João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço is an Angolan politician who has had a distinguished career in both the military and politics. He was born on March 5, 1954, and has served as the 3rd president of Angola since September 26, 2017. Before assuming the presidency, Lourenço held several significant positions in Angolan politics and the ruling party, the MPLA (People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola).
Born into a politically active family with ten siblings, Lourenço's father, Sequeira João Lourenço, was a nationalist who had faced imprisonment for his political activities, while his mother, Josefa Gonçalves Cipriano Lourenço, was a seamstress. He received his primary and secondary education in Portuguese-language schools in Bié Province and Luanda.
João Lourenço's career began with his involvement in the liberation struggle against Portuguese colonial rule and his participation in the Angolan War of Independence. He was one of the first MPLA soldiers to enter Angolan territory in 1974 after the fall of the Portuguese colonial regime. He received military training and completed a master's degree in Historical Sciences in the Soviet Union at the Lenin Military-Political Academy. After his return to Angola in 1982, he transitioned from the military to politics.
Throughout his career, Lourenço held various positions within the MPLA, including Governor of Moxico Province, provincial commissioner of Moxico Province, First Secretary of MPLA, and Provincial Commissioner of Benguela Province. He also served as the MPLA's Secretary for Information and President of the MPLA Parliamentary Group in the National Assembly.
In 1998, Lourenço was elected as the Secretary-General of the MPLA, a position linked to the favor of then-President José Eduardo dos Santos. It was speculated that Lourenço might succeed dos Santos as the MPLA's presidential candidate, but tensions arose when dos Santos indicated he wouldn't seek re-election. This led to a strained relationship between them, and Juilão Mateus Paulo eventually succeeded Lourenço as MPLA Secretary-General in 2003.
Lourenço continued his political career, becoming First Vice-President of the National Assembly from 2003 to 2014. In April 2014, he was appointed as the Minister of Defense, and later, in August 2016, he was designated as Vice-President of the MPLA. In September 2018, he assumed the role of Chairman of the MPLA, succeeding José Eduardo dos Santos.
In addition to his political career, João Lourenço has also been known for his progressive actions. In June 2018, he legalized Angola's first LGBT collective and, in January of the following year, replaced the colonial-era law banning homosexual acts. He also prohibited discrimination against LGBT people and allowed abortion in cases of rape or danger to the mother or fetus.
Personal life-wise, João Lourenço is married to Ana Afonso Dias Lourenço, a Member of Parliament of the MPLA and a former Minister of Planning. They have six children, all actively involved in the MPLA. Lourenço is multilingual, speaking Umbundu (an indigenous language), Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and English. He is also popularly known as "Ti Mimoso" and "JLo."
DATE OF BIRTH: 5TH MARCH, 1954
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PLACE OF BIRTH: LOBITO