Looking after a power generation and distribution company stretching for more than 600 km in a country at war cannot be considered a stable and safe job.
Probably because of that, I had never had people aspiring for my job and position and I was able to live for 5 years in a senior position without having to fight jealousy, very common when we are at the top.
During five years the few qualified people in the company spent their times traveling from one extreme of the company to the other fixing and starting-up power stations, repairing overhead lines, etc.
Traveling to one of the power stations, with my wife and daughter, we saw the car in front of us being blown up by a missile. On the way back the Unita guerrillas left a letter in the middle of the road apologizing for the inconvenience but the ambush was not meant for us, the power people. Tough luck for the ones who died.
In less than 2 years 90% of the industrial and agricultural activities of the country came to a halt.
Food was extremely difficult to obtain, medical care and schooling almost nonexistent.
Corruption and mismanagement of the country’s resources were, and I am sure still are, the dominant note in the day to day activities.
Dishonest dealers from all over the world flocked to Angola offering big money in Swiss accounts in exchange for obscure deals.
Biópio Substation - Angola 1977
Lumaum Hydro Station - Angola 1977
Leba Montain - Sá da Bandeira 1973
Morro do Alemão - Nova Lisboa 1970
For you to have an idea what I am talking about, I will nominate just a few of such business that I was aware of:
• Angola bought a large fleet of farming machinery (cultivators) to be used in a country where agriculture on a large scale was nonexistent. The machines rotted away and were cannibalized for parts for other vehicles, the first thing to go was the tires, slashed and turn into sandals.
• USSR equipped the major Angolan airports situated in an equatorial zone with the latest equipment including, of course, snow cleaning equipment for the runways.
• A ship arrived loaded with French champagne and camembert cheese when people couldn’t buy bread or milk in the shops.
• Hundreds of Volkswagen beach bugs for government use.
• I received two gas turbines driven generators sets (10 MW each), bought by the Minister of Industry and Energy. The sets were from Stall Laval and a result of a job cancelation. The sets were equipped with gas firing equipment (the center of Angola does not have gas), and the generator voltages were not compatible with our grid. I was advised not to complain too much for obvious reasons.
• I was asked to order some Zeppelins to patrol de overhead lines. Fortunately, I managed to “talk” the Minister out of it. The dealer, a Brazilian fellow, convinced the Minister that Zeppelins were the ideal craft for areas without airports. You just throw the anchor and stop the balloon when you want to get out.
I could be here all night talking about these type of things.