the southwest of the colony. (15) This pamphlet was written in Kikongo, Portuguese, English, and French and announced the attacks in barely veiled form: "The marriage of the daughter of Nogueira will be on 15 March. This will be party day. We will paint the houses, clean the streets, cut the trees and tidy the bridges." (16) Various versions of the text circulated, but the "festive" element always figured prominently:


As of the 15th of this month the festivities concerning the realisation of the matrimonial bonds of the Lord must be started in all locations. That is, each one in his region or centre must proceed in the following manner:

1. Women and children must leave their villages and proceed to the administrative centres where the festivities will take place.

2. The agricultural estates and the simple fields of the natives must be cleaned. In the same order of ideas, the residences of state officials and of the friends of the same state, of the whites looking after the plantations and the trading houses must be cleaned and white-washed well. The vehicles of the state and also private cars must be washed and painted well.

This version of the "Festa" pamphlet continues by calling upon people to prepare themselves for a long journey, holding that local police and military should side with the people if they were not to be viewed as enemies of the fatherland, while asking for God's help. (17) By the time the Portuguese secret police had translated the document, the "festivities" were well under way.

Phase III--Attempts to Create Order

Chaos ensued, starting in the middle of the month of March, 1961. Groups of armed young men tried to attack Portuguese-owned estates and administrative centres, as white vigilantes retaliated by killing any African they saw, the Portuguese military started indiscriminately bombing the forests where fleeing civilians tried to make their way to Congo. Nobody knew exactly what was happening, and there was enormous confusion. People lost sight of relatives in the melee, and the numbers of casualties will probably never be known. UPA followers were not certain about the course to take in many situations, and in Congo UPA leadership reacted to the events with confusion. Holden Roberto expressed his regret at the "extreme violence" and at the fact that Portuguese women and children were amongst the casualties, then blamed everything on Portuguese violence, while travelling quickly from New York back to Leopoldville. Although there had been instructions to "get ready", little had been organised, and specific directives were lacking. (18)

At this stage, communication between UPA leadership and followers was geared towards creating order out of chaos. The tone of the pamphlets during the first months after the revolt had started was usually practical, containing precise directives to follow in various situations. An example of such practical guidelines, meant to restore order, can be found in a pamphlet dated 30 June 1961 stipulating that:

1. As of this moment all women, children and elderly must be taken into the dense bush, hiding them in secure and reliable, inaccessible places,

2. Each time when you hear the sound of an aeroplane, beat the drum three times before it approaches the village or the place where you are, in order to warn all the people that an aeroplane is coming. Next, everyone must disperse and throw themselves on the ground, well spread-out in the place so as to "weed" it. [... If] each individual is spread on the ground he is seen by the pilots as if it were a rock or a tree trunk or any other thing. (19)

From the leadership in Leopoldville, and also at more local levels, attempts were made to regulate the behaviour of UPA soldiers and followers in many spheres. There were rules against drunkenness, (20) directives as to how to react in case people did not possess the proper UPA passes, (21) advice regarding the killing of enemies, (22) news about the delivery of arms and ammunition, and ideas concerning the presence of prophets, (23) among others. After some time, these basic instructions became clearer, and steps were taken to arrive at a more structured functioning of the movement.

Phase IV--Paperwork in UPAs Forests

As time passed, the guerrillas tried to improve their degree of organisation. Although the Portuguese controlled the regional administrative centres in the North, many parts of the forests surrounding them were under UPA control. This spatial separation of spheres of activity created a certain margin for manoeuvre while bringing the organisation closer to the people on the ground, thus increasing hopes for an independent Angola. In expectation of victory, state-like structures were invented, complete with borders, bureaucratic rules, councils, titles and passes. These passes and borders had consequences not only for local UPA leaders, who received titles and ranks, but also for the rank-and-file and the civilians under UPA control. Some people were shot for not possessing "proper" passes. (24) Young soldiers were not allowed to alter their name without consent of the leadership: nicknames were allowed but only with authorisation of the president, Holden Roberto. (25)

