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If you would like to join this exclusive community and have your own WarBlog where you can post your personal stories about your experiences in the War In Angola, also known as the Border War, please go to the host site (www.warinangola.com) and register as a user.

Only Registered Users of War In Angola that have subscribed to the PREMIUM MEMBERSHIP will have access to their own WarBlogs. For more information on the Premium Membership, click here...

 

 

 

 

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Apr 30

Written by: Dino Estevao
2018/04/30 07:11 PM  RssIcon

 
Suddenly the stretch between Namacunde and Chiede became very dangerous to travel, let alone for those who lived there. The twenty-four kilometers roads became known as the road of death and only few dared to venture there in the years from 1978.
 
My last trip through that road was in 1978 with my mother and her sister my favourite aunt, Helena or maybe I was her favourite nephew. 
 
I was very sick and they had to take me to Namacunde hospital. Life in Southern Angola was becoming extremely difficult and the only vehicles reaching place like Chiede were the military trucks that brought supplies of the basic commodities. The vehicle was often escorted by FAPLA. 
 
We had to climb in those truck and travel for what seemed an eternity. The road was bad, part of it washed away by the rain and part of it was perceived to be a minefield.  We huddled together as my mother prayed for our safety throughout the dreadful journey. I was shivering due to the high fever but I could have been scared for I have heard of horror stories from those who have survived that road.
 
There were soldiers, ODEPE(civilian defence, I'll equipped and hardly trained but at least they had guns) and civilians everyone praying in their own way. I lied there with a fever of 120 degrees I could feel the fear and then one of the tire burst, the sound was so loud like explosion that everyone start crawling in the floor of the truck. 
Everyone thought that we were ambushed, fortunately the driver brought the vehicle to a standstill. For few seconds we laid still with our heart pounding in our hands.
 
Finally someone shouted, "é pneu!" It's a tyre!
Shoewww! Everyone let out a sigh of relief.
We had to climb off the vehicle and sat a distance away in the shade while the soldiers fixed the tyre. 
We also had to be very quiet to listen to any strange sounds, especially the sound of planes and helicopters.
 
You see the threats in this road between Chiede and Namacunde came in three folds:
1. Ambush
2. Air strike 
3. Land mine... All of them very lethal or take your choice!
 
After fixing the tyre we climbed back and drove to our destination.We stayed for a week at Namacunde and when I was better we went back. Travelling was only as last resort and if possible by foot. 
 
Because of these threats and constant harassment from the South Africans Security forces as well as the threat from Chitumba a decision was made to move my grandfather and grandmother from Ohongo to Chiede where we could be closer to each other.
 
Schooling was also another challenge, it was being disrupted every second day. A sound of a airplane was enough to send everyone running or nervous breakdown. What was happening between Chiede and Namacunde was either deliberately aimed to isolate the town and render it vulnerable or just creating chaos to the community. There were also theft of cattle and kidnapping of herdsman. People disappeared without trace, especially young men.
 
One day when we were at school two fighter plane came. Everyone started running tripping over each other, crying but the situation got worse when they started shooting. We were running north-East out of the town in the bushes. The plane's target was the building at the end of the town towards Namacunde. They shot the building into pieces and then left.
 
That afternoon mothers went about the places looking for their children. School was suspended indefinitely. 
 
After the independence my father's role was to coordinate logistics and education. He played a vital role in sending the first group of students to Luanda and Cuba and some like my elder sister was to end up in the small island near Miami. 
 
My father's experience as a comerciants was to earn him the position to oversee the stocking-up of the, "Loja do povo" which replaced all form of trading or business. "loja do povo, loja unica..." and other names that came with that system of thinking.
 
With the school suspended at Chiede, there was a plan to move the senior student north where they could continue with their studies. My brother Leo was part of this group. My father and Capunda met occasionally to discuss and plan to move the group of children to places of learning. Capunda was a dynamic leader, the right Comesario-politico for that period. Capunda and my father were friends from way back before I was born and his mother was one of the first people to welcome me back at Chiede in 1995. 
 
They eventually manage to get some learners to Namacunde for a short period but there was eminent threats, the possible attack in either town. 
 
But Southern Angola was getting extremely dangerous. There were too many air strikes, villages were burn down, herdsman disappearing and others tortured and released to spread fear and panic. 
 
One day two fighter planes came down at Ondjiva dropping bombs at the administrative building and hospital. Towns and villages  were no longer safe and gathering should be avoided.
 
During the day people avoided grouping, they would work on their fields and herd their livestock. Anything that resembled military or can be associated with military should be destroyed. At some stage I bought a toy plastic AK at the loja do poo and had a khaki trouser with pockets that looked like army trouser. My grandma took the toy and smashed into small pieces and then took my trouser and burned it.
 
 At home we had one of the oldest weapon that came from Mandume ya Ndemufayo's war against the Portuguese domination and finally against the English in 1917. The weapon was a symbol and family heritage and pride of our family history. The "spingarda" that my grandfather used to defend "oshilongo" was finally  burired in the field.
 
One early morning two helicopters flew from the border towards the East of Chiede. Not too close to town but also not too. They did not fly high, at the East of the town they started encircling a particular area. One helicopter went up and the other went down, for few minutes they repeated the excise. The two helicopters flew back towards the South following each other like two birds.
 
After few minutes everyone started coming from their hide out. Everyone was asking questions. 
 
We were living in a war zone. From a child to the elderly woman have learned certain skills to stay alive. We were living to survive. Chiede had never had a strong military presence and it's geographical location has made it even vulnerable. The man who defended Chiede until that day was Eusebio, under his command was a team of fifteen men. Well disciplined and well trained platoon of FAPLA that reported to Comesario-politico Capunda who was by then at Namacunde and Ondjiva.
 
Twice FALA from Chitumba attacked Chiede, every time with more intensity than the the previous. Every time they were repelled by Eusebio's men. Eusebio too tried to destroy Chitumba once or twice  but came back with their tails between their legs. 
 
Chitumba was a military nightmare for the FAPLA  in Cunene. Chitumba was later attacked by the South African Defence Forces. 


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