By Stephen L. Weigert (auth.)
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Extra info for Angola: A Modern Military History, 1961–2002
69 Cabindan residents, some of whom had already joined the ranks of the Mouvement 28 Angola de Liberation de l’Enclave de Cabinda (MLEC) in 1961, were not rallying to the MPLA, and by 1963, a small separatist movement known as the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC) had emerged to challenge MPLA and FNLA claims to lead or speak for the enclave’s sixty thousand inhabitants. A French analyst observed that the FNLA’s and MPLA’s shortcomings persisted long after Savimbi’s initial criticisms and faulted both movements for their continued “neglect of the need to win over the peasantry .
Contacts with other African nationalist movements in the late 1950s convinced Bakongo separatists to abandon their secessionist cause and pursue a broader Angolan national agenda. 38 The earliest battles of the Angolan struggle for independence bore some resemblance to the initial phases of modern nationalist insurrections in Madagascar (1947), Kenya (Mau Mau in 1950s) and neighboring Congo in the early 1960s. 39 Contrary to Amilcar Cabral’s observations on the conservative nature of the peasantry in Guinea-Bissau, rural Angolans demonstrated, in 1961, what Mao had realized in 1927 when he acknowledged, “The poor peasants [are] the most revolutionary group” and “without the peasant there would be no revolution.
This plan was quickly abandoned, perhaps intentionally, but possibly due to the provocation of plantation owners who shot at striking workers. Violence escalated rapidly, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of colonial settlers and thousands of Africans. Unarmed civilians on both sides were slaughtered over the next eight months. 47 UPA leader Holden Roberto initially denied complicity in the March events, but other members later took responsibility for what they subsequently described as the start of their struggle for Angolan independence.