Coinciding with the novel focus on bureaucracy and structures, the pamphlets of this period stressed the importance of writing, registration, books, and other administrative forms. Having matters written down was seen as essential; these documents would form the basis of the future independent state of Angola. This vision of the future meant that all UPA soldiers were to be registered, so as to ensure their compensation after independence:
   We wish to advise those who have not as yet inscribed themselves in
   the book of salvation of UPA to do this as soon as possible,
   because UPA has opened its paternal doors for all and welcomes all
   with open arms. All those who wish to wait until the eleventh hour
   to inscribe, they should not complain if something bad happens to
   them. The Judge is on the alert for such lingerers, because the
   book of UPA represents the land of Angola itself. It should also be
   understood further that only the whites, who will be expelled from
   this land, cannot be inscribed in the UPA book of salvation. (26)

Eventual compensation for the personal sacrifices that UPA guerrillas had made came to play an increasing role in the pamphlets. An example can be found in the following pamphlet. After wishing "All our brothers still resident in Angola" a happy New Year and all God's blessings, the hope is expressed that "It will soon become true that our country--which we want to liberate and in which milk and honey are abundant--will be set free." The pamphlet concludes with: "The UPA asks you to be patient, as you were until now, until the end of the works in this campaign, because the holy books affirm: COMPENSATION WILL OCCUR AT THE END OF THE LABORS." (27)

Soon, however, hopes for a quick victory were dashed, and Portuguese reprisals and military occupation made the situation untenable for many UPA followers.

Phase V--Disillusion Sets In

At the start many people engaged in the struggle for independence with zeal and enthusiasm. The expectation was that soon the hardships of the war would be over: the United Nations and a range of friendly countries would arrive to help, the Portuguese would leave, and Angola would be independent. But after the first outburst of violence, disillusion set in. People suffered from the cold of the dry season, then from the rains afterwards, and in many areas the UPA forces and the civilians accompanying them went hungry. After the Portuguese army had started its bombing campaign, the danger of being killed became very real. Many local people knew places to hide, but when the troops entered the forests on foot, mainly during the dry season of 1962, life in the forest became very difficult. Medicine was scarce, and the sick and wounded often received no medical care. Many UPA groups were left without any means to defend themselves, as no arms or ammunition were forthcoming from the movement's leadership in Congo. Often, for fear of detection by the Portuguese, they trekked from one place to the other without using any shelter. For many the suffering and fear became too much, and they left, for Congo or moved to Portuguese settlements.

The texts of the UPA pamphlets were once again adapted to these new circumstances. Some months after the rebellion had started, the pamphlets' main concern became to encourage people and admonish the faint-hearted:
   You sit with your arms crossed, but remember that in Luanda your
   brothers are being killed by the bullets of rifles and by massacres
   of various kinds, by the whites, only because they asked for their
   INDEPENDENCE. [...] Arise! Go and defend the cause that is also
   yours, that is the cause of all of us, because as a matter of fact
   God cannot descend from heaven to remove the Portuguese from power
   and put you there, but He can help you, as He did once before with
   the people of Israel. (28)

The pamphlets called upon people to remain loyal to UPA, to "wake up from their/your dreams," and to "always look forward, never backward." (29)

In letters and circulars suffering UPA fighters and followers in Angola the leaders staying in Congo to help them:

To our brothers resident in Leo[poldville], we have to say that we write you this letter to tell you that we complain immensely of your passivity [...]. It is very sad to note that you do not send the promised medicines, meaning that you do not sympathise with our pains or that we, who are fighting and suffering immensely for our country, do not matter to you. We affirm that your collaboration is inefficient. (30)

