2017/05/31 12:29 AM
Saturday evenings, southeast Angola, March/Apr 1988... Our SADF forces have settled in for the night in their respective hides in the bush east and south east of Cuito Cuanavale. The descending silence is a welcome respite to the day's fighting, harassment fire missions, bombing and rocket attacks by enemy MiGs. That is when the Brigade HQ signaler gives us the "All clear", indicating that all the brass have left the Brigade Administration Area (BAA) somewhere in the bush northwest of Mavinga, to go and have some well-deserved supper and drinks with the UNITA brass at Mavinga. That is when suddenly the air waves are thrown open for abuse and all the subunits (well, at least the artillery ones that I knew of) in the field would take a chance to tell jokes and have a go at each other over the radio (yes yes I know... we seemed to have been a pretty undisciplined lot!) You have to KNOW someone Afrikaans to appreciate the Afrikaner sense of humour and understand the crude nature of certain words and phrases in Afrikaans used in especially rude jokes. I remember on one occasion two of the batteries were having a "sing-off" against each other over the radio, with the entire battery assembled to sing a crude song for the others over the radio! While this was all a rather unacceptable practice (not to mention gross violation of rules!), we, the more junior officers, allowed it to continue as it was really a great morale builder and strengthened the entire brigade's Esprit d'Corps tremendously. The very strange thing though, was that the enemy went as quiet as we went loud. They had Afrikaans speaking interpreters from the ANC and SWAPO in their own HQs, and I could just imagine their interpreters translating the Afrikaans jokes to the Angolan and Cuban officers and them having a laugh with us, once they grasp the meaning of the jokes of course! We even stopped harassment fire missions with the G-5s on those Saturday nights, and I often wonder at the sense of peace it brought to us that time! Of course, at first light on Sunday morning, the OPOs were back in their trees and the fire missions started once again.... until the next "Saturday Night Live"
PS. I have tried to find confirmation of this through contacts I have of the other side, no luck as yet! ;-)
Copyright ©2017 Johan Schoeman