Mario Pinto de Andrade, the father of Angolan nationalism and first president of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, which has ruled the southwest African country since independence in 1975, died Sunday in London. He was 62.
A spokesman for University Hospital said Pinto de Andrade died of a chronic disease.
A writer and historian, Pinto de Andrade was one of Angola’s leading intellectuals, active in the country’s struggle against Portuguese colonial rule and a critic of the single-party state that followed it.
Pinto de Andrade was born Aug. 21, 1928, in Golungo-Alto, Angola. He studied in Portugal and published a book on poetry in the 1950s before starting his long exile in various African countries.
Along with other Angolan nationalists in exile, he founded the leftist MPLA and was elected its president in 1960.
Four years later he gave up the MPLA leadership to future Angolan President Agostinho Neto, but remained active in the liberation movement.
He grew increasingly disillusioned with the MPLA’s authoritarian tendencies in the years before Angola’s independence and broke away in 1974 to form the so-called Active Revolt Front dissident movement.
Pinto de Andrade briefly returned to Luanda, Angola’s capital, in 1975 but chose self-exile in Guinea-Bissau, where he worked for the government in various posts, including commissioner of culture.
He later switched his base to Mozambique and traveled frequently to France, where he was writing a major work on Angolan nationalism at the Sorbonne.
In recent years both the ruling MPLA and the UNITA (National Union for the Total Independence of Angola) rebels fighting it since independence tried to court Pinto de Andrade.
Unlike his brother Joaquim, a fellow MPLA founder who remained in Angola to become a leading critic of the government, he came to disdain political activism and considered his main contribution to Angolan nationalism his documentation of its history.