Childhood & Early Life
José Eduardo dos Santos was born to Avelino and his wife Jacinta Paulino, on August 28, 1942, in the Sambizanga district of Luanda, Angola. His parents were refugees from the island of São Tomé and Príncipe in the Gulf of Guinea.
Having received elementary education in Luanda, he pursued his secondary education from 'Liceu Salvador Correia', which is now known as ‘Mutu ya Kevela’.
While still in school, the young boy became a member of the political party 'People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola'. During the same period, the Portuguese were ruling the country, and owing to their suppression, José had to seek refuge in the neighbouring Republic of the Congo.
From Congo, he relocated to the Soviet Union, and in 1969, he graduated in radar communications and in petroleum engineering from the 'Azerbaijan Oil and Chemistry Institute' in the Republic of Azerbaijan.
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In 1970, Santos came back to Angola, and re-joined the guerrilla troops of 'People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola' ('MPLA'). This branch of 'MPLA' was called the 'People's Armed Forces for the Liberation of Angola' ('FAPLA').
He served as the radio transmitter of 'FAPLA', in the Cabinda Province, and four years later he was made sub-commander of the region's telecom branch.
As a representative of 'MPLA', he travelled to Congo, Yugoslavia, and China, subsequently becoming a member of the 'Central Committee' and 'Politburo' of the MPLA, in Moxico, Angola.
In 1975, José took over the administration of 'Department of Foreign Affairs' and the 'Department of Health', belonging to the 'MPLA'. When Angola attained freedom from the Portuguese rule, the 'MPLA' came into power.
However a civil war broke out, led by the opposition parties 'National Union for the Total Independence of Angola' ('UNITA') and 'National Liberation Front of Angola' ('FNLA').
The political leader became the first Minister of Foreign Affairs of Angola, in 1975, and three years later he was appointed as the Minister of Planning.
On September 10, 1979, José became the President of the 'MPLA', and ten days later, he was sworn in as the President of Angola. During the same period, he was also made the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
The next year, November 9, 1980, the President was appointed as the speaker of the ‘People's Assembly’.
In the 1992 presidential elections, the President of Angola defeated his opposition candidate Jonas Savimbi. However, a second round of elections was held since neither had received 50% votes.
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The elections were believed to have been rigged, and innumerable protestors were killed by the 'MPLA' army. This three-day war resulting in the death of protestors came to be known as the 'Halloween Massacre'.
Following the massacre, Savimbi gave up the elections to join the on-going civil war, and Santos continued to serve as the President of the country.
In 2001, the President declared his decision to retire from the post after the next elections. Two years later, he was once again appointed as the President of 'MPLA', and no subsequent elections were held.
In the legislative elections of 2008, 'MPLA' won by a majority, and set about preparing a new constitution. According to the amendments made, the head of the political party that wins most number of seats in the Parliament would be appointed as the President.
The President co-founded the 'African Countries Diamond Producers Association' in November 2006, with the aim of helping in the growth of foreign investment in the diamond industry of almost twenty African countries.
When the 'MPLA' won most of the seats in the 2012 parliamentary elections, José remained in office, according to the rules of the new constitution.
During his political career, this President has also faced controversy, where he has been accused of building up his wealth at the cost of the standard of living of citizens of Angola. When the Parliament prohibited the President from investing in companies, the political leader made his daughter plough money instead.
Personal Life & Legacy
The President has been married thrice, and has six children. Presently, he is married to Ana Paula dos Santos, who used to be a fashion model and airhostess of the Angolan presidential aircraft.
Amongst his children, the most famous are José Filomeno, a son with second wife Luísa Perdigão Abrantes, and Isabel, daughter of his first wife Tatiana Kukanova. Isabel is one of the richest businesswomen in Africa and Filomeno is the Chairman of Angola’s monetary fund.
In 2014, Patrício Batsîkam, an Angolan historian published a book, 'José Eduardo dos Santos e a ideia da Nação Angolana' ('José Eduardo dos Santos and the idea of the Angolan Nation'), delving into the regime of the President.