For a couple of times, I was close to finish my days in the savannas of the Okavango.

Amongst others, I survived an attack of a wounded lioness and other of a leopard. One of my mates was seriously wounded by a dying lion and another was killed by an elephant.

Apart from being bitten by a baboon in my leg when I was trying to capture her baby, I was lucky and nothing really serious happened to me.

Life was really terrific in the Okavango until the war broke up in 1967. Because Portugal refused to give independence to the colonies, in 1961 the war started first in the north of the country and in 1967 in the south.

I was 18 when I started becoming involved with the trail of death and destruction always related to wars.

Previously to join the army, like most of the youngsters, I picture the war as you see it in the movies: lots of heroes, acts of bravery in every corner and people dying with smiles in their faces.

I read all about Che Guevara, Ho Chi Min, Sun Tsu and I looked forward to the day I could contribute with my knowledge of the jungle, to the war effort.

I honestly believe that I was going to fight for a just cause and be able to change things.

By the time I joined the army I had finished my degree in Electro-Mechanical Engineering but I volunteer for the infantry instead of the Engineering Corps.

I received 6-month training in guerrilla warfare and was incorporated with the rank of lieutenant in the 3857 Special Hunters Batallion.

My company was nicknamed The Scorpions and stationed in Mavinga and our mission was to keep the peace in an area of the size of Tasmania.

Pontal do Sul

South African Army - Mavinga 1996


Oficers training - Nova Lisboa 1974

Pontal do Sul

The Scorpions - Cuito Cuanavale


Rebuilding a Bridge - Lomba River, Cuando Cubango 1972

I was happy to be sent to Mavinga where my parents lived. I was going to fight to protect what was mine in first place. I married one month before my company received the marching orders.

For two years we fought mainly the MPLA from the Kimbundo tribe, a group that holds the power at present in Angola.

During these two years, I woke up to reality and learned that there is nothing pleasant about the war.

For the first time, I witnessed the transformation that occurs when men faced the fear of death and the frightening experience of losing a battle and being hunted like an animal.

We fought very hard during those two years, our company and the para-military forces on our side lost 35 men. I received an award for bravery in action during the period.

After two years we were replaced in the front and sent to Sá da Bandeira, a small city in the south of Angola, to rest.

On the 25th of April 1974, a revolution in Portugal put the communists in government and they decided to give independence to the colonies.

The revolution found me still in the army, in an officers training center in Nova Lisboa, where I stayed until discharged at the end of 1974.

Then, the nation that sent me to war, told us that the cause for which we fought for 14 years and so many lost their lives was the wrong one…

That was one of the biggest lessons of my life but probably a blessing experience for the years that followed the independence.

The politics behind Angola’s independence were very complicated and thanks to Mr. Gorgachev probably outdated by now, but I will try to give you a summary of my conclusions.