My Years in Angola (1950-1970)
Andries Pieter van der Graaf
By 1962, Portugal started to get over the 1961 scare, and Adriano Moreira, Minister for the Ultramar, was working on the Lei Orgânica do Ultramar, which was to lead to the creation of a Common Market for the Portuguese territories. Work was also being done on the Statute for the Indigenous People, which was to grant them more rights.
Governor Deslandes (1) ran up against friction with Lisbon, where people felt that he wanted to govern in too autonomous a fashion.
Governor Venâncio Augusto Deslandes and Andries Pieter van der Graaf
Economic activity took off. In Portugal itself there was now far more interest in Angola's economic potential, and in the following years many government projects were started, such as building roads, airports, schools, hospitals, and so forth. The government also became interested in oil production and iron-ore mining. Industry, fisheries, and tourism all began to be given more attention.
Loading lorry Casa Holandesa/Zuid Afrikaans Handelshuis (ZAH)
Coffee exports got going again, and some years later production reached around 200.000 tons. The services of the Instituto do Café (formerly Junta do Café) were improved, and it became an institution guaranteeing the quality of exported coffee.
Fazenda Sofia, Cuanza-Sul
Sociedade Agrícola e Comercial Luís Henriques Moutinho S.A.R.L.
Fazenda Sofia, Angola (2)
Commercial banks in Portugal also began to show an interest. Up until then, the Banco de Angola, as both issuer and commercial bank, held the monopoly. However, with the arrival of the Banco Comercial de Angola came an influx of Portuguese banks, followed by the English/Portuguese Banco Totta Standard de Angola.
In the meantime, Cabinda underwent a great change. The days when people called for the taxi (as there was only one) instead of a taxi, were over. Banks, shipping companies, and trading companies became established there. With the expansion of oil exploration, terrorist activities tailed off in that area. The interior of Cabinda, a tropical wilderness with various hard woods, including mahogany, was also once again accessible. From time to time the border between Cabinda and Congo was closed off due to political disturbances, but a lively smuggling business continued across the border, making Cabinda a good market for all sorts of products, and our travelling salesmen therefore sold a lot.
In the northern coffee regions, the terrorists were able to stand firm, though practically all the connecting roads were in Portuguese hands. Even on these roads, attacks took place on troop columns and convoys. To reach Carmona, in the centre of the coffee production area, the detour via Vila Salazar was still used.
Travel in the interior became progressively safer, and faster with the new asphalt roads. The asphalt road Luanda-Dondo-Quibala-Nova Lisboa-Lobito was completed, and links between Luanda and Lobito (600 km), and Luanda and Nova Lisboa (700 km) were excellent. Moçamedes got a railway link to the iron-ore mines, which had been almost completely taken over by the government. Railway equipment was delivered by Krupp, against payment in iron-ore deliveries over a number of years. A modern ore transfer harbour was built in Moçamedes.
In the meantime, disturbances were felt from Zambia, meaning that the eastern border areas to the north and south of the Benguela railway became dangerous. The eastern districts were very suited to terrorist activities: they were far away (some of them were called "terras do fim do mundo" (lands at the end of the world) and rich in cattle, especially red buffalo (pacaça) and various types of antelope. "Aldeamentos" (native housing regroupings) were set up in these areas in order to provide some protection for the population. The capitals remained accessible by Fokker Friendship or other airplanes.
A DTA Fokker F-27-200 at Benguela Airport in 1965.
* * *
On November 13, 1968, we received the longest telegram we had ever had in Luanda, with news of the merger between ZAH and CTC (Curaçao Trading Company, later Ceteco).
This was a completely unexpected development, and everyone was stunned. The Dutch staff was split in its opinion on the matter, the Portuguese as a whole were negative (the Portuguese version of "rather the devil you know, than the devil you don't" came up again and again), and I had my hands full trying to get everyone to see things from the bright side; after all, you never know what a good Portuguese worker will do when beset by doubts. Convincing some exceptionally good people to stay with the company, when they received offers from other companies, had been a constant concern before, and this might well have been "the last straw." But there were no mishaps.
