17 August 2008

August Weekend #2: Huambo (The War)

Reminders of the civil war were everywhere in Huambo, which happened to be a major center of control for the opposition party, UNITA. Bombed-out buildings were common, and even park statues did not escape becoming targets. That said, there is a lot of fast-pased reconstruction going on in the city, and it’s interesting how easy it was to tour the bombed-out former house of the opposition leader (Savimbi) formerly known as the “White House.” There is absolutely nothing stopping anyone from walking right into the ruins and even walking up the exposed concrete stairwell. So we did, of course.

View from the second floor of Savimbi's house:

Front view of Savimbi´s house, with UNITA flags:

Building apparently used for target practice:

Hint of happier times at the New York Social Club:

Bombed-out high rise:

While waiting to see if Burch could figure out how to get down from the rock he had so victoriously climbed, Emilio, Chinho, Rebecca found a shady place to rest. Emilio started telling a story about what life was like during the war in very graphic detail (I have to warn the rest of this entry is pretty macabre…proceed at your own risk).

He told stories of soldiers killing babies and, when their parents were found, they would chop up the body parts and make a stew which the soldiers would then force the parents to eat. “Isto aconteceu aqui em Huambo” he kept repeating…”This happened here in Huambo.” This kind of story might seem familiar to someone who has ready about intimidation tactics in other wars throughout history, but the chilling part is that this kind of stuff was going on only six years ago. In other words, while I was running financial models in my company’s grand effort to sell more jeans in San Francisco, parents in Angola were being forced to eat their offspring. More chilling still is the fact that this kind of stuff is probably happening as we speak in Darfur. It’s not fun to think about.

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