Portal:Military history of Africa/Selected biography

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Selected biography

Samora Moisés Machel (September 29, 1933 – October 19, 1986) was President of Mozambique from 1975 until he died eleven years later, when his presidential aircraft crashed in mountainous terrain where the borders of Mozambique, Swaziland and South Africa converge.

Machel was attracted to Marxist ideals and began his political activities in a hospital where he protested against the fact that black nurses were paid less than whites doing the same job. He later told a reporter how bad medical treatment was for Mozambique's poor: "The rich man's dog gets more in the way of vaccination, medicine and medical care than do the workers upon whom the rich man's wealth is built." His grandparents and great grandparents had fought against Portuguese colonial rule in the 19th century so it was not surprising that in 1962 Machel joined the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO) which was dedicated to creating an independent Mozambique. He received military training in 1963 elsewhere in Africa, and returned in 1964 to lead FRELIMO's first guerrilla attack against the Portuguese in northern Mozambique. By 1970, Machel had become commander-in-chief of the FRELIMO army which had already established itself among Mozambique's peasantry. His most important goal, he said, was to get the people "to understand how to turn the armed struggle into a revolution" and to realize how essential it was "to create a new mentality to build a new society."

Jonas Malheiro Savimbi (August 3, 1934–February 22, 2002) was a rebel leader in Angola who founded the UNITA movement in 1966, and ultimately proved a central figure in 20th century Cold War politics.

With support from the governments of the United States, China, South Africa, Israel,[1] several African leaders (Félix Houphouët-Boigny of Côte d'Ivoire, Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire,[2] King Hassan II of Morocco and Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia), and (reportedly) foreign mercenaries from Portugal, Israel, South Africa, and France[3] Savimbi spent much of his life battling Angola's Marxist-inspired government, which was supported by weapons and military advisors from the Soviet Union, Cuba, and Nicaragua[4] (under the Sandinistas).


  1. ^ Angola: A Country Study
  2. ^ However, Mobutu has always personally denied this. See Blaine Harden, Africa: Dispatches from a Fragile Continent, p. 51, and Sean Kelly, America's Tyrant: The CIA and Mobutu of Zaire, p. 4
  3. ^ Angola: A Country Study
  4. ^ Nicaragua Betrayed, by Anastasio Somoza and Jack Cox, backflap

Kaúlza de Arriaga (January 18, 1915 - February 3, 2004) was a Portuguese Brigadier General, writer, professor and politician. He was minister of National Defense between 1953 and 1955 and he was commander of the Terrestrial Forces in Moçambique from 1969 until 1974 during the Mozambican War of Independence.

Arriaga completed a course in mathematics and engineering and then volunteered for the Portuguese Army on November 1, 1935. He took a Military and Civil Engineering course in the Military Academy which he graduated from in 1939, and was assigned to the general staff of the Portuguese Institute of Military Studies. Here he petitioned for reforms to the conscription system, as well as training and the integration of paratroopers into the Portuguese Air Force. Arriaga commanded the Portuguese forces in the Mozambican conflict from 1969 until 1974, taking over from General Augusto dos Santos and organising the ill-fated Operation Knot Górdio in 1970.

Arrigaga took a decisive role in the Carnation Revolution of April 25, 1974 in Lisbon. he held a number of political positions during the unrest, including Head of the Ministry of Defense Cabinet, Undersecretary of State for Aeronautics, professor of the Institute of High Military Studies, president of the Nuclear Energy commission and executive president of the oil company Angol SA. he was president of an extremely right wing political party during elections in 1980.

Joseph Kabila Kabange (born June 4, 1971), known commonly as Joseph Kabila, became president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo after the assassination of his father in January 2001. On November 27, 2006, he was confirmed as the first Congolese President to be democratically elected by universal direct suffrage.

In order to integrate his father's rebel forces, Joseph Kabila followed a military curriculum in Tanzania, and in the neighbouring countries of Uganda and Rwanda, after graduating from high school. In 1996, he joined his father's Rwandan backed rebel forces (the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo, (AFDL)), as operations commander, in the campaign that is dubbed the First Congo War. Following the AFDL's victory, and Laurent Kabila's rise to the presidency, Joseph Kabila went on to get further training at the National Defense University, in Beijing, China.

When he returned from China, Kabila was given the rank of Major-General, and appointed Deputy-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Congolese Armed Forces, in 1998. He was later, in 2000, appointed Army Chief of Staff, a position he held until the elder President Kabila's assassination in January 2001. As chief of staff, he was one of the main military leaders in charge of Government troops in the Second Congo War.

Abd el-Krim (c.1882, Ajdir –February 6, 1963, Cairo) (Amazigh: Abdelkrim El Khattabi en amazigh.jpg Mulay Abdelkrim, full name: Muhammad Ibn 'Abd al-Karim al-Khattabi , (Arabic: محمد بن عبد الكريم الخطابي‎‎) was the Berber leader of the Rif, a Berber area of northeastern Morocco. He became the leader of a wide scale armed resistance movement against French and Spanish colonial rule in North Africa. His guerilla tactics are known to have inspired Ho Chi Minh, Mao Zedong, and Che Guevara.

In 1921, as a by-product of their efforts to destroy the power of a local brigand, Raisuli, Spanish troops approached the unoccupied areas of the Rif. Abd-el-Krim sent their General, Manuel Fernández Silvestre, a warning that if they crossed the Amekran River he would consider it an act of war. Silvestre is said to have laughed, and shortly afterwards set up a military post across the river at Abarán. By mid-afternoon of the same day a thousand Rifains had surrounded it; 179 Spanish troops were killed, and the remainder were forced to retreat. Soon afterwards, Abd el-Krim directed his forces to attack the Spanish lines, with great success — in three weeks 8,000 Spanish troops were killed, and at Annual an army of 13,000 was forced to retreat by only 3,000 Rifains. Shortly after the battle, General Silvestre committed suicide. This colossal victory established Abdelkrim as a genius of guerilla warfare.


`Abd al-Qādir al-Jazā'irī (6 September 1808 - 26 May 1883, in Arabic عبد القادر الجزائري) was an Algerian Islamic scholar, Sufi, political and military leader who led a struggle against the French invasion in the mid-nineteenth century, for which he is seen by the Algerians as their national hero.

In 1830, Algeria was invaded by France; French colonial domination over Algeria supplanted what had been domination in name only by the Ottoman Empire. Within two years, `Abd al-Qādir was made an amir and with the loyalty of a number of tribes began a rebellion against the French. He was effective at using guerrilla warfare and for a decade, up until 1842, scored many victories. He often signed tactical truces with the French, but these did not last. His power base was in the western part of Algeria, where he was successful in uniting the tribes against the French. He was noted for his chivalry; at one occasion released his French captives simply because he had insufficient food to feed them.

To the beginning of 1842 the contest went in favour of the amir; thereafter he found in Marshal Bugeaud an opponent who proved, in the end, his master. Bugeaud used violent methods, including scorched earth policy. Throughout this period Abd-el-Kader showed himself a born leader of men, a great soldier, a capable administrator, a persuasive orator, a chivalrous opponent. His fervent faith in the doctrines of Islam was unquestioned, and his ultimate failure was due in considerable measure to the refusal of the Kabyles, Berber mountain tribes whose Islam is somewhat loosely held, to make common cause with the Arabs against the French.