Friday, April 15, 2011

As Cartas Privadas de Patriota Angolano: O Último Capítulo [1976 - 1979]

Aqueles de vocês que me conhecem bem, também sabem o quanto valorizo ​​a minha privacidade (talvez até mesmo ao ponto de reclusão). Mas, como historiador, considero o conhecimento como mais valioso. Decidi publicar estas cartas porque preenchem uma lacuna no nosso conhecimento histórico dos homens e mulheres, que deram as suas vidas pelas lutas anti-coloniais em África, durante os anos da Guerra Fria.

Jorge Sangumba e eu correspondemo-nos durante vários meses antes de nos encontrarmos em Londres, em 1973. Era um estudante de licenciatura em Harvard e ele era secretário de Relações Externas da UNITA, um movimento de libertação que lutava pela independência de Angola do colonialismo Português. Casámos dois anos depois. Mas a guerra civil eclodiu em Angola, dias após o nosso casamento. O nosso casamento desmoronou no meio do caos que se seguiu. Mesmo assim, alguns laços são eternos. O Jorge foi torturado até à morte em 1982.

A história da UNITA provavelmente nunca será contada na íntegra, porque a história é contada pelos vencedores. No entanto, desta forma pequena, gostaria de sabotar essa máxima. Pois, as cartas do Jorge ajudam a colocar um rosto humano num movimento político, que o mundo exterior veio a conhecer apenas no contexto do seu líder instável. Clique aqui para um tributo a J. Sangumba apelidado de "A Angola dos Meus Sonhos." Por favor, seja paciente. Carrega lentamente.
Português   [click here]


Lusaka, April 8, 1976

My dearest wife Connie,
I was happy to hear from you last time and at the same time worried for your worries, anxieties to be pregnant, insecurities of all sorts, anxiety to come to the unstable political scene of Lusaka, etc.
            Physically, I am fine, but mentally exhausted for the infinite number of problems.  This is a tough period needing tough characters on the scene.  But experiences of the past nine years shall be our pillars and hope for the future.
            I will be going to Angola within 4 days and upon my return, I shall contact you.  As we have discussed and quarreled while I was in USA last, there is no need for you to worry and rush coming to insecure places for we may create other problems with no use.  Just be calm.  I’m not running away from you because I made a solemn commitment to live with you and if necessary die with you as heroes or martyrs.  Do something useful and something that you like to do.  If you do not go to Portugal to learn Portuguese, try to get a job which will voucher your experience for the future. If we are chronologically young, I presume that mentally and emotionally we are strong.
            As far as your anxieties of pregnancy, please, darling, do not create illusions unnecessarily.  I think you are fertile and children will come even without too much effort.  I shall be in Europe in 2 or three weeks and there we shall meet.  But these type of reunions must not continue for we are not millionaires and the future should not be bargained like in a casino.
            I received the ring, the medicine for constipation and for my feet.  Many thanks.  Send my greetings to our people in Houston, to John and to his wife and children.  I hope you shall be well and strong, and do not get insecure for nothing.
            We are all well and firm over here.
With all my love and affection,
Jorge Sangumba

*  *


July 8, 1976  8 AM

Mrs. Connie Sangumba
347 east 53rd Street  Apt. 1B
New York City, NY 10017 USA


*        *

July 17, 1976, Lusaka [Zambia]
My dearest Connie Sangumba,
            It seems that your husband does not want to write to you.  On the contrary, most of the times I feel guilty for not being able to write to you almost w2eekly.  Sometimes I tried to contact you by telephone, but my darling seems to be absent from your apartment and from the office.  Last time, I made a point to talk to you after long time not being able to write to or talk to you, but comrade Chitunda told me that you went to Houston to help little Ida for the wedding.  Good for her, and please, tell her that if the conditions were not adverse at this time, I could have come and actively participate on her wedding arrangements for I went already through that ordeal of tuxedos, black ties, neck ties,and what not.  My brotherly regards to her husband and I wish to all of them not good luck, but stable years for years to come.
            At any rate, how are you?  How is dad John?  New prospects for your job?  When you had been excited for the prospects of getting a U.N. administrative job almost I sensed that you will not get it for being involved with UNITA people.  In this world, nothing is divorced from politics and opportunism.  Try to get an academic job, because in that field you may be more independent and flexible in taking decisions in terms of political bias and inclinations.  Inevitably, the politics of the university is the reflection of the politics of the society, but everything being equal you may find more room for “jonglement” and manouevre in the politics of academicists than in the world of politics and politicians.
            In the last 15 months of political activity before and during the Angolan civil strife I learned so much about the real life of politics that now I became to take everything that people in politics say and do with suspicion and care.  The real world of all the progressives and reactionaries, politically speaking, is not that world that we know and read in the front line pages, magazines, books, hear in TV, Radio, etc.  My darling, politics is a tough world, that needs tough people. 
            I am thinking to come again to London, possibly at the first or second week of August 1976 for a week.  If this materializes I shall be very happy to meet you in London and plan for our baby.  I think both of us will be accused by history of “impotence” [sic] and “negligence” of not doing the work properly.  I told Chitunda that you could go to Paris with your friend, no problem.

