Helena Uambembe: Listening to images of 32 Battalion

POSTED ON: April 30, 2021 IN Keely Shinners, On Artists, Word View

by Keely Shinners

From 1966 to 1990, during the Apartheid era in South Africa, an estimated 600,000 men — most of them school-leaving white men — were conscripted for national military service in the South African Defence Force (SADF). They underwent training and were deployed to fight against liberation movements in Namibia and Angola. [1] These conflicts in neighbouring countries have been rather vaguely described as the Border War, both at the time and in contemporary literature. They formed a part of the National Party’s total response to what it perceived as a total onslaught of communism and African nationalism, and as a result, the state regularly enacted violence against its own citizens in an attempt to suppress anti-Apartheid resistance in South Africa. [2] A useful way to think about the function of the SADF might be found in Achille Mbembe’s Necropolitics (2019): “Power … continuously refers and appeals to exception, emergency, and a fictionalised notion of the enemy. It also labours to produce the same exception, emergency, and fictionalised enemy.” [3] 

Information about the war was highly censored during the Apartheid era. Still today, there is a disconcerting historiographical gap in how the war is remembered, or not remembered, in South Africa. [4] Theresa Edlmann writes:

Regardless of where and when conscripts served, most South African civilians lived in ignorance of the details of conscripts’ day-to-day lives, their whereabouts and their activities. The lack of information and understanding that conscripts experienced was enforced through the requirement that every conscript sign compliance with the Official Secrets Act.This sense of being silenced has continued in post-apartheid South African society, as conscripts have been widely regarded as agents of the apartheid state whose stories belong in the past. [5]

Even less remembered is 32 Battalion, a special-forces unit within the SADF made up largely of Black Angolan men. Many of them had previously fought for the United States and Israeli-backed National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA) until its disintegration in 1976. After a nearly twenty-year on-again, off-again war, the FNLA failed to seize Luanda from the Soviet and Cuban-backed People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) on the eve of Angola’s independence from Portugal. [6] Many FNLA soldiers moved as refugees to Zaire, while part of them were taken under the wing of the SADF, forming 32 Battalion. They were deployed as counter-insurgency forces in Angola and Namibia. Later, following Namibian independence in 1990, the unit was withdrawn to South Africa, where they aided the South African Police (SAP) in quelling anti-Apartheid uprisings in townships. [7]

Most South Africans were unaware of 32 Battalion’s existence until it was disbanded in 1993. [8] Nearly 20 years later, 32 Battalion figures little in the contemporary imagination, partly because of its top-secrecy. But 32 Battalion is particularly un-remembered for how it unsettles already-unstable power dynamics. A former (white) member of the Battalion puts it this way: “We were fighting alongside a ton of different races and nationalities — from Ovambo to Xhosa — and the word ‘apartheid’ didn’t exist to us … Our allegiance was to each other, our unit, and then, maybe, somewhere down the line, the government.” [9]

Whether other soldiers in the Battalion felt or remembered the same allegiance is, I think, unlikely. Even so, the threat to Apartheid apparatuses of separation within its own defence force signals some troubling questions. How do we understand issues of nationality in a war fought on shifting borders fabulated by colonial power, fighting enemies produced by colonial power? How to reconcile a rupture of racial hierarchy within a war fought against any and all perceived threats to the racial hierarchy? How to understand Black soldiers’ participation — to varying degrees of willingness and coercion — in a war fought in the name of racial capitalist domination? How to witness the soldiers’ resulting trauma as well as the moral injury done to the culture as a whole? 

There is little political consciousness — neither in South Africa’s ever-alive anti-Black ideologies, nor the current administration’s one-directional struggle mythology — which can embrace these experiences. “Without a politics,” Susan Sontag writes, “photographs of the slaughter-bench of history will most likely be experienced as simply unreal or as demoralising emotional blow.” [10] Any archive that remains of the Battalion is not only demoralising but irreconcilable and is, thus, often un-commemorated. 

Enter Helena Uambembe, the daughter of Angolan parents who fled the civil war and whose father was a soldier in 32 Battalion. She attests, “In doing research I found that the black men and women who were the lifeline of the Battalion have been erased in the archives. I find it necessary to document and preserve these untold stories of the recruits, many of whom are now dying.” [11] One such project began in 2017, when she visited and interviewed the former Commanding Officer of 32 Battalion. [12] The photographs he showed her laid the foundation for the series Confidential Histories (2019)

Confidential Histories III, 2019. Lithograph on paper (Courtesy of the artist)

In one, five (white) commanding officers — in uniform, berets and all — are lined up for a photograph. They are smiling. History does not yet remember them as culprits; instead, they are some of the most decorated soldiers of their time, with a reputation for leading the most elite troop of mercenaries in the SADF. [13] In another, members of the Battalion are marching across a field, their insignia proudly bannered and displayed, while a crowd of infantrymen parade behind them. In this image, the secret division does not seem so secret after all, but the pride of the white nationalist state. So intolerable are these photographs, which so obviously and unapologetically celebrate the white nationalist state (both the immeasurable violence and moral injury it enacts), they are completely overlooked (or swept under the rug) by both governmental and cultural institutions. They live on as personal photographs. Souvenirs. Mementoes. An archive borne by, and dying out with, the individual. 

