Colonialism, Ethnicity and War in Angola
Making a fresh contribution to our understanding of the history of Angola, this book explores the impact of social, political and economic change upon the largest ethnic group of the country, the Ovimbundu.
Based on extensive fieldwork conducted in Angola, including oral testimonies and life stories, participant-observation, and archival materials, this book shifts the viewpoint from the colonial enterprise, international politics and ideological alignments to focus on African experiences and responses. The author analyses the transformations introduced by Christianity and colonialisation and how they contributed to politicised modern notions of ethnic identity, creating communal imaginaries that began manifesting during Angolan’s anti-colonial war. He then explains how the weaving of this ethno-political landscape assisted UNITA’s mobilisation of significant parts of the Ovimbundu during the civil-war, essentially deepening popular belief in the axiom Ovimbundu-UNITA, and how the latter created a national imaginary that echoed social anxieties and moral discourses. The book then explores the links between ethnicity, politics and war on the quality of post-war citizenship in Angola, particularly on people’s integration in the citizenry or marginalisation from it.
Articulating a reading of ethnicity that connects high politics and elite based explanations with how ordinary people feel and discuss ethnicity, politics and citizenship, this book will be of interest to scholars of African history and politics, as well as ethnicity and nationalism.
Introduction 1. Christianity, ethnicity and modernity 2. Colonialism, Ethnicity and Modernity 3, The Ovimbundu and the Liberation War 4. Ovimbundu Political Ethnicity 5., Ethnicity and Post-war Citizenship Conclusion
“Vasco Martins’s Colonialism, Ethnicity and War in Angola invites us to reflect on an inconvenient subject in Angola: the role of ethnicity in the historical, political, social, and economic processes that created Ovimbundu identity. Beyond colonial history in the Central Plateau, the book analyzes the entanglements between ethnicity and the political party UNITA (União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola/National Union for the Total Independence of Angola) and between ethnicity and citizenship in the present. The author is explicit throughout the book about the taboos surrounding ethnicity, UNITA, the Ovimbundu, the political instrumentalization of identities, and finally, the marginalization of ethnic groups in Angola. […] This is a book that sets a novel agenda for future research, not only on the mobilization and politicization of ethnicity but also on the new history and the new chapters of UNITA’s strategies, elites, and reconfigurations following the election of Adalberto Costa Júnior as president of UNITA in 2019.”
Ana Lucia Sá, University Institute of Lisbon (ISCTE-IUL), Portugal, for H-Luso-Africa