Sita Valles: the tragic fate of an Idealist

She believed in the Revolution, but just one wasn't enough for her. And so, after experiencing the Carnation Revolution in Portugal, she wanted to help building the independence in Angola, where she was born. An idealist that ended up dying at the hands of her comrades, in one of the bloodiest events of modern Angolan history.

Aug 23, 2023 - 13:13
Sita Valles: the tragic fate of an Idealist
Sita Valles and her son, Ernesto

Sita Valles was a prominent figure in the Angolan post-independence movements and a leading member of the MPLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola) between 1975 and 1977. Born in Cabinda, an Angolan envlave off the coast of the Democratic Republic of Congo, in August 23th, 1951, she became politically active at a young age and joined the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP).

Her involvement in the PCP led her to engage in anti-colonial and socialist activities, and she joined the ranks of those advocating for the liberation of Portugal's African colonies, including Angola. On the occasion of the the Portuguese Carnation Revolution of April 25th, 1974, Sita was in the USSR and was a prominent leader of the Portuguese Union of Communist Students (União dos Estudantes Comunistas, UEC).

She returned to Portugal and maintained intense activity during the revolutionary period of 1974-75, and eventually moved to Angola, where she became a key figure in the MPLA, one of the main Angolan nationalist movements and the one who proclaimed the country's independence from Portuguese colonial rule. Her background in the Portuguese Communist Party likely contributed to her alignment with the MPLA, which had socialist and Marxist-Leninist ideological underpinnings.

During the 27th of May 1977 events, Sita Valles was among those accused of being associated with an alleged coup attempt against President Agostinho Neto's government. Like other MPLA leaders aligned with the party's leftist faction, she was murdered in the aftermath by those who remained in power within the MPLA.

José Van-Dunen, her husband and father of her son Ernesto (so called in honor of Ernesto Che Guevara, and therefore also called Che) and Nito Alves, accused of being the leader of the alleged coup, were also executed few days after the events.

Sita Valles' life and involvement in both the Portuguese Communist Party and the Angolan independence movement reflect the interconnectedness of anti-colonial struggles and socialist ideologies during a crucial period in African history. She was a revolucionary and an idealist, and her contributions, along with those of other activists, played a role in shaping the course of Angola's journey after the independence.

Her tragic fate highlights the severity of the internal divisions and political struggles within the MPLA during that period and the devastating impact of the post-coup purges. The events of the 27th of May marked a significant turning point in the trajectory of the MPLA and Angola's political landscape.

Yamanu Chisisi Member of EA Coordination Team