A period of adjustment and new initiatives began, which it was interesting to be involved in. End January 1971 I handed business administration in Angola over to Mr. de Groot.
Farewell dinner. From left: De Groot, D. Augusta Neves e Sousa, A.P. van der Graaf and others.
It was a pleasure for me to be able to hand over a good, profitable business, with a staff that undoubtedly still had a lot of untapped potential. It is with great pleasure that I think back to the times when we worked together.
ZAH Luanda office staff, with A.P. van der Graaf (front row, 4th from the right), his wife Joyce, and Chargois (HQ)
Knighted by Queen Juliana (Ridder in de Orde van Oranje-Nassau)
23 April 1968
Andries Pieter van der Graaf Jan/Feb 1974
Translated by Elizabeth Davies (van der Graaf) 2012
Andries Pieter van der Graaf and daughter Elizabeth (Betty), Angola 1968
Many thanks to Elizabeth Davies (van der Graaf) and her family for allowing me to adapt the text and to illustrate it by using photos from the family's collection.
Muito agradeço a Elizabeth Davies e sua família que autorizaram gentilmente a edição do texto para publicação neste blog e cederam fotografias do espólio do autor.
The memoir of Andries Pieter van der Graaf is in two parts: Part 1 (written in English) starts in 1909 with his birth, and provides a vivid description of his early life in Krimpen aan de Lek, a small community near Rotterdam; of the effects of the Depression on the family; and of his experiences during the war. In Part 2 (written in Dutch, translation into English provided), he takes us from his first day in Angola, through his years learning how to run a Dutch trading company in Angola in colonial times, to his fascination with Angola and its peoples.
Links to previous posts in this blog:
My Years in Angola (1950-1970)
My Years in Angola (2)
My Years in Angola (3)
My Years in Angola (4)
Link to photo album "Vintage Angola" on Flickr:
Venâncio Augusto Deslandes (1909 - 1985)
Not to be confused with his ancestor of the same name (V.A.D. 1829-1909) referred to several times in this blog.
Venâncio Augusto Deslandes (1909- 1985), Air Force General, Ambassador to Spain, Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Angola, Chief of Defence Staff.
General Deslandes took office while the UPA* terrorism crisis continued to devastate northern Angola. Once the situation was under control, and all the north reoccupied, General Deslandes launched a vast development plan for Angola, which included the creation of a university in Luanda. This initiative and the success of his administration met with strong resistance from the Minister of the Overseas, Adriano Moreira, who soon removed him from office. (In Memória da Nação and Wikipédia, excerpt translated by Elizabeth Davies)
*UPA – União dos Povos de Angola, founded in 1959, by Holden Roberto.
More on General Venâncio A. Deslandes in Memória de África
Venâncio Augusto Deslandes (1909 - 1985)
A não confundir com o seu antepassado do mesmo nome (V.A.D. 1829-1909) várias vezes referido neste blog.
Venâncio Augusto Deslandes (1909-1985) General da Força Aérea, Embaixador em Espanha, Governador Geral e Comandante-Chefe das FA de Angola, Chefe do Estado Maior General das Forças Armadas.
O General Deslandes assumiu funções quando o terrorismo da UPA* assolava ainda o Norte de Angola. Controlada a situação, e concluída a reocupação de todo o Norte, o General Deslandes lançou um vasto plano de fomento para Angola que incluia a criação de uma Universidade em Luanda. O sucesso da sua administração e a sua iniciativa encontraram forte resistência no Ministro do Ultramar, Adriano Moreira, que rapidamente o demitiu. (Fontes: Memória da Nação e Wikipédia)
*UPA – União dos Povos de Angola, fundada em 1959, por Holden Roberto.
Mais sobre o General Venâncio A. Deslandes em Memória de África
Fazenda Sofia: Many thanks to Sofia and Fernando Luís Plácido de Abreu.
DTA Folker: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TAAG_Angola_Airlines