by Ian Gilchrist, Special Committee on the Situation with Regard to the Implementation of the Declaration of the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, United Nations General Assembly
New York, New York, United States
May 17, 1963
Publisher: United Nations General Assembly
10 pages
Type: Petition
Coverage outside Africa: United States, Portugal, United Nations
Language: English
Statement made by Ian Gilchrist, a medical doctor, about conditions in Angola, based on his personal experiences there. Gilchrist’s father was a Protestant medical missionary; he himself lived in Angola from the age of 3 months in 1935. After living in Canada from 1940-1946, his family returned to Angola in 1947 and remained there until 1951. He described hardships and poverty of people during that time who were treated with contempt by Portuguese settlers. There was child labor, harsh taxes, imprisonment for no reason, contract and convict labor, and many illnesses. Gilchrist received medical training and then returned to Angola in August 1961. He learned that rumors had spread among whites that Angolans were going to kill them on Easter Sunday. In response, many white panicked and formed vigilante groups that terrorized and killed Angolans in April and May, including in Andulo, Balombo, and Bocoio. The authorities gradually resumed control from the vigilantes, and “the process of elimination was more discreet.”  The authorities arrested men who were educated, or otherwise leaders of their people, most of whom were shot. In Bailundo, all dozen nurses at a missionary medical facilities were detained and kept for more than a year. Wholesale slaughter along the banks of the River Cuanza was reported to Gilchrist. Comparing 1961 to 1951, Gilchrest said there were more whites in the country, the people were poorer, and “the villages were depleted of men.” He saw about 200 11-and-12-year-old taken away to coffee plantations. “Severe paternalistic exploitation” has been replaced by “genocide and immigration.” At the end of 1961, he was given four days to leave the Angola. After one year in Sierra Leone, he returned to the Congo to do medical work with Angolan refugees there under the Emergency Relief to Angola program of the American Committee on Africa (ACOA). Gilchrist describes more than 250,000 Kikongo refugees who have arrived within the past two years. “[P]robably millions of persons in the territories neighboring Angola … can trace their ancestry back two, three, or four generations to original Angolan refugees.” He reports that “a recent group of 3,000 people that started out, only 50 reached safety in the Congo.” Gilchrist concludes that “the Portuguese policy of genocide and white immigration may very well succeed if something is not done quickly to stay their madness.”
Collection: Private collection of Saskia de Boer