Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Private Letters of an Angolan Patriot [PART II - 1974)


 INTRODUCTION:
[Those of you who know me well, also know how much I value my privacy ( maybe even to the point of reclusiveness.)  But as a historian, I treasure knowledge even more.   I have decided to publish these letters because they fill in a gap in our historical knowledge of the men and women, who gave their lives to the anti-colonial struggles in Africa, during the Cold War years.       


Jorge Sangumba and I had corresponded for several months before we met in London in 1973.   I was a graduate student at Harvard, and he was foreign secretary of UNITA,  a liberation movement fighting for Angolan independence from Portuguese colonialism.   We were married two years later.  But civil war erupted in Angola, days after our wedding.  Our marriage fell apart in the midst of the ensuing chaos.  Even so, some ties are eternal.   Jorge was tortured to death in 1982.

UNITA’s story will probably never be told in full, because history is told by the victors.   However, in this small way, I’d like to sabotage that maxim.  For Jorge’s letters help to put a human face on a political movement, that the outside world came to know only in the context of its unstable  leader.  Click here for a tribute to J. Sangumba called "The Angola of My Dreams." Please be patient. It loads slowly.]

PART II - 1974

London, 20th January 1974
My Love Connie,
            Upon my arrival at the top of my house, I found a huge bundle of letters waiting for me. Some had very good news, others terrible news for many comrades inside Angola.  The war has been intensified, and General Spinola who has been the general commander in Guinea (Bissau) is now the General Commander of all the colonialist forces in Angola, Mozambique and Guinea (Bissau).  It seems that 1974 will be a decisive year for UNITA.
            After reading the letters, I decided to rest for a day.  In my bed your beloved image persecuted me all the time.  Even I dreamed that you were at my side.  It is a lovely experience to be in love with someone that one really adores  and expects so much from in life.  The movement of things have a different momentum, the colours of things have a different intensity, and the shades different shapes.  What have you done to me, my love?  Love towards you made me like a tender-hearted violinist drawing from his magic instrument, my own heart, strings that awaken all the emotions of the human heart.  I do promise to love you, and I do promise within the boundaries of human limitations to make my love towards you a daily, living reality.
I have thought that I was a different kind of man.  No, I am not.  Before, I used to endure loneliness, and individuality as part of my character as a revolutionary, abroad.  But, after two days of separation from you, I do realize that loneliness is a terrible thing.  You became now part of my existence and I do only expect and hope that within a few weeks you shall be with me again, and to share with me moments of anxiety, hope, sadness and of course, moments of happiness.
The short moments and days that we stayed together, I did learn a lot about you, and I am sure you did learn quite a lot about me.  But, learning is an infinite process.  The more we learn about each other the more we shall fulfill and complete each other as human beings, striving to win full humanity.  Do not you think so?
I intend tomorrow to make preliminary contacts with the University of London about evening courses on sciences to refresh my brain with pre-medical courses.  I am very serious about this matter of studying medicine.  Take care of yourself, study well, and success in your general exams.  You can be assured that Jorge Sangumba loves you very much, indeed.
With all my love.

Jorge
*
*        *


April 11, 1974, Londres
Chere Connie,
            Only now I have realized that you have departed.  When I arrived from the airport I found the house completely empty and cold.  It is not a surprise by now if I say that I did miss you very much, indeed.  I do look forward to see you again around June and after August in your way back from Dakar [Senegal, West Africa].  I am sure that it will not go all the time like that, i.e. you departing and Jorge leaving, or Jorge leaving and you staying.  At this particular moment it is necessary as you realize. But, let us fight the good fight and face the future with much more confidence and happiness."
            I did really enjoy your very short stay with me, and I think that you will be a good mother and also a very good wife if I stay a bit less argumentative. But, do not worry.  All my arguments meant well and always they will mean well.  Both of us must always search for the truth.
With love,

            Jorge

*
*        *

May 1, 1974
Lome (Togo)
My beloved Connie,
            How are you?  Myself and Toni are doing fine.  We came to Lome from Accra to contact personally the "entourage" of Mr. Mobutu [President of Zaire]  and the president of Togo who are now celebrating the 14th anniversary of Togolese Independence.  Togo is a poor, small, hot and beautiful country.  The people are very interesting and business-like.  since they have lived three colonial experiences -- German, French and English, it made their politics extremely insecure, confused and rather sad.
            I think you have been following the developments in Portugal.  UNITA is watching with interest the "denouements" of the events.
            Are you still coming in June to London, before going to Senegal. J"ai besoin de toi or j'envie de toi.  The long distance and the time taught me something about you, that is I want you to be my wife and all the time think that although away, I may think and say that I have a wonderful soul, a wife waiting for me somewhere.  It will not be long, my dear.  I shall ask your tender hand from your parents, either in writing or orally!
  Please take care and do not forget about your "poor" Jorge who is determined to live with you ad multos annos!  When you come to London, bring the tobacco (the one at 96th at Broadway, New York) and a special cake made by Connie, will you?
With all my love and affection,
                                               