Feeling that their plight was not being recognized, tensions rose between those in the forests and the leadership in Congo. UPA leadership reacted by denying such accusations: "As to your suffering, it is true and we have not forgotten about you. Do not judge that we are immobilized and inactive, we continue to work strenuously for the liberation of our country." (31) UPA leadership was also "afflicted and sad" upon hearing about irregularities in the forests, of the sort to which desperate people resort: "It concerns shameful cases of sacking, pillaging, robbery, violation and others that put us to great shame [...]. Let us give up barbaric acts, to consider ourselves prophets, let us give up enmity and indifference, fetishism and superstitions." Those acting against UPA's instruction would be severely punished, even if they had "killed 1,000 Portuguese soldiers." (32)

After UPA joined forces with PDA and changed its name to become FNLA in 1962 Holden Roberto and his entourage formed a Governo Revolucionario de Angola no Exilio, a revolutionary Angolan government in exile. The Portuguese army entered the forests in force, and most guerrillas and civilians fled to the Congo. Pamphlets continued to be produced, but they were less crucial in the communication between leadership in the Congo and followers in Angola. With the great majority of their constituency joining them in exile, FNLA leaders could address them directly during meetings animated by choirs and dance groups in the Congo, renamed Zaire in 1971. These meetings featured the theme of a return to a free Angola. FNLA fighters regularly mounted attacks in northern Angola, but they were organised from the Congo, and the guerrillas' sojourns in Angola were not very long.

Concluding Remarks

The ways in which the UPA leadership sought to mobilise people and retain their loyalty to the cause of their struggling movement have so far hardly been addressed in research on Angolan nationalism. Equally little is known about the ideals, fears and wishes of UPA followers. The pamphlets studied here formed an important means of interaction between these groups in the critical early months of the Angolan war of liberation in 1960-62. Through them, we can learn more about the socio-cultural aspects of the nationalist war and the leadership's views on it.

The UPA pamphlets are recognisable as a particular genre in their evident relationship to oral traditions, Christianity, and local history, as well as in terms of production, form, style, and audience. At the same time, however, they were not static in content but adapted to rapidly changing contexts and strategic concerns. Initially meant to clarify the movement's aims and to recruit new members, the tone of the pamphlets shifted towards calling upon followers to engage in armed action. Right after the rebellion started in March 1961, the leadership used the pamphlets as a means to spread directives, instructions and orders in chaotic circumstances, after which a concern with a more formal bureaucracy and administration became apparent. Finally, as the movement's struggle began to face challenges and showed signs of losing momentum, the pamphlets were used to prevent disillusion from setting in amongst those weary of war. The clear chronology in these documents renders them particularly suitable for historical study: their changing contents offer a window on local interests, hopes, and fears during these crucial events in Angola's history.


Abako: Alliance des Bakongo

Aliazo: Alliance des Ressortissants de Zombo

FNLA: Frente Nacional de Libertacao de Angola

GRAE: Governo Revolucionario de Angola no Exilio

MPLA: Movimento Popular de Libertacao de Angola

Ngwizako: Ngwizani a Kongo

Nto-Bako: Association pour le Maintien, l'Unite et l'Expansion de la Langue Kikongo-Angolan branch of Abako

MDIA: Mouvement de Defense des Interets de l'Angola PDA: Partido Democratico de Angola

PIDE: Policia Internacional e de Defesa do Estado

UNITA: Uniao Nacional para a Independencia Total de Angola

UPA: Uniao das Populacoes de Angola

UPNA: Uniao das Populacoes do Norte de Angola

(1) This article has been written in the framework of the WOTRO Science for Global Development program "Mobile Africa revisited". WOTRO funds research concerned with tropical regions and forms part of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO). Thanks to Robert Ross for moral and academic support and to WOTRO for financial support. For more information on the program, see:

(2) Preliminary title: "'The Time of the Leaflet': Pamphlets and Political Communication in UPA (North Angola, around 1961)".

The adjoining Congo was the Belgian colony, until mid-1960 and then became the independent nation of the same name until 1972, when president Mobutu Sese Seko renamed the country Zaire. With Mobutu's eventual expulsion in 1997, it was renamed The Democratic Republic of Congo. The similarly named former French colony on the northern bank of the lower river became the People's Republic of Congo, also known after independence as Congo Brazzaville.

