By Ryszard Kapuściński, Katarzyna Mroczkowska-Brand
In 1975, Angola used to be tumbling into pandemonium; each person who may possibly used to be packing crates, desirous to abandon the beleaguered colony. together with his trademark bravura, Ryszard Kapuscinski went the wrong way, begging his was once from Lisbon and luxury to Luanda—once famed as Africa's Rio de Janeiro—and chaos.Angola, a slave colony later given over to mining and plantations, used to be a promised land for generations of negative Portuguese. It had belonged to Portugal given that earlier than there have been English-speakers in North the USA. After the cave in of the fascist dictatorship in Portugal in 1974, Angola used to be brusquely break away, spurring the disaster of a still-ongoing civil struggle. Kapuscinski plunged correct into the center of the drama, riding prior hundreds of thousands of haphazardly put check-points, the place utilizing the incorrect shibboleth used to be an issue of lifestyles and loss of life; recording his imporessions of the younger soldiers—from Cuba, Angola, South Africa, Portugal—fighting a nebulous warfare with worldwide repercussions; and reading the atypical brutality of a rustic stunned and divided through its newfound freedom.Translated from the Polish through William R. model and Katarzyna Mroczkowska-Brand.
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The Luanda they were leaving had become a stiff and alien stage set, empty, for the show was over. Nowhere else in the world had I seen such a city, and I may never see anything like it again. It existed for months, and then it suddenly began disappearing. Or rather, quarter after quarter, it was taken on trucks to the port. Now it was spread out at the very edge of the sea, illuminated at night by harbor lanterns and the glare of lights on anchored ships. By day, people wound through its chaotic streets, painting their names and addresses on little plates, just as anyone does anywhere in the world when he builds himself a house.
But it’s quiet, and an unmoving world, holding its breath, surrounds us. We too, involuntarily, hold our breath. We stop and wait. There is no one in sight. But the sentries are there. Concealed in the bushes or in a roadside hut, they are watching us intently. We’re exposed to their gaze and, God forbid, to their fire. At such a moment you can’t show either nervousness or haste, because both will end badly. So we act normal, correct, relaxed: we just wait. Nor will it help to go to the other extreme and mask fear with an artificial casualness, or joke around, show off, or display an exaggerated self-confidence.
The homeless harbor children gazed at him with greedy, fascinated eyes. The soldier lifted his juice-smeared face, smiled, and added, “But anyway, we’ve got a home now. ” He stood and, rejoicing in the thought that Angola was his, shot off a whole round from his automatic rifle into the air. Sirens sounded, seagulls darted and wheeled over the water, and the city stirred and began to sail away. I don’t know if there had ever been an instance of a whole city sailing across the ocean, but that is exactly what happened.