In 2018, all member states of the Southern African Development Community, including Angola, declared 23 March an official holiday called Southern Africa Liberation Day. The day commemorates the victory of Angolan and Cuban forces over South African forces in the battle of Cuito-Cuanavale.
|2020||23 Mar||Mon||Southern Africa Liberation Day|
|2021||23 Mar||Tue||Southern Africa Liberation Day|
While accounts of the battle and the broader conflict are contested, the basic idea is that invaders were defeated, leading to the liberation of neighbouring Namibia and the ultimate end of apartheid in South Africa.
South Africa had control over former German Southwest Africa, Namibia, at the time and was trying to put down rebel uprisings there. Communist Cuba and the USSR were supporting Communist-leaning forces in Angola and Namibia. The US, South Africa, and the West tended to support the other side. It was one major battle of the overall “Cold War” and not a random invasion of Angola by South Africa.
Nonetheless, when Namibian rebels fled to find shelter in Angola and South Africa was supporting pro-Western Angolan rebels in Angola, conflict was inevitable. From November of 1987 till March of 1988, South African forces fought Cuban and Angolan forces in southern Angola but were decisively defeated on 23 March of 1988.
This is a very new holiday and has no traditions as such. But awards were given out to those who had fought in the battle and were still living in the first celebration in 2019.