Kangamba is one of the most serious and dramatic films I have ever seen. I watched it on a small television screen but perhaps my judgment is influenced by cherished memories. Hundreds of thousands of Cuban compatriots will have the privilege of watching it on the big screen of movie theaters.
The Cuban artists’ performance was great. For a moment I thought that the production had required the cooperation of dozens of Angolans. There are scenes that from the humane point of view tear to pieces the contemptuous and racist way in which the imperialists have traditionally approached African culture and habits. There are really unforgettable images of houses in flames after being hit by the rockets with which the South African rulers armed an African ethnic group to fight their Angolan brothers.
The exploits of our compatriots fighting together with the Angolans in that battlefield were really moving. Their heroic resistance saved them all from death.
Those who perished did not do so in vain. The South African Army had been defeated in 1976 when Cuba had sent up to 42 thousand combatants to prevent that the Angolan independence, for which that fraternal people had long been fighting, would succumb to the treacherous invasion launched by the apartheid regime whose soldiers were forced to pull out back to the border that had been their point of departure: the colonized Namibia. Shortly after the end of the war and the beginning of the progressive withdrawal of the Cuban combatants under pressure from the Soviet leadership, the South Africans went back to their old ways against Angola.
The battle of Cuito Cuanavale, four years after that of Kangamba –its real name—and the dramatic situation experienced at that place were the result of a wrong Soviet strategy advised to the Angolan high command. We had always favored preventing the apartheid regime’s army from intervening in Angola. Likewise, at the end of the 1976 war, we were in favor of demanding the independence of Namibia.
The Soviet Union supplied the weapons while we trained the Angolan combatants and advised their almost neglected brigades involved in fighting the UNITA bandits. This was the case of the 32nd Brigade operating in Cuanza, near the central border to the east of the country.
We had systematically refused to take part in the offensives carried out almost every year on the hypothetical or real commanding post of Jonas Savimbi, chief of the counterrevolutionary UNITA. This was over 625 miles away from the capital, in the remote Southeast corner of Angola, where they used brigades equipped with shining new Soviet weapons, tanks and sophisticated armored transportation vehicles. The Angolan soldiers and officers were thus uselessly killed when they were deep in the enemy’s territory and the South African air force, long-range artillery and troops intervened.
This time, after sustaining great losses, the brigades had retreated to a place located 12.5 miles from Cuito Cuanavale, a former NATO air base. It was at that point that our forces in Angola were ordered to send a tank brigade to that place and when the decision was made, on our own, to definitely put an end to the intervention of the South African forces. We then reinforced our troops in Angola sending from Cuba military units equipped with their weapons and the necessary means to accomplish their mission. This time the number of Cuban combatants exceeded the figure of 55 thousand.
The battle of Cuito Cuanavale, starting on November 1987, was combined with the units already moving towards the Angolan border with Namibia where the third most important war action would take place.
When an even more dramatic film than Kangamba is made, the movie story will show even more impressive episodes where the massive heroism of Cubans and Angolans shone up to the humiliating defeat of apartheid.
It was at the end of the last battles when the Cuban combatants took the risk of being hit –this time together with their Angolan brothers—by the nuclear weapons that the US Administration provided to the hateful apartheid regime.
It would be most appropriate to eventually produce a third film like Kangamba which is presently being shown to our people in the movie theaters of Cuba.
Meanwhile, the empire is stuck with an economic crisis unparalleled in its decadent history and Bush shouts his head off making absurd speeches. This is what is mostly discussed these days.
Fidel Castro Ruz
September 30, 2008