• Short Summary

    The announcement in Lisbon on Sunday (August 4) that Portugal is to give independence to its African colony of Portuguese Guinea, is the beginning of the end of 500 years of Portuguese colonisation in Africa.

  • Description

    The announcement in Lisbon on Sunday (August 4) that Portugal is to give independence to its African colony of Portuguese Guinea, is the beginning of the end of 500 years of Portuguese colonisation in Africa.

    Portuguese explorers first landed on the African coast in the middle of the 15th century. A colony was first founded on what is now Portuguese Guinea in 1446. Similarly in its two major colonies - Angola and Mozambique Portuguese authority has been established for over four centuries.

    But Portugal has been fighting bitter wars against the forces of independence in all three territories throughout the last dozen years. And in Portuguese Guinea, the war was already lost. In declaring the territory virtually independent, Portugal is merely recognising the facts.

    Long before the Lisbon announcement, 90 nations of the world had granted recognition to the independent state of Guinea-Bissau. Large areas of this country and the majority of its one million people, have bene under the control of the Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) for the past two years, despite the efforts of 40,000 Portuguese troops to prevent them.

    Talks are to begin immediately no the handover of power from Portugal to the PAIGC leader and total independence is expected within a matter of a few weeks.

    The yielding up of Guinea-Bissau now throws into question the future of Portugal's remaining territories, Angola and Mozambique. Angola is wealthy in iron ore, oil, diamonds and coffee.

    Here the efforts to stem the tide of nationalism has had more success than in its other colonies, largely because of rivalry between different fractions in the independence movement.

    Since the Lisbon coup in April, guerilla forces in Angola have stepped up their campaign, blowing up railway lines and engaging Portuguese troops in many isolated areas, and the appeal of independence is likely to grow. The leader of the most powerful of Angola's nationalists groups is 52-year-old Dr. Agostinho Neto. His opposition to Portuguese rule was active as long ago as 1960, since when he has been arrested and exiled. Returning to Angola, he established himself as a guerilla fighter and political leader. In any future negotiations on Angolan Independence, he is like to emerge as a dominant figure.

    Portugal's third African colony - Mozambique - is also its most problematic. Since 1964, more than 70,000 Portuguese troops have been fighting what amounts to full-scale war against the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO).

    The Portuguese have been in Mozambique since 1498. The territory is as large as Texas and has a 1,500-mile coastline, on which the ports of Biera and Lourenco Marques serve as vital outlets to Rhodesia, Malawi and South Africa's Transvaal province. The future of Mozambique is therefore of prime importance - particularly to Rhodesia.

    Mozambique is an important source of agricultural products for Portugal itself and is potentially rich in mineral resources.

    Guerilla activities in recent weeks have included the raiding of white settlements, blowing up bridges, ming roads and machine-gunning buses. The effect has been far more and more of the country's 200,000 Europeans to leave, bringing Mozambique the threat of economical collapse.

    Portugal has been in Africa for five centuries, but there are strong indications that it may not endure there for even another five years.

    SYNOPSIS: Portugal's fight to hold its African colonies is over - at least no one front. Here in Portuguese Guinea, the nationalist guerrillas who have been fighting for more than a decade for independence, have won the day. On Sunday (August 4) it was announced in Lisbon that Portugal will grant them independence immediately.

    In truth, the fight was over long ago. Ninety nations already recognise this as the independent state of Guinea-Bissau.

    But what of Portugal's other colonies? Luanda, capital of Angola, is indicative of Portugal's investment in the territory. Rich in iron ore, diamonds, coffee and oil, Angola is a jewel in Portugal's colonial crown...and once which she will be reluctant to give up.

    But guerilla forces - led by men like Dr. Agostinho Neto - will have been encouraged by the success of Guinea-Bissau. In recent weeks, they have stepped up their campaign - blowing up railway lines and engaging Portuguese troops in many isolated areas. Although political rivalries have weekend them, they have been fighting for fourteen years for Angolan independence, and can now sense success.

    Men like Dr. Neto speak for six million Africans -- and Portugal will, in the end have to listen.

    For Portugal, the cost of clinging to Africa has been high. Here in Mozambique, some 70,000 Portuguese troops fight a full-scale war against the nationalists of Frelino.

    The Portuguese have been here for almost 500 years, but they are surely losing the struggle to stay, for those opposed to them are powerful and well-organised.

    Mozambique supplies food to Portugal and has important mineral resources. It also has the Cabora Bassa dam, second-largest hydro-electric complex in Africa - and a prime target for Frelimo attacks. The Cabora Bassa is intended to supply electricity throughout the southern half of Africa including Rhodesia and South Africa itself.

    The port of Beira is a vital outlet for land-locked Rhodesia as well as for Malawi. The future of Mozambique therefore concerns the future of Rhodesia, since it has no other access to the outside world. This is still a white man's country but if Portugal were to withdraw, it would seriously affect what is let of white Africa.

    Frelimo is firmly entrenched in Mozambique. They control much of it and the Portuguese authorities appear to be losing the heart for the fight. While Frelimo soldiers salute their own flag, many Europeans are moving out of the country, threatening it with economic chaos. In the end, Portugal will have to come to terms with the independence of its colonies, as it has already been forced to do in Guinea-Bissau. Portugal has been in Africa for five centuries... but may not endure even for another five years.

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