                                                           
                                                Jorge Sangumba

*
*        *

Lusaka, Zambia 24th May 1974
My beloved soul Cucu[1],
 I arrived from Yaounde [Cameroons]  two days ago.  Toni is fine and in very good spirits.  I received all your lovely letters, except one which revealed Cucu in one of her funny moods, but I did understand. 
            Did you receive my telegram upon my arrival in Lusaka?  I hope that the telegram cheered you up.  I do not like to see you upset, frustrated, and confused.  It is true that I am feeling also our long separation.  Two months for two loving people seems to be an infinite chain of moments.  But I am sure that we shall meet again sooner than later.  I am still finishing some very important work in Zambia and then I must go somewhere else in Asia to fulfill another important mission for 10 days maximum.  It means that I shall be back in London definitely around 15th June 1974.  So, please be patient, calm and cool my love. We must stay at least a month or more together before your depart to Dakar.
Love,
*
*        *

Lusaka, 27th May 1974

My beloved Connie,
I just received your letter of 14th May.  Last night on my little and hard bed I was reading and re-reading your last two letters.  They were very sweet and lovely, indeed.  They arrived at appropriate time.  I was feeling so tired, confused because of the present development of events, that I needed really a comforting letter with good news.  What a lovely wife-to-be Mr. Sangumba has!   Furthermore, I had a lovely dream about you and about myself.  I dreamt that we were together somewhere in Boston in the park, I presume.  Then we went somewhere kissing your tender lips, and getting into your tender heart!  Then, when I got up I found that Cucu was not at my side.  I am really looking forward to meeting you again around 14th June and staying with you for a month or two before you embark to Dakar.  I promise to be a better and more civilized husband-to-be than I was before. I cannot be in London before the middle of June, because I have to leave very soon to another very important mission somewhere in Asia.  I cannot tell you the country here, because I am not sure who is going to open this letter first.  But, I am sure when you will know where I went and about the success of my mission, you shall be excited.
             There is still a kind of euphoria about the recent successes of UNITA.  Friends and enemies are really astonished and confused.  But, nothing is stronger than truth in a revolution of a people.  With recognition of UNITA, we shall work much harder, ,and assume better responsibilities.  The Portuguese colonialists, I mean the present military Junta are not sincere about their talks and eventual negotiations.  They want to destroy in a very cunning and intelligent way the combative spirit of our people and liberation movements. 
I am quite sad that I could not sit for my examinations at the University of London.  But, the work for liberation as you know must have priority.  Nevertheless, do continue to make the necessary contacts about medical schools and scholarships.  There are not yet changes in my plans about studying medicine in the USA.  But, we shall have a lot to talk about and plan for the future when you come to London in June.  I shall be very happy to see you finishing your thesis on schedule and then to free yourself from the book-work.
 I shall write you again soon before I leave Lusaka.  Take care and do not exhaust yourself with confusion and worrying about me.  I am o.k. and I do love you very much indeed.  Greeting to everybody in New York and hello to your papa and mama.  I was very happy to hear from you that your Mama likes me and she is ready to assist UNITA.  These are good news, indeed.

With all my love, ton amour

     Jorge Sangumba 


*
*        *


Londres, 20th June 1974
My darling Connie,
            I was anxiously waiting for you Sunday as planned and I made everything cozy and nice for you at Ospringe Road.  Although I am a bit ill and still recovering from my long and hard trip from Africa the idea of your coming to London and join Mr. Sangumba was medicine in itself.  Today, I received from Lusaka a very sad and frightening telegram saying that somebody important from the frontline in the battlefield just died.  I do not know whom. But, I was asked urgently to take the next flight to Lusaka and deal with urgent matters there.
            I had tears on my eyes, my love.  I am not feeling so well, in fact very weak and I have to make such a trip to Zambia for at least a week or 10 days.  Secondly, I shall miss you exactly two days before your scheduled flight to London.
With all my love, je t'embrace,
Jorge

Dakar, September, 24, 1974
My love Connie,
            I arrived well in Dakar and UNITA  was very well received by the President Senghor.  From here I shall be going in fact, today to Ivory Coast to meet President of Ivory Coast and his government. Then I shall continue on to Zambia via Kampala (Uganda) and Nairobi (Kenya). 
            I hope you had a nice time in London despite our occasional outbursts due to political misunderstandings and my inner "male chauvinistic attitudes" and your female defensiveness.  I was pleased to note that the dance you had organized was successful and we look forward now for the badges and posters of UNITA to be sent into Angola.  You have done good work, politically, while in London and I am sure your children or better our children will oblige you to do more domestic work at home as a mother.
            I would love you really to put an effort in your academic work while in Dakar and slow a bit in political encounters. And whatever you do in Dakar while alone, do remember always that Mr. Jorge Sangumba loves you very much and wants you as his wife.

