2013/05/24 12:38 PM
as I stood next to my father looking at the biggest military build up rolling past us into the beautiful town of Chiede, i did not know the extend and the damage but I felt the earth shaking beneath my feet. Was I scared? Hell, no!
I stood next to my father looking at the biggest military build up rolling past us into the beautiful town of Chiede, i did not know the extend and the damage but I felt the earth shaking beneath my feet. Was I scared? Hell, no!
I stood next to my father staring across the field towards the road, the sandy road that crawled past the small church that my grandfather built. This road was rarely used, with the exception of few commercial trucks that went from Chiede to Milunga and to the border of Namibia. But that day in 1975 what we were witnessing was the biggest military convoy that ever drove into the small town, north east of the Namacunde. This was the first SADF invasion into Angola and I was five years old. The beginning of what is known today as the Border war or the infamous ‘bush war.’ When the SADF arrived at Chiede the town was empty, all the shops and buildings were cleared and the inhabitants withdrew from the town, leaving only what they could not carry… the buildings. This part of the country was a rural with strong tradition in cattle farming, known as the "heartland of cattle farming"(Chiedi she e ngobe). The town of Chiede was a small with a school, hospital and couple of residential houses on one side of the main road and the administration, justice and about four shops to the other side of the main road, the airstrip on the eastern side. There was only one vehicle next to the school that failed to start, the owner abandoned it and took off on foot and when The SADF members arrived in the town, they also tried to start that vehicle and after failing they set it alight. That was the only incident of violence that occurred in 1975 at Chiede. The convoy continued into the rest of Angola, leaving a handful of soldiers to patrol this part of countryside on horseback. The local community went on their routine, herding the live stock and working on their fields and interacting with the new authority only when the circumstances or out of necessity. With the arrival of the SADF in this part of the country, UNITA took the full advantage of the situation and regrouped and strengthen their position and rounding up those that were outspoken MPLA sympathizer, those that were know as the vanguard, "Cabeçarios." The community withdrew deeper to their farms, while UNITA build up, recruiting and holding rallies whenever there was a festival or gathering. Although the SADF were giving the guidance and training, they seldom intervened in UNITA’s activities. This part of the country was mainly MPLA dominated but because of the closeness to the Namibian border, the cultural and family tie and complexity of the relationship between SWAPO and UNITA especially in 1960s early 1970s. This relationship was to frustrate the SADF in this part of the world… that they will have to attack some of UNITA’s key positions in Cunene in 1980s(the attack at Chitumba is an example). This relationship was far complex in the province of Cunene, as such a nightmare in to the beautiful friendship between the SADF and UNITA. One of the architects and a man to be credited for this relationship was, Antonio Vakulukuta was a charismatic leader with a strong follower in the southern part of Angola(in my future posting I will try and analyze the subject and his fate)
In 1975, at the age of five
Early in 1976 the SADF withdrew and UNITA dispersed in small groups into the bush before MPLA arrived. If the Cubans arrived at Chiede then it must have been hush hush for their presence was not noticed. Meanwhile MPLA started with the new reforms being introduced in the rest of country, school was open, the shop. Those that left during the SADF/UNITA returned to take up their position in the new system, amongste them, the man who abandoned the landrover in1975... UNITA was to regroup in the northeast of Chiede in the area called Chitumba where they were to form a strong line of defence.
five years later at the dawn, in 1980 the SADF came down with two fighter planes, Helicopters and a company or more of men…this time at the age of ten I was scared, what followed was the worst, untold military on slaughter on the civilians.