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Opinion | Sep 11, 2018

“Dignified” Burial for a Nation-Wrecker?

A picture from 1996 shows Jonas Savimbi, leader of the Angolan guerilla group UNITA, who was killed in 2002.  By ISSOUF SANOGO (AFP/File)
A picture from 1996 shows Jonas Savimbi, leader of the Angolan guerilla group UNITA, who was killed in 2002. By ISSOUF SANOGO (AFP/File)

The Portuguese-trained medical doctor, if memory serves me accurately, may have started out with a good cause as rebel leader of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), but by the time he was killed on the battlefield in the country he thought he was liberating, first from Portuguese colonial rule and later from the Mulatto-led People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), Jonas Savimbi had almost made a total nuisance of himself and the sovereign cause of his country. He had literally gone over the edge at a time that the rest of the world was increasingly becoming globalized and cosmopolitan.

He had garnered the staunch support of most of the Western capitalist world at one time, as I vividly recall, perhaps primarily because he had openly declared his implacable aversion for the Soviet-style Communism that his political opponents of the MPLA were doggedly and, perhaps, even blindly pursuing. The Portuguese had already been long gone by then. And then it shortly dawned on his profit-motivated Western patrons that Mr. Savimbi was about anything except the “Total Independence” or Liberation of Angola. His political agenda had decidedly become one of nativist atavism that had absolutely no place in an increasingly cosmopolitan and globalized world. The bestial contest of wills in Angola’s killing fields was no longer about the greater good of the people. Rather, it entailed a primitively regressive contest of who was “indigenous” or a “pure” African and thus deserved to peremptorily rule the proverbial roost.

It was no longer about Ideology or an apocalyptic contest between Eastern-brewed Communism/Socialism, on the one hand, and Western-incubated Capitalism/Free-Market Economy. That was also when Mr. Savimbi lost his favor and traction with his hitherto Western-European allies. The Angolan Civil War had gone on for so long that it no longer made any logical sense to the new generation of the country’s young men and women who wanted to pick up the proverbial broken pieces and peacefully move on with their lives, or whatever might have been left of the same. When Mr. Savimbi was routed and violently executed in the process in Angola’s killing fields on February 22, 2003, most of the world – at least the portion that had been paying a modicum of attention – sighed with relief. But the real heavy-lifting job of national reconstruction was only about to begin. There had, of course, been absolutely nothing “civil” or “civilized” about the Angolan Civil War. And its catastrophic aftermath had not met with the celebratory eye of the world.

Nepotism and rank corruption have been widely reported, since anybody can remember, to be the hallmark of the MPLA’s leadership, from Agostino Neto to Eduardo Dos Santos and presently, Mr. Joao Lourenco (John Lawrence?) The leadership of post-war Angola is still heavily Mestizo or Mixed Race; and so politically speaking, not very much has changed on the ground. It is yet or still morning on Creation Day, in the immortalized words of late Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe, my old English Professor. Today, Angola also unenviably boasts of being the country with the most war-engendered amputees in the world. Which is why I could not help but be flabbergasted to read about the rather bizarre decision by Mr. Isaias Samakuva, the current UNITA leader, to have President Lourenco to permit the mortal remains of the man whose wanton atrocities significantly precipitated the apocalyptic creation of a whole human cultural industry of amputees exhumed and be afforded a “dignified burial” (See “Angola to Exhume Body of Rebel Chief Savimbi for ‘Dignified’ Burial” AFP (Agence-France Press / 8/16/18). Only Africans concern themselves with the “dignity” of architects of genocide and nation-wreckers.

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By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
August 16, 2018
E-mail: [email protected]

Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., © 2018

This author has authored 4440 publications on Modern Ghana.
Author column: KwameOkoampaAhoofeJr

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