The Untold Story of How Cotton Workers Sparked Angola's Fight for Independence

black woman holding a baby
Via Flickr
Adé Hennis
November 29, 2023

Cotton workers in Baixa de Cassanje, a kingdom in Angola, were tired of being mistreated, underpaid, and subject to violence. So they decided to take action.

In January 1961, the workers slowed down work intentionally, killed off the colonizer’s animals, and refused to pay taxes. One of Baixa de Cassanje’s biggest exports was cotton, and the workers knew they could use that to their advantage against Portuguese colonizers.

The workers continued to implement their plan of resistance by building road blockages, damaging buildings, destroying identification cards, and threatening to kill anyone who tried to force them to work.

Government officials initiated talks, but the workers didn’t want to hear it. The colonizers ended up showing their true colors and responding with violence, but that would only give birth to the Angola War where the country successfully ripped their right of independence from the Portuguese’s hands.

The Baixa de Cassanje revolt showed the power it held in affecting the colonizer's pockets, while also sparking a larger revolution for the independence of Angola. It’s a little-known moment in history that proves when unified, we can do great things, and improve life for our people.

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