With all my love, je t'embrace, ton amour,
Jorge Sangumba

Abidjan, October 15, 1974
My love Connie,
            How are you? Did you have a safe trip from London to Dakar?  Unfortunately, I couldn't be in Dakar on 14/10/74 as I expected.  I just arrived today in Abidjan going to Monrovia to see president Tolbert of Liberia and then I have to go to Freetown in Sierra Leone.  I may come to Dakar on the weekend and latest on Monday or Tuesday.  How is your academic work going?  Now you have another opportunity to polish your already good French language.
            Take care my love and until next weekend or latest on Monday or Tuesday.  Don't worry, I won't go to London without kissing you and hugging you in a very special way.
Je t'embrace, ton amour
Jorge

Abidjan.  October, 26, 19/74
My beloved Cucu,
            From Freetown in Sierra Leone we tried on 25/10/74 to get to Dakar as planned but we didn't have on time the connection.  so we came to Abidjan to get the connection to Dakar today.  Upon our arrival in Abidjan we got alot of news from Europe and Zambia.  The news are excellent.  Marques Kakumba[2]  and I were asked urgently to go to Zambia for the negotiations on united front between UNITA + MPLA + FNLA will start this week.  The Portuguese military authorities two days ago issues a communique in Angola and in Lisbon stating that UNITA never had been in contact with the Portuguese colonial government before 25th April 1974 [coup d'etat].  In December 1974 the liberation movements of Angola will form the Provisional Government of Angola.
            What does all this mean?  I will not be able to see you in Dakar at least for the next three to four weeks.  I am very sorry, but don't get upset and worried. Cconcentrate on what you are doing, finish well your thesis and then we shall be more concrete and definite about getting married.  Do write "very diplomatically" to your parents in order to get their reaction.
             Things for UNITA are now moving as I expected and at the end of this political triumph for UNITA, I shall pick up my medical books, marry and be in medical school  quietly somewhere in USA and naturally procreate as much as we can.
With all my love, ton amour
Jorge


Luso, Angola  6th November 1974
My dearest Cucu,
            It appears impossible but it is  true that I am writing you from Angola in Luso.  I was in Kinshasa three days in a very delicate mission.  I must confess that I was very frightened with that mission in Kinshasa where UNITA adversaries are consolidated.  The mission was accomplished with success and we did open another door.
            Last night I had long discussions with our leader and other members of UNITA's politbureau about our marriage.  I did put the case to them and I did ask for their revolutionary blessings.  Surprisingly, everybody was happy and their blessings were extended to me and to you.  Naturally, UNITA would love our marriage to take place inside Angola and in the liberated areas, but material conditions and time do not favour this revolutionary luxury, therefore we may marry in USA with the blessings of our parents.
With all my love, je t'embrace comme toujours,
   
Jorge Sangumba

*
*        *

Kinshasa, November, 23, 1974
My love Connie,
            How are you? How are your studies going? I am now in Kinshasa in a UNITA delegation led by comrade Jonas Savimbi.  I hope you shall have an opportunity to meet Savimbi in flesh.  He is an "extraordinary" person!...
            I may go back to London at middle of December and plans of moving out Ospringe Road are now definite.  I shall move to a more accessible and "bourgeois" area for my present work demands that.  All my collegues in Politbureau advise me to do so.  Also I shall get a small vehicle to move around London.
            So when are you going to Futa (Northern Senegal)?  Are you sure that that old man of 80 years is not strong enough to cause you social embarrassment.  I think that I will not be prepared and pleased to hear again ridiculous stories about assaults and aggressive flirtations on your person from the Senegalese men.  Those are not funny stories.  Take care of yourself, work hard and a good hug and kisses from me.
                                                            With all my love,
                                                           
                                                            Jorge Sangumba

*
*        *

Nairobi, December 14, 1974
My Love Connie,
            How are you?  I just landed in Kenya going tomorrow to Lusaka.  I am going to Lusaka to join the UNITA delegation led by brother SAVIMBI for the negotiations with the Portuguese on independence issues.  Negotiations will take place in Azores on 18/12/74.
            In the last four weeks I felt rather frustrated for failure to talk to you and listen to your New Yorkian accent, baby!  I tried several times from Libreville, Abidjan, Accra, Lagos to get hold of you in the phone, but no luck.  I am still hopeful to come to Dakar and see you before Christmas.
            I think we should get married latest in August or September 1975.  What about that?  Let me end here and wish you all the nice thoughts for today.  I am all the time wtih you.
                                                                        Love,
                                                           
                                                           
                                                            Jorge Sangumba




[1] Jorge’s nickname for  me.
[2] An Angolan businessman and  close friend of Jorge’s.
RELATED POST:

-->
Post a Comment