Courtesy Reuters

The first European power to arrive in black Africa is now the last to depart. The April 1974 coup in Lisbon, one of those rare instances in history when a change in government reverses a vital national policy, has led to the end of centuries of Portuguese colonization. Such a rapid shift in policy, resulting in the promise of independence for Mozambique on June 25 and Angola on November II of this year, was bound to fundamentally change the character of African politics. This decolonization in the south, together with the Ethiopian revolution, the new power of the oil-producing states, and the tragedy of the Sahel drought in the north, have made 1974-75 a historic time for Africa.

Angola is the last and certainly the most difficult territory for Portugal to leave. Since 1483, when Diogo Cao first came to the mouth of the gigantic river he called "Zaïre," Portugal has prided itself on maintaining this valuable territory, 14 times the size of the metropole itself and nearly twice as large as Texas. Besides these strong historical ties to Portugal, there are several factors which make Angola's transition to independence important, difficult, and as we shall see, potentially explosive.


Angola is a rich and relatively unexploited country. Indeed few territories have become independent with such wealth in mineral resources and such promise of a booming economy. Oil, diamonds, and iron ore have been found in abundance and no one can say what else exists in the land that has been minimally prospected. Because of its mineral wealth, Angola may well become one of the richest countries in Africa. Unprocessed primary products account for 80 percent of total exports, including a substantial agricultural output (raw cotton, fish meal, bananas, and wood are exported and Angola is the world's fourth-largest coffee producer).

With such natural resources, it is not surprising that the economy is booming. Since 1966, Angola's real growth rate has been over six percent and its total exports grew 37 percent during 1973, resulting in an increase

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