Agostinho Neto was the first President of the People’s Republic of Angola and a well-known writer. In 1975, he helped his country break away from Portugal and become independent. As a revolutionary, he led a number of freedom movements to help Angola get rid of the cruel Portuguese colonial government. He secretly got involved in politics while he was in Portugal getting his medical degree because he was determined to help his people live free lives. As a leader of protests against colonial rule, he was arrested and sent to prison for several years. He became a member of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (PMLA) (MPLA). Aside from politics, he became a well-respected poet and a successful doctor. His writings were about wanting to be free and were published in both Angolan and Portuguese magazines. Because of all of these things, he has the right to be called “the father of modern Angola.” National Heroes Day, which is held on his birthday, is a public holiday in Angola.
Early years and childhood
Antonio Agostinho Neto was born on September 17, 1922, in Icolo e Bengo, Bengo province, Angola. He was the son of a Methodist pastor, Agostinho Neto, and a kindergarten teacher, Mary d Silva Neto.
In 1944, he finished high school at Liceu Salvador Correia in Luanda and went to work for the Portuguese Colonial Health Service.
With the help of a scholarship from a US Methodist Church, he went to Portugal in 1947 to study medicine at the University of Lisbon and then at the University of Coimbra. He focused on gynecology.
Agostinho Neto’s Career
While he was a student in Lisbon, he met and became friends with Amilcar Cabral and Marcelino dos Santos, both of whom went on to become politicians. He also secretly took part in political activities.
In order to fight against Prime Minister Salazar’s dictatorial rule in Portugal, he started the Anti-Colonial Movement, an African cultural group.
In 1948, he published his first book of poems. Soon after, he was arrested three times by PIDE for protesting the Portuguese rule over Angola. In 1951, he was sent to prison for seven years.
In 1956, when the Angolan Communist Party (PCA) and the Party of the United Struggle for Africans in Angola (PLUA) merged, he joined the new Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA).
He was let out of prison in 1958 and finished his medical schooling. In 1959, after he got his degree, he went back to Angola and opened a private medical center.
In 1960, the Portuguese government arrested him because he was against their colonial rule. This led to the Massacre of Icolo e Bengo, where 30 patients and supporters were killed and 200 were hurt when the Portuguese police opened fire.
He was arrested and sent to Cape Verde for two years as a punishment. After that, he was sent to jail in Lisbon. In 1962, he was freed and put under house arrest because of pressure from his supporters and the rest of the world.
He finished writing his second book of poems while he was in jail in Lisbon. He and his family got away from being put under house arrest and went to Morocco. He moved to Leopoldville, Zaire, from there.
He spent the next couple of months traveling around Europe, the Soviet Union, and other African countries to find support for a liberation war against Portuguese imperialism.
In 1962, he went to Washington, DC, to ask the Kennedy administration for help. However, his request was turned down because the US had oil interests in colonial Angola. Instead, in 1965, he began to get help from Cuba and the Soviet Union.
During the Carnation Revolution in 1974, a military coup got rid of Marcelo Caetano’s dictatorship. Neto used this time to talk with Portugal about Angola’s independence.
On November 11, 1975, Angola became a free country. With help from Cuba, the MPLA, which Neto was a part of, was able to take over the central part of Angola, including the city of Luanda.
Under his rule, he became close with the Soviet Union, communist countries like Cuba, and countries in the Eastern bloc, but he still let the Western World invest in Angola’s oil production.
The Agostinho Neto University is a public university in Luanda, Angola. It was re-founded in 1975 when two universities merged. Neto was the first Rector of the new university.
In December 1975, he was one of the first people to join the Angolan Writers Union. Until he died, he was the President of its General Assembly.
At the 6th Conference of African-Asian Writers, which took place from June 26 to July 3, 1979, he was in charge of the closing ceremony and gave the closing speech.
He was a nationalist leader, but he was also a well-known doctor and poet. During his life, he wrote three books, which were translated into many languages and some of which became liberation anthems.
His Works of note
While he was still in exile, he joined the Angolan Liberation Movement. In 1962, he became President of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA).
In 1975, after his party MPLA beat the other two political parties and made Angola a one-party state, he became the first president of the country.
Awards & Achievements
At the 4th Conference of African-Asian Writers, which was held in 1970, he won the Lotus Prize.
The government of the Soviet Union gave him the Lenin Peace Prize after he had died. This was between 1975 and 1976.
Personal History and Legacies
After he finished medical school in 1958, he married a white Portuguese woman named Maria Eugenia da Silva. They had a son named Mario Jorge Neto in 1958 and a daughter named Irene Alexandra (1961).
He went to Moscow in 1979 to get treatment for pancreatic cancer and cirrhosis of the liver. But he died during surgery on September 10, when he was 56 years old, just seven days before he would have turned 57.
His birthday is a public holiday in Angola and is known as National Heroes Day.
As a way to honor this important person, Chinua Achebe wrote the poem “Agostinho Neto.”
Hospital Agostinho Neto (HAN), the best hospital in Praia, the capital of Cape Verde, is named after him. An airport and a morna in Cape Verde are also named after him.
Estimated Net worth
Agostinho is on the list of the most popular and wealthiest World Leader. Based on what we know and what Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider say, Agostinho Neto’s net worth is about $5 million.