Confidential Histories V, 2019. Lithograph on paper (Courtesy of the artist)

Why does Uambembe choose to resuscitate these images? Does she mean to publicise them? Memorialise them? Who are we remembering or mourning when we regard these images? The soldiers? Their victims? The whole rotten social system of war? What, exactly, do photographs of military conflict do? Jane Blocker posits:

Photographs of military conflict, it may be said, do everything. They bear crucial witness to tragedy and inform the world about inhumanity and violence. They foment dissent, produce affect, and inspire ethical response. At the same time, it may also be said, pictures of war and its consequences do nothing. Commodities in the global trade of crisis imagery, they participate in neoliberal logics and the spectacle of Western empire. They are a part of a superficial commerce of false empathy. For the victims of war, it might even be said that these images do less than nothing. [14]

It may be said that pictures of war, in this case, do nothing, insofar as they do not undo atrocities committed by the white nationalist state. Neither do they reverse the exoneration of its architects and enforcers. But that is not Uambembe’s aim. This work does not publicise or analyse. These are neither awareness-raising nor humanitarian images. They name neither perpetrator nor victim. They do not galvanise action. Neither are they nostalgic. The act is not documentation — whereby the (supposedly) neutral lens of the camera serves as a bystander to conflict — but the materialisation of what is unthought, unremembered. Uambembe’s concern is not necessarily for past harms, but for how unexamined pasts harm in the present. 

In another image from the series, the Battalion is on patrol through the bush. The camera is aimed at the white solider facing it. He appears to be smiling. Taking up most of the frame, however, is a Black soldier. Not facing the camera, he is silhouetted. Not smiling, his rifle is couched in his gloved hands. This image reminds the viewer that the Border War required what Njabulo Ndebele would call a “fatal intimacy” [15] and Mbembe a “mass murder-suicide.” [16] The Border War required that “the power and capacity to dictate who may live and who must die” [17] be exercised on and through Black men and women. In other words, colonial occupation was (and is) upheld by orbiting death around the colonised and the colonised around death on all sides of the proverbial border: in the bush, in townships, and within the SADF’s own ranks.

Confidential Histories II, 2019. Lithograph on paper (Courtesy of the artist)

In the photograph, the soldier’s barrel is edging the photograph’s frame, as if about to fire a shot into the present, poised to thwart a neoliberal logic which says, look how far we’ve come. I am reminded of this quote from John Berger: “The word trigger, applied to both rifle and camera, reflects a correspondence which does not stop at the purely mechanical. The image seized by the camera is doubly violent and both violences reinforce the same contrast: the contrast between the photographed moment and all others” (author’s emphasis). [18] I disagree. The violence here — what makes this image triggering — is the continuity between the photographed moment and all others. Despite the disbandment of the SADF and overthrow (or, some might say, back-staging) of the National Party, the “function of racism [which] regulate[s] the distribution of death” [19] remains largely unshaken. Furthermore, these photographs have endured a state of being un-remembered — what Koleka Putuma would call “collective amnesia” [20] — which is a kind of second-death, or a social death. Orlando Patterson says social death occurs when a person has no access to “conscious community of memory.” [21] Frank B. Wilderson III elaborates: “Social death is narrative absence, not a crisis within narrative.” [22]

Take two recent re-tellings of the Border War in the cultural imaginary, Kanarie (2018) [23] and Moffie (2019) [24]. These films have produced distinguishable victims — the underdog, who is white and gay, in the case of Kanarie; white, gay, and English in the case of Moffie — and villains (the Afrikaner machismo officers who torture and humiliate them in the training camps). Black actors hardly figure at all. When they do, they are depicted more so as props than characters. Moffie’s filmmaker, Oliver Hermanus, admits to it: “It was a dangerous choice, I know, to have all the black characters be physical objects, victimised on the sidelines, but that’s how it was.” [25] In an opening scene in Moffie, a mob of white conscripts throws a bag of vomit at an elderly Black man as he waits at a train station. He looks at them writhing out of the boxcar windows. He says nothing. He barely even moves. In another scene, the protagonist and so-called victim, Nicholas, shoots an Angolan soldier in the dark of night, then watches, silently, as his breath tapers off. The effect “permits an affective distancing through the production of a far removed ‘other.’” [26] This encounter, the murder of the “other,” inspires feelings of guilt and anxiety — empathy, even — but it’s a suffering which, in the words of Saidiya Hartman, is “occluded by the other’s obliteration.” [27] This film returns quickly to the main storyline, which punts critique on hyper-masculine heteronormativity and Christian nationalism, leaving Nicholas, and the white liberal audience members identifying with him, off the hook. In Kanarie, anti-Black violence is so threatening to the victimisation of white gay men in the film that the filmmakers refuse to rehearse it. Instead, they use montage. The actors pose wordlessly — as if being photographed, not filmed — in scenes that recreate acts of violence, even murder, in quick succession. The imitation of still photography, here, objectifies the violation, rendering its victims static and mute. In other words, absent. 

