Angolans took up arms, songs simultaneously
The first recording of Angola freedom songs was done in 1962; a year after the Union People’s of Angola (UPA) had embarked on an armed struggle against Portuguese occupation.
Sixteen songs were compiled in an album titled “UPA Fighters”. These songs spelt out the anger against Portuguese oppression, aspirations and the desires for self-rule.
A bit of Angolan armed struggle history will do here. UPA was the successor of the Union of the Peoples of the North of Angola (UPNA) that was founded in 1954 by Angolans who had fled their country to seek refuge in the then Belgian Congo.
UPA was born in 1958 when all Angolans joined hands to create a solid front to take on the Portuguese.
In 1962, UPA merged with PDA to become the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA), which was recognised by the Organisation of African Unity as the legitimate political front.
Just like other political movements, FNLA has its armed wing called the People’s Army for the Liberation of Angola (ELNA).
There was something about liberation war songs all over the region.
Because of the pain people felt and the similarities in the treatment given to blacks, Umkhonto WeSizwe songs sounded the same.
This was the same with Zanla choirs and many others.
Most of the songs contained on the album were recorded in the bush at the height of the war.
They were meant to create awareness on the importance of fighting the Portuguese.
Most often the songs were historical as shown by the lyrics of the song “When We Were Born”: When we were born / We found Angola under Portuguese rule / We know now it belongs to us. On the compilation albums are “Kumpwaza”, “You Who Do Not Believe”, “When We Were Born”, “Portuguese, Go Away”, “Do You Know Christ’s Name”, “Portuguese Are Arrested”, “We Do Not Want to be Governed”, “Don’t Be Afraid”, “We Are Going to Fight”, “The Country Belongs to Us”, “Angolans Who Want Freedom”, “Rallying Cry”, “Bugle Alarm Call”, “I Want to be a Soldier”, “World’s Saviour is Knocking” and “Eye Witness Account”.
Some of these songs such as “Do You Know Christ’s Name” and “World’s Saviour is Knocking” called on divine power for help while others like “Don’t Be Afraid”, “We Are Going to Fight”, “The Country Belongs to Us” and “Rallying Cry” were meant to encourage and inspire the youth to join in the fight.
A second recording titled “Singing in the Bush” by the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) done in northern Namibia carries songs which also exhorted the youth to take up arms.
Among the songs sourced from more than 90 people are songs titled “Burn the Portuguese”, “Drive Out the Portuguese” and “Let (Patrice) Lumumba Stay”.
In fact, the MPLA’s anthem was defiant and certain about driving out the Portuguese and attaining independence for Angola.
Some of the anthem’s lyrics went like: Our voice for Angola echoes/ And drives away the tyranny/ MPLA victory or death/ For all the people will attack/ The heroes break the handcuffs/ To defeat colonialism/ And create a new Angola.