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Wars of Southern Africa


An overview of the colonial wars, civil wars, and other conflicts in southern africa from 1899 to the present

The region of Southern Africa has a bloody history of wars against colonial and racist rule, as well as prolonged civil wars after independence. Many of the conflicts from the 1960s through the 1980s were strongly influenced by the Cold War between the Western Powers and the Soviet Union and its allies, in particular, the communist nation of Cuba, which sent thousands of combat troops to take part in the Angolan Civil War.
 Rhodesian Soldiers

Rhodesian Troops on Patrol in the Rhodesian Bush War

The Second Boer War (1899-1902)--Britain vs. The Boer Republics (Orange Free State and Transvaal) in what is now South Africa.

Mozambican Revolts (1895-1899) - Native uprisings against Portuguese colonial rule in Mozambique.

Madagascar Rebellion (1947)-Against French rule. France crushed the revolt.

South African Civil War (1960-1994)--Black nationalist rebels fought against the white-ruled apartheid government of South Africa. The 1994 election ended white minority rule and began the period of majority rule.

Angolan War of Independence (1961-1975)- Fought against Portugal.

Mozambican War of Independence (1964-1975)- Fought against Portugal.

Namibian War of Independence (1966-1990)

Rhodesian Civil War (1967-1979)- Can also be considered the Zimbabwe War of Independence. Rebels of the black majority fought a guerilla war against the white minority government of Ian Smith. Smith had declared unilateral independence from Britain rather than end white rule. The war concluded with a peace agreement in which each adult received the right to vote regardless of race.

Angolan Civil War (1975-2002)- Following independence from Portugal, the two primary rebel groups, the Marxist MPLA and the "pro-Western" UNITA movements battled for control of Angola. Each side received significant outside assistance. The MPLA enjoyed massive aid from the Soviet Union as well as combat troops from Cuba. Early in the conflict, Zaire sent troops to aid UNITA, while the United States (mostly through the Central Intelligence Agency) sent weapons and mercenaries. South Africa also aided UNITA with large cross-border incursions. South Africa's involvement came out of concern that a pro-Communist regime would aid SWAPO rebels fighting for Namibia's independence from South Africa. The war finally ended after the death of UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi.

Mozambican Civil War (1975-1992) - Also known as the "Renamo War." The Renamo rebel group attempted to overthrow the leftist government with aid from Rhodesia and South Africa. The fighting ended in 1992, with a formal peace treaty ending the war signed in 1994.

Caprivi Uprising [Namibia] (1999) - Rebels in the Caprivi region launched a guerrilla uprising against the Namibian government.


Links and Resources:

The Angolan civil war and US foreign policy

Crisis Mapping Angola

Angola's 25 Years of Civil War

Angola Diamond Mining and War

Mozambique's Sixteen-Year Bloody Civil War

Rhodesian Bush War Phtotographs - Military Photos

The Role of Airpower in the Rhodesian Bush War, 1965-1980




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