Peace and Reconciliation Day: April 4
Peace and Reconciliation Day is a public holiday in Angola.
April 4 in Angola is celebrated as Peace and Reconciliation Day. It commemorates the signing of the agreement between the Angolan government and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola. (In Portuguese, it is commonly known as União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola in Portuguese [UNITA].) The agreement ended decades of civil war in Angola.
History of Peace and Reconciliation Day in Angola
Angola became independent from Portugal on November 11, 1975, after the coup in Lisbon that ended the dictatorial regime in Portugal. This action started a process of democratization in Angola and encouraged the push for independence in other colonies of Portugal.
After independence, Angola entered a dark period of a bloody civil war between Angola’s three main guerrilla groups: FNLA, MPLA, and UNITA. These armed groups quickly established controlled zones and spread violence to the whole country. Angola drew the attention of the United States and the Soviet Union, becoming a country where both superpowers controlled their own supported political groups. FNLA and UNITA sided with the United States, while the Soviet Union supported the MPLA.
MPLA had been the governing force in Angola since independence, while UNITA, led by Jonas Savimbi, had fiercely opposed the government until Savimbi’s death in February 2002. Soon, UNITA gave up its weapons and became the main opposition group in Angola. The cease fire was then formalized with a peace agreement that was signed by the government and UNITA on April 4, 2002.
Angola’s Peace and Reconciliation Day Traditions, Customs and Activities
Even though Angola still struggles to be at peace with its own history, April 4 is for the Angolan people a day of hope in the reconstruction of the country and consolidation of the peace process between the political parties. Organized cultural and sporting events are held across the country to celebrate this day. Especially anticipated are soccer events with the Angolan national team. Also in Luanda, capital of Angola, there are organized official events with the participation of the government and politicians. There are also religious services offered on this day for peace and harmony among brothers in Angola.