Insurgent Nations

Rebel Rule in Angola and South Sudan

Part of the African Arguments series
July 2024 9781787389434 408pp
EU Customers


Over two separate twelve-year periods, two opposing ‘states’ governed in parallel in Angola (1979–1991) and Sudan (1990–2002), each with competing conceptions of society, history and national identity. Deeply dividing communities with their counter-nationalist programmes, rebel parties UNITA in Angola and the SPLM/A in Sudan, which had fought Africa’s longest and bloodiest civil wars, built political and military enterprises in opposition to the established governments.

Insurgent Nations unpacks the complexities of these movements, exploring the charisma of their leaders, the ruthlessness of their military operations, their political manoeuvrings, and their multiple transformations in war and peace. Using first-hand, unpublished accounts from their leaders and cadres, Paula Cristina Roque provides unique insight into UNITA and the SPLM/A’s governing strategies. She details the ‘nations’, ‘states’ and ‘societies’ that were forged by the parties’ ideologies, sub-nationalist concerns and interactions with the population. While UNITA’s political project in the Free Lands of Angola was centrally controlled and totalitarian, the SPLM/A’s New Sudan was decentralised and minimalist, built from the bottom up.

This is the first volume to compare the policies and perspectives of UNITA and the SPLM/A, offering a new understanding of territory-governing insurgencies. Ultimately, both rebel states were exercises in survival, resilience and adaptation.


Paula Cristina Roque PhD is Executive Director of Intelwatch, and has worked for the Crisis Management Initiative, the International Crisis Group, and the Institute for Security Studies. She is a founding member of the South Sudan Center for Strategic and Policy Studies, and author of Governing in the Shadows: Angola's Securitised State, also published by Hurst.  

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