2013/12/05 10:19 PM
Omauni was my first stop from Oshakati military hospital. The Buffel, a military vehicle rolled out of the hospital yard, stopping briefly at the gate for a routine check by the guards, then opening the gate and the vehicle drove away. Leaving the comfort and safe haven that the hospital offer me during my stay. The drive was slow and each passenger kept to himself, praying and hoping that the vehicle did not drive over a landmine or came under attack.(that was the state of being then)
Our arrival at Omauni brought a sigh of relief and breathing to normal. The buffel came to stop and everyone reached for their military gear and climbed off to parade or a quick gathering and administration. Being the only none military personnel I took my bag and stood aside, waiting for Tito Appolinario. He knew his way around the place, after the gathering we marched to a far end part to a tent where he was received in a warm comradely reception. Here I was issued with a sleeping bag and couple of boxes of ration packs(rat pack) that made me chewing sweets throughout the night. I was to understand later that this is the place near the Angolan border, used as a springboard to attacks Angola. Perhaps this is the closest that I have come to my home town. However for few days this was to become a home, the home that I was later to hear and read about atrocities and cruel tales not only to those across the border but also to its own. “To re enforce and strengthen the myth and legends of a fierce warrior you have to slaughter, even your own. To be ruthless is to command and to be merciless, cruel will make you stronger and invincible…” when this statement is translated literally as history of the men and wars has showed us, the result is execution of man by their own, especially for those soldiering in the grey area.
I was the only child and did not come across any child during my stay at Omauni. Most of the time I kept to myself and seems that every second soldier that I met gave me a pair of dark blue shorts and light blue t/shirt which was the school uniform in Angola that they brought from that part of the world. Although the gesture was most welcome, ek was al gat met die klere. Soldiers come and soldiers went on regularly. Those that came was to resupply and break. (Come to think of it, now. the all set up looks like a scene from the series of ‘sending Vietnam’ with the red sand and without American accent.)
After few days at Omauni we were told to prepare that our transport will arrive any time. I rolled the sleeping bag and handed back to the owner and thanked everyone for letting me stay with them. The soldiers also wished me a save journey and hope to meet again when they returned to Buffalo.
The transport arrived in a form of helicopter, it hardly landed on sand ground like hill when the passengers started jumping out like bats. Soon the passengers that were to board started running towards the helicopter. I heard Tito Apolinario shouting over the sound of the Omadakadaka, “corre, Dino!” as everyone charged towards the helicopter. I struggled to keep up and soon I was few meters behind, until I could only see shadows like silhouette moving through the dust into monster with the rotors like blades hovering over their heads. Almost decapitating them, but nonetheless I was behind. As I came nearer the wind and sand generated by the revolving rotors started pushing me backward until I could no longer move forward and the giant blade missed my head again and again. I ran back to a safer distance and turn to the helicopter. I stared hard through the dust and then charged again towards the target but I was met with the same resistance, frustrated and in tears I with drew to a safer distance again. This time I could see everyone in the helicopter looking at me and the helicopter like a monster with tentacles revolving faster every time creating a strong wind like cyclone that was chancing me away. That’s it, I told myself. The only two persons that I knew and were given instruction to ensure that I arrive safely to my new home were now on the other side, inside the belly of the helicopter… between us was the hovering rotors that viciously threaten to decapitate me should I attempt to follow them. It was challenging me, this time I sized up the beast. Like a young bull, I charged with all the strength that I could muster, harder and desperate, crying I ran and ran and ran harder. But halfway I felt a strong hand lifting me and advanced in a rapidity of those who board helicopters for breakfast and threw me into the belly of the helicopter. I got your back, son… as the soldier who came to my rescue ran back to join his comrades. Immediately, I took up my seat and dusted off the tears and sand from my face, putting up a brave face while cursing that they have not make this “children friendly”. The helicopter took off and so my journey in search for a home continues. Next stop… Grootfontein!
Grootfontein was a contrast to Oumani. Here there helicopter landed and the engine died, bringing its rotors like decapitating blades to a complete stop, before we could disembark on a dark grey asphalt. I have been at Grootfontein before, three times but every time I was in a stretcher. All three surgeries to restore my legs and mobility have been done at Grootfontein. Everytime driving in ambulance through the rough road between Oshakiti and Ondangwa, then flying from Ondangwa to Grootfontein and back after each surgery. But now i planted my two feet on the soil of Oshivanda (Grootfontein) but did not have a cooking clue where the hospital was.
My two companions and I were driven to a building where we were to wait for the next transport. Tito Apolinario and I were housed in a bungalow neatly layout with beds, later an elderly soldier came and led us into a neat dining hall and the meal was served in most civil and respectful course. The other men that joined us for diner were of advanced age and carried themselves in courteous and orderly as they acknowledged each other around the table. I was to learn much later, that we were dined by senior non commissioned officers and such a reception is reserved to few. The dining hall was reserved for sergeant majors and staff sergeants. Tito Apolinario was a mere lance corporal and my other companion was whisked away on our arrival, to the officer’s bungalow because he was a lieutenant. After diner we were entertained with refreshment and retired to our beds.
My journey in search for a home continues...