2013/11/14 10:29 AM
The pain of not knowing if my family survived the massacre at Chiede was hard to bear, when I left chiede, under the tree near the water pump(seen in the photo) I took off my shoes that were shoaked in my blood… but what I did not know and was only to find out fifteen years later was few meters where I fell bleeding, my brother Leo, my hero let out his final breath. In the proof life, which is central to my writing, “In search for a home.” I tried to pen down the struggle to reach my parents and theirs to track me through Namibian towns, maybe not physically but through letters to tell them that I was alive.My first letter that i wrote in 1982 reached them and gave them hope that i was alive.But where was I? I was fortunate that in December 1995 I stood tall at Oshikango, and anxiously waited for my father to take me home. I was looking forward to be home for Christmas.
The story of a child shot by helicopter and captured in war create sensational news in the small community living at the age of the Okavango river. The story was told and retold from all angles and tones and spread through the village with fresh exaggeration every time. That’s what my arrival at Buffalo caused, but after few weeks or month the story started fading gradually and eventually vanished into the archives of the invisible libraries of that community. This community was four years old, when I arrived there in 1980. The first resident have arrived there in 1976, another group joined in 1978 from the refugee camp that was situated few kilometers from Rundu on the road to Grootfontein. When I arrived there this community were still reeling from the aftermath and chaos of the civil war, the integration into the South African Defence Force(SADF) as well as aligning with the broader society in that part of the world and the region as all. The civil war and withdrawal of the SADF from Angola has enlisted all those refugees, escaping from the civil war, amongst these refugees were teachers, civil servants from the Portuguese administration, religious leaders as well as soldiers from FNLA who were fleeing from UNITA soldiers and UNITA soldiers who found themselves trapped and leaderless and with no clear position after the winner took all in MPLA led independence. Some were fleeing from the civil war others were chasing and those that were caught in between. The result was a savage war where the soldier became a refugee and refugee became a soldier, unleashing a vicious circle of violence and prosecution for the sake of survival. As such at the southern part of Angola, the line between the friend and foes became blaring. Here the FNLA, UNITA and those that were serving the Portuguese Army were merged into Alfa and Bravo group, eyeing each other suspiciously at the parade ground as the man proclaiming himself as the savior preached, "let the bygone be bygone… were are bunch of brothers. Black and white we are one. I will take you to South Africa were you and yours family will be free. " The man known now as the savior was a good orator and he had an appearance of Moses in military uniform without the beard. The weapon in his hands was the walking stick of wisdom that guided Moses that guided him from mount sinai. "yours family will be free in South Africa. You will start a new life…" He continued but was interrupted by a staccato of gunshot as one of the teenage who never handled the weapon before, mistook the trigger for the safety catch. Few shots followed in response, creating excitement and trigger happy ambience at the parade ground, sending everyone crawling on the ground including Moses. Moses, aka the savior did not see this amusing, he bit his lips and dismissed the parade in anguish. Moses was to learn much later that making promises like that always create delirious euphoric that is hard to contain.
Where some saw chaos and mayhem, other saw an opportunity to mould an army, devoted and loyal. This loyalty was based on blind gratitude that should never be retreated or withdrawn, for they have nothing to retreat to. Every day, every month and every year that passed Angola became a distant home. A home and family that they were only tell the next generation that they once had. With the exception of few families that managed to escape from Buffalo through crocodile infested water into Botswana where they sought asylum and refugee status, many family stayed (there is chapter called ‘great escape’ where I focus on how some this families planned and escaped to United States of America and Canada ).
At the west of Caprivi, Alfa became Omega and the sister community Bravo became Buffalo. Some families were torn in the process, keeping them kilometers apart.
I started schooling immediately upon my arrival, and soon was surrounded by my new household, an environment different but was able to adjust myself with the assistance of friends and school peers. My guardians were from the north of Angola. Jose Miranda, my guardian was from the northern Angola and at the age of fourteen he left his home and went to join UPA(União das Populações de Angola) later to became FNLA(The National Front for the Liberation of Angola) and he spend part of the border of Angola and "Zaire"(DRC) and spend rest of his young years training at Kinguzo and then fighting for the independence of Angola from the deep forest in that part of the country. Before the outbreak of civil war he settled at Sumbe(Novo Rodondo) where he met his first wife and had a baby boy. During the outbreak of the civil war he fled south with his twelve years old brother in law, leaving his wife and the child behind. Tia Rosa, the wife when I arrived was from Kwanza sul, Quibala and like Jose Miranda when the civil war broke out the rest of her family fled at opposite direction, she escaped with the youngest daughter, joining the exodus to the south and were to be incorporated in the withdrawal of the South African Defence Force(SADF)
What exactly happened in the Southern Angola which led to the demise of FNLA will remains a point of debate for those interested in this chapter of history for the years to come. It is widely accepted that the CIA who were the advisors of FNLA, were instrumental and facilitated the transition from FNLA to SADF. The political leadership of FNLA were given a safe passage to rejoin the rest of the vanguard and the president of the party, Holden Roberto in Kinshasha, DRC and eventually to France, Europe and those who were left behind just changed the flag and the way of walking. The military structure was dismantled and its military leadership consisting of ‘commendantes,’ were reduced to mere "ceremonial sergeants" within the battalion. At the parade grounds around the base, the soldiers would honour their beloved Commandantes and "heroi de Guerra," in songs, that is highest this commandentes came in the unit. Somewhere at the border of Angola and Namibia in earl 1976 under the heavy rains and mosquitoes, my guardians became husband and wife, Teixeira the brother in-law and Janete the daughter became their two children and I was to become the third child in the house and lived together until about a year and half after my arrival, when tia Rosa and the daughter were expelled from buffalo.
1 comment(s) so far...
By dionisia dos santos on
2017/09/29 01:08 PM
Re: In search for a home: proof of life
Gud day my name is dionisia dos Santos. The daughter of the late Fernando dos Santos. My father was a medic soldier of FNLA in angola n later went to Buffalo 32 battalion. Then koevoet zulu delta were they ended up in south africa. My father n mother died wen we we're very young. Now we are old and want infomation abt my father so dat we can trace his roots. We want to know his family. Coz we don't have any family here in south Africa family so dat we reunite with them again. Plz if there is any info do not hesitate to contact me. My number is 0027765877705, we are based in south africa.