The Republic of Angola
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The Republic of Angola lies on the southwest coast of the continent of Africa. Early inhabitants include Bantu tribes before the arrival of the Portuguese in 1482. Except for a small period of Dutch occupation from 1641 to 1648, Angola was a Portuguese colony for more than five centuries beginning in the sixteenth century, an important trade link between Europe and the Far East. During the time of Portuguese colonization Angola served as a source of slaves for the sugar plantations of Brazil and other places across the Atlantic. An estimated 3 million people were enslaved during the colonial period. Throughout the 20th century approximately 400,000 Portuguese immigrated to Angola, which became an independent nation in 1975. Following independence the country was plagued by 20 years of civil war in which Soviet and Cuban influence dominated the political landscape.
Indigenous beliefs represent about half of the religious population while the Roman Catholic Church, because of the heavy influence of the Portuguese, makes up about 38% of the population. The remaining 15% represent other Protestant groups.
During the recent civil wars thousands of Angolans fled to neighboring countries, including the Congo, for safety and there many came to know Christ. When it was safe to return to Angola some of these émigrés returned as active church groups. They studied the Bible and came to see themselves as “Christians only.” An association was formed and they came to be known as the Church of Christ. As Angola is a socialist country the churches are required to be registered; the Church of Christ was officially recognized by the government in 1998. Consequently the Churches of Christ have a President, named Arao Dongoxie Pala Canda (2002). The Angolan churches soon learned of the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ in Brazil and Portugal, which share a common language and similar heritage with Angola, and made links with these countries. This partnership program has been in effect since 1986. To encourage the formation of their own national leadership three Angolan ministers were trained at the Bible College in Brazilia. In 1999 Phillip McAfee, missionary with the churches of Brazil, traveled to Angola to help establish a Bible College which in 2002 had 15 students.
Luanda is the capitol city of Angola and there are about 20 congregations in the city with a membership of 5,000. Churches of Christ are present in several provinces with a total membership of over 15,000.
White Fields Evangelism, under the direction of Reggie Thomas, together with Hasten International, began a church planting venture in October of 1995 that provided for a missionary from Zimbabwe, Vangana Dondo, to begin a work in Angola. These efforts led to the establishment of congregations which are able to be supported independent of outside aid.
American a cappella Churches of Christ have also had a presence in Angola. At one time a group of Christians worshipped at the Osire Refugee Camp be present status is unknown. Roger Dickson and others of South Africa distributed Portuguese Bibles. In 1992 an Angolan preacher working in Portugal, Santos Andre-Odete, visited Angola and met with government officials about beginning a congregation but again, present status is unknown. Some work was also done among Angolan refugees in neighboring Zambia.
The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada began providing financial support in 1992 to the Evangelical Congregational Church of Angola and Council of Christian Churches of Angola.
Clinton J. Holloway
National Profiles Editor