Portal:Military history of Africa

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The Military history of Africa Portal

Tapestry of the Battle of Adwa between Ethiopia and Italy.

The military history of Africa is one of the oldest military histories in the world. Africa is a continent of many regions with diverse populations speaking hundreds of different languages and practicing an array of cultures and religions. These differences have also been the source of much conflict since a millennia.

Like the history of Africa, military history on the continent is often divided by region. North Africa was part of the Mediterranean cultures and was integral to the military history of classical antiquity. The military history of modern Africa may be divided into three broad time periods: pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial.

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The Mozambican War of Independence, (clockwise from top left); a Portuguese supply convoy traverses the countryside; a foot patrol of Portuguese soldiers in the forest through which the insurgents were difficult to track; Portuguese troops embark surface ships on their way to Africa; a heavily armed Portuguese armoured column

The Mozambican War of Independence was an armed conflict between the Mozambique Liberation Front or FRELIMO (Frente de Libertação de Moçambique), and Portugal. The war officially started on September 25, 1964, and ended with a cease fire on September 8, 1974, resulting in a negotiated independence in 1975.

The conflict was a result of unrest and frustration amongst the indigenous Mozambican population, who perceived foreign rule to be a form of exploitation and mistreatment, which served only to further Portuguese economic interests in the region. Many Mozambicans also resented Portugal's policies towards indigenous people, which included denying locals access to fundamental education and employment. As successful self-determination movements spread throughout Africa after World War II, many Mozambicans became progressively nationalistic in outlook, and increasingly frustrated by the nation's continued subservience to foreign rule.

A mass exile of Mozambique's political intelligentsia to neighbouring countries provided havens from which radical Mozambicans could plan actions and foment political unrest in the home country. The formation of the Mozambican guerrilla organisation FRELIMO and the support of the Soviet Union, China and Cuba through arms and advisors, led to the outbreak of violence that was to last over a decade.

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."

Quotes

"During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die." — Nelson Mandela

Equipment

Bateleur UAV by Denel Aerospace Systems

The Bateleur (named for an African eagle) is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) prototype designed and built by Denel Aerospace Systems of South Africa (formerly Kentron). It has been designed as a MALE (Medium-Altitude - Long Endurance) UAV, with its primary role being surveillance, with a secondary SIGINT capability.

Development began at the beginning of 2004 as a totally in-house and private-venture project, being developed with internal company funds. The first prototype is expected to fly in early 2006.

The entire aircraft is constructed using a modular construction system, making adapting the airframe in future to increase the range or fit larger payloads much easier than with a rigid airframe. It also makes it possible for the aircraft, once disassembled, to fit inside a 6 m ISO shipping container.

Selected picture

An American Black Hawk helicopter over Mogadishu, Somalia in 1993.

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