(3) F. James Grenfell, Historia da Igreja Baptista em Angola, 1879-1975 (BMS: Queluz 1998).

(4) John M. Janzen, "The Consequences of Literacy in African Religion: The Kongo Case," in Wim van Binsbergen and Matthew Schoffeleers, eds., Theoretical Explorations in African Religion (London: Kegan Paul International 1985): 225-52; Interview with Eduardo Mauricio Nzuzi (born in Mbanza Majini, 1922), Mbanza Kongo, 23 November 2003.

(5) John Marcum, The Angolan Revolution. Volume 1: The Anatomy of an Explosion (1950-1962) (Cambridge MA: MIT Press, 1969), 131-2, appendix D, 343-4.

(6) Joseph Kasa-Vubu (1910 [?]-1969), first president (1960-1965) of Congo; Cyrille Adoula (1921-1978), prime minister 1961-1964.

(7) Marcum, Anatomy of an Explosion, 179, 200.

(8) Instituto dos Arquivos Nacionais/Torro do Tombo (Lisbon, Portugal) (IANTT), Policia Internacional e de Defesa do Estado (PIDE), Delegacao de Angola, Processo de Informacao, 11.12.A, 467-73: Copy of "Relatorio dos factos ocorridos no Posto Administrativo do Cuimba, desde o dia 13 de Marco de 1961 ate 19 do mesmo mes," Maquela do Zombo, 20 March 1961 (IANTT, PIDE, Del.A., P.Inf. (if not stated otherwise, all further references of IANTT are from the files: PIDE, Del.A., P.Inf).

(9) Assimilado: colonized person considered "Portugalized' enough to receive a special status in the colonial system.

(10) IANTT, SC-CI 2126, vol 1, 1001.

(11) Ibid., 1115; Interview with Eduardo Mauricio Nzuzi.

(12) IANTT, SC-CI 2126, vol 1, 1039-40, "Associados da UPA, regozijai-vos," written by P. J. E. Kiasulamwa, 1 June 1960.

(13) For a discussion, see Marcum, Anatomy of an Explosion, 141-2, 145-6.

(14) IANTT, 11.12.B, 859. Cf. Elizabeth Schmidt, "'Emancipate your Husbands!' Women and Nationalism in Guinea, 1953-1958," in Jean Allman, Susan Geiger, and Nakanyike Musisi, eds., Women in African Colonial Histories (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002): 282-304; here 290.

(15) IANTT, 11.12.B, 410: Luanda, Guarda Fiscal to PIDE, 5 April 1961.

(16) Interview (in Portuguese) with Pastor Alvaro Rodriguez (born in Mbanza Kongo), in Luanda, 17 August 2002; Interview with Eduardo Mauricio Nzuzi, Savula Frederico Deves (born in Mbanza Kongo, 1919) and Eduardo Manzevo Ovimpi (born in Madimba, 1935) in Mbanza Kongo, 24 November 2003; Helio Felgas, Querra em Angola (Lisbon: A.M. Teixeira, 1962), 54; Joao de Melo, Os anos de guerra, 1961-1975: Os portugueses em Africa: cronica, ficcao e historia (2 vols., Lisbon: Circulo de Leitores, 1988), 109. Nogueira being Portugal's Minister of Foreign Affairs.

(17) IANTT, 11.12.B, 410: Luanda, Guarda Fiscal to PIDE, 5 April 1961, also: IANTT, 14.15.A, 84-5: 16 May 1962.

(18) Marcum, Anatomy of an Explosion, 141-2, 145-6.

(19) IANTT, SC-CI 2126, vol 1, p. 889: "Avisos a todas a gente de Angola" UPA, Leopoldville, 30 June 1961, Signed: Holden Roberto, Portuguese translation (also IANTT, 11.12.B, 60-2).

(20) IANTT, 11.12.B, 111-6.

