For this week's show, Rania Khalek and Kevin Gosztola present a conversation that was recorded several months ago on Angola history: Portuguese colonialism, Black anti-colonial resistance, United States imperialism, and the way in which this history reverberates during President Donald Trump's administration.
"Unauthorized Disclosure" welcomed two guests: Prexy Nesbitt, who is a presidential fellow at the Peace Studies Department at Chapman University in Orange County, California where he teaches Southern African History, and Marissa Moorman, who is the author of the book, Powerful Frequencies: Radio, State Power, and the Cold War in Angola, 1931-2002.
Prexy was one of Kevin's professors in college, and he wanted to introduce some more people to the history of southern African countries. (Plus, Kevin attributes a significant part of his political awakening in college to Prexy.)
Our conversation begins with Marissa, who provides a brief background on Portuguese colonialism in Angola and the rise of black Angolan resistance that ignited a struggle for independence.
We pay particular attention to Jonas Savimbi, who was the militant leader of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). Savimbi sought support from the U.S. government, and the government was willing to provide support during the Cold War because they believed Angola was a crucial battleground in the fight against the Soviet Union.
The Clark Amendment was repealed in 1985, which removed a prohibition to providing covert or overt U.S. assistance to militant groups in Angola. It was the result of a lobbying effort by conservative organizations like the Conservative Caucus, the Heritage Foundation, and the American Security Council, as well as Senator Jesse Helms, Representative Jack Kemp, and Representative Claude Pepper.
Savimbi was promoted as the leader of "true anti-communist freedom fighters." The militant leader even traveled to the United States in 1985 and hired a publicity firm called Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly for $600,000/year. It was tied to President Ronald Reagan, and one of the partners at the firm was Paul Manafort. The firm was largely successful. Reagan said during the tour, "We want to be very helpful to what Dr. Savimbi and his people are tying to do."
Later, Marissa and Prexy talk about the civil rights movement and solidarity work with struggles against colonialism in southern Africa. They address how developments in Angola led to fractures in organizing, including among Black activists.
We really have not done a show on this part of the world before so we're proud to share this conversation with you.