2015/08/13 08:26 PM
Many parents look at the sunset and hope that the quiet nights will bring news of their children. Over the years I have had people coming to ask if I had met so and so and with a heavy heart I will say no but deep down I hope so and so will come back to his village or at least the family will find I closure.
The children of the war is dedicated to those children who have crossed my path while searching for a home.
The child,who was not yet a girl for she must have been about four years old was playing peacefully, picking small stones, digging her small fingers into the dusty sand as she selected the best stones. Then suddenly she made up her mind as little children often do and turned around to face two women who were contemplating about something that was seriously wrong.
Two women a nurse and a cleaner, at the Oshakati military hospital. They were discussing the fate of the child. She wiped her hands on her beautiful new dress and ran towards the two women. The woman in a white dress stretched her arms as she knelt to reach for the girl.The beautiful little girl of about four years old or less threw herself into the warm embrace of the nurse who returned the affectionate as mothers would do to her offspring, except that she was not the mother. They hugged, the nurse wept softly, she was not suppose to weep but the motherly instinct was stronger than the training and courses that have enabled her to be where she was, at the military hospital at Oshakati. As she caressed the little girl, She could no longer hold her tear and pain back, ‘every thing will be fine, little one.’ Suster Venter whispered, more to assure herself, she still have to decide on the name to call the little girl. The child did not reply, for she did not speak the language that was spoken here. In the arms of this nurse, she will be safe but for how long no one could tell. The other woman, the cleaner at this military hospital observed with the concern, for she too was a mother. Suster Venter tried to comfort the child from the war. Few months ago, neither Suster Venter nor Monica(whose really name I know not), the cleaner did not know the existence of this child, however from the distance the child can easily be passed to Monica’s daughter or a family member for they shared common ancestry of the san people that lived in the southern eastern part of Angola. That resemblance was a comfort and hope that Monica will find within her, a way and means to accommodated the little girl.
The little girl whom for the purpose of this article I will call her Khanxixi was brought from the war zone by soldiers. Her family who have lived and hunted on the south east of Cunene province and other provinces of the south of Angola since they climbed out of Noah’s Ark, were wiped one fateful day during the raid by South African defense Force(SADF). Khanxixi being the only survivor was brought to Oshakati.
Khanxixi’s people had no interest in the politics of the day and their only struggle was against the mother nature who sometime had to deprive them of fresh water and animal to hunt. Khanxixi was the sole survivor, and leaving the four year old child by herself in the forest with no one to feed, protect her was far cruel, barbaric and inhuman. Khanxixi was flown to Oshakati where she was dropped at the doors steps of the small military hospital that was used as first medical intervention from the war front. Here we were introduced, two children ‘orphaned’, displaced by the war. Where I was a nine years old boy who spoke Oshikwanyama, Portuguese and suster Venter was already teaching me to speak Afrikaans, in the male dominated world. She was a four years old child who was not yet a girl and whose is language of the San People was hardly spoken in that environment. Thus Khanxixi’s hope for a safe home was placed in Monica’s hands, at least until a permanent solution will be found. Although our encounter was brief, the memory of the little girl would be my companion in many years to come. “What became of her?” often I wondered…
But I was to meet many more children, more boys to be precise. Some of them we were to forge a bond, a brotherhood of a sort, born out of necessity to survive.
We were orphans from the war and had only each other and the hope that one day the war will end and we will walk away, back to our homes and families. But as we grew older, one by one we would be marched to Nove de Marco where we were to be molded into a fighting machine and then unleashed back to the villages and towns where we came from. Some of us were to survive the battles. Some of us were not to be so lucky and were to die in the same fields or plains where they once played.
And there were those that were too young to know where they came from, although they have survived the war, they will struggle to reunite with their families because they lacked all the information like the name of the villages and full names of their families to retrace their families. Families were also torn and displaced during this period. Villages and towns ceased to exist and the survivors moved to unknown locations. The annihilation of communities, villages and town. Once sprawling establishments full of live, laughter and children playing, were now in ruins accentuated with bullets holes on what remained of the once cozy homes. That was what greeted me in 1990s when I made the first journey to the southern Angola, back to my birth place at Chiede. During one of my visit at Chiede, a woman and child travelled from their village to talk to me. They had a long discussion with my mother, who introduced me to them. The woman was direct to the point, “tell me about my son… Sacaria, was also taken away more or less the same time as you. My son was older, much older then you. We have not heard from him or about him since his disappearance. Tell me my son is well…” Looking into my mother’s face, the pain and suffering that she endured over the years and the hope that she nursed that one day I will walk into her house and stand before her. I was lucky to have comeback, had people who assisted me. And now what about this poor mother before me? What about this child who have only heard of his brother but never seen him. How many more mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters are going through this torture, psychological torment. My mother once told me that she had made peace and accepted that Leo was no longer in the world of the living but I was missing and to be missing was far painful. And as looked from my mother to the woman looking for her son, I did not know how or what to tell her. the name does not feature in the list of people that I met. Could he have changed his name, many people did. Could he have been taken somewhere else?
Sometime in the early hours the vivid dream would visit me, the dream with the Omadakadaka hovering over the roof top, the smell of gunpowder and the little boy laying in the pool of blood and cry of the little girl. Khanxixi, the four years old girl… then gradually I would drift into the safety of my home. She will probably never return to her village for there was nothing left to return to. I was to meet many children, mainly boys… each one with a sad tale to tell of how he was captured and what happened to his family, his village and the world he is to inherit. Those that were older and physically stronger were be molded into military machine and returned to the war zone to kill or be killed.
1 comment(s) so far...
By Johan Schoeman on
2015/08/16 09:12 PM
Re: The Children of the war
Thanks for loading this incredible new perspective on the war, Dino. So many sad but inspiring stories of the war are still to be told!