(21) IANTT, SC-CI 2126, vol 1, p. 891: "Aos soldados defensores e a todas as gentes de Angola," 30 June 1961, Signed: Holden Roberto; IANTT, 11.12.B, 63-6: UPA pamphlet, To: "Aos soldados defensores e a todas as gentes de Angola" (kwa masoladi yo nkangu awonso a Angola), from: Holden Roberto, s.l., s.d., PIDE translation: 24 June 1961.

(22) IANTT, 11.12.B, 44-6: "Words of Senhor Holden Roberto," Leopoldville, 20 May 1961, Kikongo and Portuguese translation.

(23) IANTT, 11.12.B, 111-14, From: Holden Roberto, Leopoldville, 11 June 1961. Kikongo and Portuguese translation.

(24) IANTT, 11.12.B, 235.

(25) IANTT, 11.12.D, 3: JUPA pamphlet, signed: Garcia Casimiro, Manuel Jorge, "Comportamento a levar no acampamento," s.d., PIDE translation: 15 September 1961.

(26) IANTT, 14.15.A, 101, Paulino Eduardo, 12 August 1961; also: IANTT, SC-CI 2126, vol 1, 892: "Aos nossos soldados da Juventude que actuam em Angola". From JUPA, Leopoldville, s.d.; cf. Derek Peterson, "Writing in Revolution: Independent Schooling and Mau Mau in Nyeri," in E. S. Atieno Odhiambo and John Lonsdale (eds), Mau Mau and Nationhood: Arms, Authority and Narration (Oxford, Nairobi, Athens: Oxford University Press, 2003), 76, 89.

(27) IANTT, 11.12.E, 372-3, "A todos os nossos irmaos ainda residentes em Angola," Leopoldville, s.d., PIDE translation: 9 April 1962.

(28) IANTT, 11.12.1, 503-4: UPA pamphlet. "Angolanos, e chegada a hora do resgate," s.l., s.d., PIDE translation 29 January 1965.

(29) IANTT, 11.12.F, 82-84: Circular UPA. Leopoldville, 23 April 1963; Ibid., 11.12.F, 238-240: UPA pamphlet. "Atodos os mancebos e donzelas que militam no seio da JUP0041," Leopoldville, 3 January 1963; Ibid., 11.12.F, 688-9, Holden Roberto, "A todos angolanos que ainda residem em Angola, Leopoldville," 30 August 1962.

(30) IANTT, 11.12.E, 650: "Letter to our brothers in Leo," s.l. (Pangala), s.d., PIDE translation: 19 February 1962.

(31) IANTT, 11.12.E, 820: Letter, Holden Roberto "to all our beloved brothers in the villages: Banza, Sungu, Kimbondo, Kivuva, Kinzambi, Kilonde, Kiluango, Pelo, Nsasa, Tema, Tele, Makoko, Mabaia, Gonde, Kisitikina, Nsundi, Nganzi, Kipungi, Kinsundi and Ngombe," Leopoldville, s.d., PIDE translation: 23 January 1962.

(32) IANTT, 11.12.E, 120-3, Eduardo J. Pinnock, "This pamphlet is meant especially for the militant youth and those of our brothers who still live in Angola," Leopoldville, s.d., PIDE translation: 23 March 1962; Also: IANTT, 11.12.F, 460: Letter, Eduardo J. Pinnock, "To all our youths fighting in Angola," Leopoldville, s.d., PIDE translation: 9 February 1962.

Inge Brinkman

African Studies Centre, Leiden. The Netherlands

INGE BRINKMAN studied History and African Studies, earning her doctorate with a thesis on Kikuyu gender norms and narratives (Leiden, 1996). She has been a researcher at the African Studies Centre, Leiden, The Netherlands, since 2008. Since 1999 she has published on numerous aspects of culture and history in several areas of war-torn modern Angola and is now working on the recent history of mobility and communication technologies.
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Author:Brinkman, Inge
Publication:Portuguese Studies Review
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Date:Jan 1, 2011
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