When intelligent youth in Angola were potential terrorists: Angolan Veteran recalls the influence of the youth in the path to Independence ‘Jovens da Banda’.
Until now, the Angolan youth recognizes three distinct times. They have ever since before the independence always shown willingness to participate in the fundamental acts of the country, especially through arts, cultural and sports association.
To better help us understand the history behind this struggle of the Angolan youth, Jovens da Banda interviewed an influential voice, one of the few with the right to strongly address the Angolan youth panorama from a neutral perspective; the economist and academic Justino Pinto de Andrade.
For the professor, during the era of colonial oppression many young people were engaged in music, for example, with a social intervention outlook seeking transformation, “although there were those who did for the sake of doing.” Through music, it was denounced, above all, the oppressions and the social injustice. To mention that not all Angolans became involved in the revolution process; “There were the conformed ones as well, that thought there was nothing to change”.
In the scientific field, at that time, every Angolan knew that the more knowledge they had, the better prepared they would be to face the situation that was being lived in the country, hence the reason why the older individuals and those who were in charge influenced and supported the younger generation to invest in their studies. The good students were recognized and respected in such a way that the colonial authorities had the dilemma that was on the one hand to provide training and on the other, whilst knowing that by providing it, they were simultaneously creating their opponents, due to the fact that it was thought that “intelligent youth were potential terrorists.”
“It’s worth to tell to young people that this process of social transformation always had propellants” professor Justino warned, “over the years I have never being a spectator but a performer, I have never been surprised by the way history took its course because I was always part of it.”
In the 60s, the kind of interventions that younger generations had were interesting because “we were few,” a small but united group where the idea and the ideology of freedom reigned. The fight was against the colonial regime since the opponent was easily identified for its physical features, “but after the independence we all stayed in the same place, then the revolution appeared with a different character, us against ourselves, within our families where affection and blood became involved. “We fought just because we started to have different conceptions,” lamented the professor, for whom “the opponents today were once old comrades”. This dynamic crawled to the present in a way that some impose the type of society refused by others.
On the benefits that proportionally should’ve brought to young people, the economist consolidates that in our society there are always those who integrate better than others, however, he states that the Angolan society is unfair because it protects those who are unable and chases the individuals with capability and potential. “There is a lot of young people appearing with suits and ties driving extravagant cars as if they
are successful individuals but the truth is that they are only doing it because of their parents’ wealth. While there are others dedicated and willing to work who cannot find any opportunities. Our society draws limits to the less fortunate that many times are unjustly humiliated; it is a society that excludes and eliminates them.”
For the academic, the authorities try to find pretexts to cover the laxity over young people skills and he raises the matter that in the 50s and 60s, a person with the fourth grade had access to employment and with eight years of schooling had some social distinction in the army, employment and sports areas. There were a few people with higher education but the opportunities were vast at all levels and people were constantly busy. There were vacancies in economic and social activities for people to fit and it didn’t require higher education. “Today we have schools, universities but the question is: where are the jobs? Thousands of people complete higher education every year. We are creating unemployed doctors.” He emphasized that he always receives graduated people who ask to get a job and he exclaims: “It means that these are in worse conditions than their parents who used to work only with a fourth grade certificate!”
The professor explained that most of these graduates are children of people who had the fourth grade but his parents or grandparents didn’t wander, they worked, they had an income and did not humiliate themselves, which is the opposite of today and concludes that “when by comparing we say that we are better today because we have universities that we hadn’t before, we are comparing incomparable matters because these are distinct development levels. Unlike today the society from 50 years ago had industries, agriculture, trade, services and people fitted within.” He warned that civil engineers are starting to appear as a result of the investments that are being made because of the national reconstruction process. “Workers linked to foreign companies doing precarious work, only keep their jobs while buildings are still under construction and that’s the reason why many construction works took longer than expected to be concluded while some don’t even finish…, it’s in order to maintain the workers job, therefore the longer it takes, the better for them.”
The professor, who is also a political leader, considers pacific the decisions of young people who are expressing publicly and collectively their worries, with the intent of calling to their favour their own rights.
He reveals that there have always been protests, “when we took up weapons and decided to transform the colonial situation with violence we were protesting. We didn’t have other tools which were more effective. As of today young people go out to the streets to pacifically protest since they don’t have another way to outcry. All they want is to speed up the process without weapons but still, the weapons are used against them.”
Justino Pinto de Andrade, an economist, political leader and professor at the Catholic University of Angola, was arrested in late 1969, as a student, under the accusation of belonging to the MPLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola). He was sent for simple administrative measures to Tarrafal and would only leave on the date of the camp liberation by May 1, 1974.
Written by: Pihia Rodrigues
Source: Jovens da Banda, Translation: Luaia gomes Pereira
Images are by: Rede Angola