Jose Eduardo dos Santos was born August 28, 1942 in Luanda. His father, Eduardo Avelino dos Santos, was a retired mason, and his mother, Jacinta Jose Paulino, was a housewife. Both the parents are now dead.
J. E. dos Santos finished an elementary school in Luanda. He received his secondary education at the Salvador Correia National Lyceum. In early 1950s, while being a student of the lyceum, J. E. dos Santos started engaging in political activities. In that period, the national liberation movement in the country got a new impetus in connection with foundation of the party MPLA - National Movement for Liberation of Angola. J. E. dos Santos took an active part in the operations of underground groups that had been created in suburbs of Luanda.
The events of February 4, 1961 that marked the beginning of the armed struggle for national independence, led to a wave of the Portuguese colonizers' severe reprisals in respect of the African population of Luanda. The MPLA took the decision on changing their methods of struggle. Many young Angolans left the country for taking an active part in the armed struggle for independence.
On November 7, 1961, as a member of a group of seven youths, J. E. dos Santos abandoned the country secretly and went to Leopoldville in the Congo. Thanks to his exclusive personal abilities, at the age of only 20, J. E. dos Santos performed simultaneously the functions of the vice-chairman in the youth organization JMPLA, a founder of which he actually was, and the functions of the first MPLA representative in Brazzaville. In 1962 he came round to the view that armed struggle was the principal form of struggle against the colonial rule, and joined the EPLA (the MPLA's guerrilla organization).
In November 1963, as one of the MPLA's grant-aided students, he came to study in the USSR where he matriculated at the Baku Petroleum and Gas Institute. In June 1969 he received an oil industry engineer diploma.
When studying at the institute, J. E. dos Santos supervised the political work among Angolan students in the USSR, and then he headed the community of Angolan students in the Soviet Union. After presentation of his thesis, he was sent to a special military college in the USSR where he received training as a military signalman. The obtained skills allowed J. E. dos Santos to occupy the position of the Chief of the Northern Front's communication center in the period from 1970 to 1974. Later he was Deputy Chief of the Communication Service of the MPLA's Second Military-Political District in Cabinda.
In 1974 J. E. dos Santos was appointed a member of the Provisional Commission on Reorganization of the Northern Front and Financial Service Chief in the Second Military District. At the same time, he was again appointed the MPLA's representative in Brazzaville where continued to work till June 1975.
At the MPLA's interregional conference in September 1975, which was held on the Eastern Front (Moxico), at the suggestion of President Agostinho Neto he was elected a member of the MPLA Central Committee and a member of the MPLA Political Bureau. Functional duties assigned to him included coordination of political and diplomatic activities within the Second Military-Political District.
In June 1975, during an extremely difficult internal political period preceding the declaration of national independence, J. E. dos Santos was appointed Coordinator of Foreign Affairs Department of the MPLA. Then he began organizing various services of the diplomatic department in Luanda and engaged in vigorous diplomatic activities aimed at establishment of the new country's relations with most African states. During that period he headed also the Public Health Department of the MPLA.
After declaration of independence of the People's Republic Angola on 11 November 1975, J. E. dos Santos was appointed the country's Minister of Foreign Affairs. When J. E. dos Santos headed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as a result of vigorous diplomatic efforts, Angola achieved in February 1976 recognition as a full member of the OAU, and on December 1, 1976 the country became a full member of the United Nations.
At the 1st Congress of the MPLA held in December 1977, J. E. dos Santos was elected a member of both the Central Committee and Political Bureau of the MPLA - Party of Labour. In the period from 1977 to 1979, he worked as the Central Committee's secretary for education, culture and sports, later as secretary for national reconstruction, and still later secretary for economic development and planning. During the same period, until December 1978, he was simultaneously Angola's First Vice-Prime Minister. In December 1978 he was appointed Minister of Planning.
After the first Angolan president Antonio Agostinho Neto died 20 September 1979, J. E. dos Santos was elected Chairman of the MPLA - Party of Labour. 21 September 1979 J. E. dos Santos assumed the office of the Chairman of the MPLA- Party of Labour, President of People's Republic of Angola and Commander-in-Chief of the National Armed Forces of Liberation of Angola (FAPLA).
In November 1980 J. E. dos Santos was elected Chairman of the National Assembly, the supreme body of state power in the country.
At the Extraordinary Congress of the MPLA- Party of Labour on 17 December 1980, J. E. dos Santos' authorities were ratified in respect of performance of his duties in all the above-mentioned positions. In the first half of 1980s, J. E. dos Santos undertook his first attempts to carry out political and economic reforms whose implementation was extremely complicated by the state of war the country was actually in.
In 1985 the 2nd Congress of the MPLA - Party of Labour reaffirmed J. E. dos Santos' appointment at all his state power posts.
Within the period from 1986 to 1992, J. E. dos Santos concentrated his efforts on stirring up the process of peace settlement in the country. As a result, by 1992 the withdrawal of South African occupational armies from Angola had been completed, and the issue of sending the Cuban military contingent back home was solved.
In December 1986, J. E. dos Santos was made General of the Armies, which is the highest military grade in Angola.
Then, in connection with changes in the international situation in the region and, in particular, with the declaration of independence of Namibia, new negotiations started and resulted in signing of a peace treaty in Bicesse. Angola began changing over to political pluralism and principles of market economy. Signing the treaty made it possible to organize and conduct democratic elections on a multi-party basis. As a result of the elections, the MPLA obtained a majority of seats in the supreme legislative body of the country. J. E. dos Santos received 49.57% of all votes. In connection with the impossibility of carrying out a second round of elections, J. E. dos Santos was again appointed President of the Republic of Angola.
The accomplishments of J. E. dos Santos have been marked with many decorations and titles. On April 29, 1993 J. E. dos Santos was awarded an honorary diploma of the US Institute of National Freedom (INC) as a token of recognition of his efforts in forming 'a free, democratic and peaceful Angola'.
J. E. dos Santos has been awarded a number of distinguished foreign awards and decorations, in particular, from the National Racial Justice Commission of the United Church of Christ (USA) and Federal University of Brazil, from the Namibian President Sam Nuyoma and the Gabonese President Omar Bongo. In 1998, at the MPLA's 4th regular congress J. E. dos Santos was reelected Chairman of the party.
Among the most significant tasks the Angolan President has faced of late, is the maintenance of the country's territorial integrity, and achievement and preservation of peace in Angola. These tasks have been fulfilled as a result of signing the Memorandum of Mutual Understanding in Luanda in April 2002, the memorandum being an addition to the Protocol of Lusaka.
J. E. dos Santos is a co-founder of the Community of Countries with Portuguese as an Official Language (CPLP).
Jose Eduardo dos Santos is married and has three children with his wife Ana Paula dos Santos. At leisure the President likes to play football, handball, basketball, he plays the guitar and drums. He prefers light music to classical music and loves literature, while preferring Angolan authors.
Last update:08:25:23 AM GMT