Watershed Angola and Mozambique

The Portuguese Collapse in Africa 1974-1975, a Photo History

Wilf Nussey

Date Published :
November 2014
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Illustration :
300 b/w photos
No associated books available.


In the first quarter of 1974 the advance of African independence that began in Ghana in 1956 had ground to a halt in southern Africa. It had come up against a seemingly impenetrable wall of white and colonial rule: the Portuguese in Angola and Mozambique, the UDI regime in Rhodesia, South African rule in South West Africa (Namibia), and the apartheid government in South Africa itself. And then, on April 25, 1974, the wall cracked. A coup d’état overthrew Portugal’s dictatorship. Portuguese defense against the guerrilla movements in their colonies collapsed. In the next nineteen months Angola and Mozambique fell into bloody anarchy from which emerged tottering new regimes struggling to survive their own civil wars.

Rhodesia was suddenly naked to attack through Mozambique and South West Africa from Angola. Abruptly southern Africa became a Cold War hot zone involving South African and Cuban forces. But the future was clear: this was the beginning of the end for white rule. It came five years later in Rhodesia and fifteen in Namibia and South Africa. The trigger – the transition of the Portuguese colonies to self-rule – was captured in extraordinary detail by photographers of the Argus Africa News Service, a small, highly professional South African agency. These have been compiled here by its then editor, Wilf Nussey, who wrote the accompanying text.

About The Author

Wilf Nussey spent much of his youth in the Lowveld. He was a full-time journalist for forty years, all but four in Africa, most as a foreign correspondent, first for British newspapers during the Mau Mau conflict, later as reporter and for thirteen years editor with the Argus Africa News Service, created by the Argus Group to bring Africa news to South African readers. His assignments took him to many corners of Africa and frequently into conflicts, although he dismisses the appellation ‘war correspondent’ as flamboyant. He specialized in southern Africa while directing reporters in several bureaux in East, West and Central Africa, being particularly close to events in Mozambique and Angola. After retiring, he returned to the Lowveld to spin his tales from his favourite corner of Africa. He now lives in the Cape and writes books.

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