Jonas Malheiro Savimbi (August 3, 1934 – February 22, 2002) led UNITA, a rebel group that fought against the initially pro-Soviet MPLA in the Angolan Civil War until his death in a clash with Government troops in 2002.
With support from the governments of the United States, the People's Republic of China, South Africa, Israel, several African leaders (Félix Houphouët-Boigny of Côte d'Ivoire, Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire, King Hassan II of Morocco and Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia), and foreign mercenaries from Portugal, Israel, South Africa, and France, Savimbi spent much of his life battling Angola's Marxist-inspired government, which was supported by weapons and military advisers from the Soviet Union, Cuba, and Nicaragua (under the Sandinistas). The war ultimately became one of the most prominent Third World conflicts of the Cold War.
Jonas Savimbi was born on August 3, 1934 in Munhango, Bié Province, a small town on the Benguela Railway and raised in Portuguese Angola's central province of Bié, which together with Huambo later, after independence of Angola, served as his power base during the Angolan Civil War (1975 - 2002). Savimbi's father, Lote, was a stationmaster on Angola's Benguela railway line and a Protestant preacher. Both of his parents were members of the Ovimbundu tribe, which later served as Savimbi's major political base.