            Do not feel bad if I do not write quite often.  Just the conditions of hard work and thinking about the struggle on how we shall fix the Cubans do not allow, darling.  I do love you, despite of all the quarrels that we just like to organize at the last days of our encounters.  Greetings to all sisters and brothers.

With Love,

*        *

August 3, 1976
Received your cable about possibility of teaching position around here stop my suggestion on the matter is exactly as in the past stop better for us all now and future to look for job in europe or usa stop my stay around here is not permanent stop I may be transferred soon to Angola or Europe stop after wedding of Ida we shall meet again in London stop my regards to all. 

*        *

August 3, 1976, Lusaka [Zambia]
Dearest Connie,
            I received again today one of your telegrams of inconsistencies, which reflect clearly your efforts to fight reality.  Why, Connie, do you keep insisting on the question of coming to Lusaka?  Now the problem is of you coming to teach in Lusaka.  You may live in the world of illusions, but I will never accept to share with you such a world at this moment in Africa.  If you are looking for conditions of work for the present and for the future you may listen to me:  look for a job either in USA or in Europe.  If you are looking for instability, insecurity, and dark days for everything you may think to do now, well, you may come to Africa and I hope that you will never tell me that Sangumba never told me.  Furthermore, this struggle against Cubans in Angola which is taking away moments from both of us to stay together should not be taken lightly.  It is a serious struggle, and all the sacrifices will be worthwhile.  But if you think that our staying together will not conflict with the present problems which we are now facing, this may be your way of thinking, but not Sangumba’s.  For your information, in September 1976 there will be an annual conference of UNITA inside Angola in Bie, I shall be there for at least three to four months.  The Conference may well decide that I stay for longer period.  The other alternative which was already suggested is for me to return once again to Europe to do political work since the present conditions over here do not allow me to be more effective.  Therefore, if your plans of coming to Zambia to teach are mainly concerned in coming to live with your husband, well dear, what will happen if your husband will leave Zambia as planned?  Will you stay in Zambia or will you return to USA or will you follow your husband?  These are real problems.  Indeed, I do fully simpathise with you, and definitely I am very concerned of our marriage for since November 1975 we never stayed together for more than a month.  For the newly married people this is serious, but for people who are politically clear this is not very important. 
I hope that I was understood, and I always insist that you must not feel insecure for the commitment we have taken in November ’75 is a serious one.  Any other questions related to this question is secondary to our lives.
Many thanks for the cake and for the puzzles. I received the cake only last week.  It was delicious, but because of so many people living around me I had to share with all of them.  Next time make a bigger cake. Please, try to send me two tins of pipe tobacco “the delicious Black Captain.”  Those ones that you know.
            To all my kind regards and to you my love as always.
With love,
Jorge Sangumba

*   *

February 8, 1977, Kinshasa [Zaire]
My dear Connie,
            How are you?  I will not be long for anything that I will say at this stage it will not be taken seriously and believed.  I promised to contact you by a letter before I depart to Angola. We shall be leaving for sure on February 10, 1977 and the trip will take not less than 30 to 45 days.  I sincerely wish you well, and please do cool down a bit because your verdict on me after this cooling period shall be fairer and more exact.
            Indeed, Connie, I did commit a monumental error, a human error.  I just did not have enough courage, as a man, to tell you.  I did hope to tell you much later before you could find it out.  I did not expect the sad and shameful story to be told by third party persons, but by me personally and directly. 

For everything that happened I do regret very much.  I am very sorry for all the suffering that I caused to you, and I do promise that this sad saga will never happen again.  It was not a premeditated mistake, but it was a very sad coincidence by me telling you that you could not come to Lusaka for unsecure reasons and at the same time me getting involved with somebody else.   I must tell you my version of the story as it was.  You had only so far exaggerations and half truths.  What you had read in my red diary needs an explanation.  It was a game of the moment. I do ask from you a “GRAND PARDON” and forgiveness.  Do not rush in filing papers for a divorce for it is not the best solution for you or for me or for both of us.  The only thing that I can promise is that I did realize that it was a very serious mistake, and under no circumstances it will happen again.
            For all and for everything, Connie, I say “MEA CULPA, MEA CULPA.”
Je t’embrasse [sic]
*        *

October 31, 1977, Paris
Dear Connie,
            I had long months of thought about our broken relationship, had long discussions about us with my “true” friends, and with my UNITA leadership.  All agreed that the problem is and must be solved by us.  They may only help to understand all the past, present and future implications. 
UNITA is doing well.  Florence and Malik Chaka who stayed with us for few days will tell you about the progress we are doing despite all the odds along the road.  With the same courage and determination we shall achieve our objectives.
How is your father, brother and sister?  I learned jealously that you are engaged to a certain black lawyer.  Well, no comments. For both of you I do wish only good luck ad multos annos!
I shall be staying in Kinshasa for some time.  If you feel like writing me, please, do so.  I shall be glad to hear from you.  My regards to all friends and do receive from me an “abraco” of a friend.

Jorge Sangumba

*        *

August 3, 1978, Zurich [Switzerland]
Dear Connie,
            It was a surprise indeed to receive a letter from you.  Unfortunately, when it arrived I was on my way to a long trip.  I just arrived and hours later I had to leave to Zurich.  I received the book on CIA revelations!  And last week I received 2 cuttings on Angolan situation.  Many thanks.
We had been very busy with the diplomatic trip of Dr. Savimbi, who successfully visited 14 countries.  He just returned safely to his inside base of operations. 
How is your health?  Your work? How is your father?  As you may know I m a man of dialogue, despite an inner propensity of introversion and male arrogance.  I still hope to meet you and talk over things.  Even with different destinies and objectives in personal terms we should talk and I am sure that time has illuminated us.
Barbosa Tchiyuka will now be UNITA’s representative in U.S.A.  He will be arriving  
Soon.  I may arrive with him in USA and stay for 3 weeks.  We may find time and courage to talk and talk. 
            I must leave you.  Please extend my warm regards to your father, brother, sister and to all friends.
Je t’embrace,

*        *

May 30, 1979, Angola
My dear Connie,
            It may be a surprise for you, but this is Jorge Sangumba writing from the remote jungles of our beloved but martirised [sic] Angola.  I have been inside Angola for the past 9 months.  Now it is time for me to give a small and humble contribution to the struggle not from the pastures of diplomacy and external political intrigue, but from the direct confrontation of reality.  The struggle  is going well, and more than ever, UNITA and all its followers are sure that victory is certain.  The Russians will have their first Dien Ben Fu here in Angola, and the Cuban adventurers shall be humiliated.
            From Kinshasa, I received your telegram, a post card and the book on CIA stupidities.  Many thanks.  I did reply you on time, i.e. before I went to visit the People’s Republic of China. I hope you received the letter, if not I am certain that this letter will reach you.  I was with comrade Ernesto Mulato[1] inside Angola for the 12th Annual Conference of UNITA.  We spoke about you, not in a detrimental way, but we spoke about our past, in London, in the USA, and about our unfortunate and broken marriage.  I did concede to Ernesto that looking back I did realize that the fault was essentially mine,  and victim of circumstance [sic].  I still think that one day we shall meet and talk, despite of our advanced age.  The more we grow the more we reveal our talents of magnanimity and wisdom.  I am sure, you grew older and wiser, and definitely Mr. Sangumba also.  Today, my main concern is the struggle. This has become our profession and we shall die as professional revolutionaries, because we have a cause for that.  Today, we understood better that what counts in the struggle is the resolute defense of one’s interests, as long as the interests are the inner reflection of people’s aspirations.  We grew older and wiser, politically.
            I do hope your health and courage did not desert you.  I do sincerely wish you all the luck and success in your career.  When Angola shall be free we shall celebrate together, and you still may be useful for the tasks of reconstruction in the field you may perform best.  I do understand that you are the boss in the Ford Foundation.[2]  I do also understand that your marriage with the Sangumbas has been a source of speculation and some political difficulties in your brilliant career.  But only success succeeds, and the success of UNITA shall become the defeat of all UNITA’s false friends and adversaries.  How is the health of your father, sister and brother?  Please, do extend my warm and respectful greetings to your father to whom I store tremendous respect and admiration.  I know that your father still likes and talks about me quite often.  Despite of problems we had, tell your father that I am still his son.  Africa is also his.
            My health is excellent.  Courage, coolness and a little intelligence have been a tremendous help to solve problems and face difficulties.  Whenever you can, please do send me some interesting books, for a good reading in the bush is equivalent to four good means with half of the vitamins and proteins.  I am still a professional single man, and I shall remain like that.
            As you can see my English dissertation became horrible and awkward.  A man in the bush also is victim of his environment.  Do convey my greetings to all our friends in the USA, and for all, a big hug, and for you
Je t’embrace fort.
Jorge Sangumba

*        *

[A September 30, 1990, article by Leon Dash in The Washington Post, stated: “The 1979 beating and imprisonment of the American-educated Jorge Sangumba, UNITA’s popular foreign secretary at the outbreak of the civil war, was seen by Savimbi as a threat to his control of UNITA.  Imprisoned in one of UNITA’s damp prison pits dug deep into the soil, the jovial Sangumba is alleged to have dwindled to a thin, haggard and sickly reflection of himself before he died.”]  

[1] Ernesto Mulato was a UNITA official who had previously worked with Jorge in London.
[2] Actually, I had only been appointed to a commission on U.S. Policy Towards Southern Africa headed by the President of the Ford Foundation.  Gossip moving from the U.S. to the Angolan bush had a way of getting somewhat mangled.
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