Uambembe’s retelling confronts these narrative absences. It also emphasises how deliberate these absences can be. Each image in Confidential Histories is stamped with the word confidential. The question foregrounded is not, what are these photographs? But rather, why were these photographs hidden? In this way, “the photograph serves not only as a historical document or source, but also as a reflexive medium that exposes the stakes of historical study by revealing the constructed nature of what constitutes historical evidence.” [28] In this case, Uambembe takes historical evidence and highlights the act of its erasure from the archive, and furthermore, collective memory. “I also made use of a linocut of a buffalo head, which is the insignia of 32 Battalion,” Uambembe says. “The linocut serves as a stamp, in an attempt to certify the history.” [29] This stamp certifies both the photograph as historical document and the act of its erasure as historical document. Uambembe employs lithography in lieu of reprinting the photographs, so that “every mark on the images gets transferred, even the tearing, folds, and wrinkles.” [30] The act of reproduction, then, becomes a resurrection. A resurrection of the photographs, but also, all they have endured between the pull of the trigger and now. 

In that resurrection comes no small amount of pain. This is a horror that can never fully be reconciled, and in reading and writing about this image, I am made keenly aware of my limitations of feeling and knowing as someone for whom the experience of systemic and historic proximity to death is unfathomable. I defer to Zoé Samudzi, who describes:

Despite the vast scholarship that provides a framework for understanding social death and Black materiality in the afterlife of enslavement and in the aftermath of the Haitian Revolution, I can’t translate the intense feeling of sadness, the overwhelming inability to fathom the sadism and psychopathy of whiteness/white supremacy. It’s an inter-generational ache of unfulfilled ambition and freedom dreams deferred, an indescribable rage and vicarious humiliation in hearing the stories of others and witnessing the conditions in which too many live. [31]

How to bear all that in an artwork? One can’t, I don’t think. One can only try to bear witness. But part of the problem is what Samudzi describes, that “the act-obligation of bearing witness is troubled when you’re confronting phenomenon or atrocities that demand you create a grammar for processing what you see as you’re seeing it.” [32]

The final image I’ll discuss from the Confidential Histories series completely evades me as a viewer. What’s happening here? Men are digging. Digging what? Graves? Is this image the long-lost bookend to John Liebenberg’s Grave site at Uupindi? [33] Are they soldiers who were forced to do this? They are not uniformed. Perhaps they are the locals on whom the Battalion relied for water. [34] If so, maybe these are ditches, not graves. No matter the case, this photograph makes a mockery of my blind spots, reveals the limits of my understanding, and discards me as an adequate witness. 

Confidential Histories IV, 2019. Lithograph on paper (Courtesy of the artist)

I have no grammar for processing what I’m seeing as I’m seeing it, not only because the photograph is vague, but because its afterlife eludes. Bearing adequate witness, one would have to account for a soldier’s trauma and its fragments woven into a family, a history, a culture. In a sense, one would have to witness a durée. Here, I am referring to Henri Bergson’s notion of durée, that is, in the words of Jane Harrison, “There is a stream of life in time … that is one. Each of us is a snowball growing bigger every moment, and in which all our past, and also the past out of which we all sprang, all the generations behind us, is rolled up, involved.” [35] In this way, one would have to bear witness to trauma not as silenced or erased, but compounded.

Uambembe, as the daughter of a 32 Battalion soldier, might be better-positioned for this task. Her father may not tell her everything that happened to him, in the bush, before, or after. He may tell her nothing at all, to make his silence into a shield that might protect her. She might learn to listen to his silences, to hear what unsayability says. She will learn her own silences too, which subjects to edge around lest speaking them out loud trigger an outburst. Being born in Pomfret in the North West — where many Angolan soldiers were relocated following the Battalion’s disbandment — she would have seen how veterans, like her father, attempted to make safe homes and meaningful lives in a desert town nearly 3,000 km from Angola and 200 km from the next nearby town. She would have watched — or heard by word-of-mouth from former neighbours — how the town slowly deteriorated, following the closing of the military base in 2000 and the transfer of ownership to the Department of Public Works. Citing the risk of asbestos-related illnesses stemming from the old mine, visible on a hillside just beyond the perimeter of Pomfret, Uambembe would have witnessed local and national government’s plan to relocate residents and demolish the town deferred for twenty years. All the while, looters would ravage the town, public spaces would deteriorate, water and electricity access would become increasingly scarce. With no jobs in Pomfret, and no support from the state, veterans would be recruited as mercenaries for private and government-backed operations as far as Kosovo and Iraq. [36]

Jo Ractliffe, ‘God with us,’ Pomfret, 2011. Silver gelatin print (Courtesy of the artist and Stevenson Gallery)

To understand the story of 32 Battalion is to go beyond the barracks, beyond the archive, through time, where collective amnesia doesn’t just damage the collective psyche, but makes ruins out of future-dreams and renders disposable of the un-remembered as they live. Some artists, like Jo Ractliffe, have tried to do it for her series The Borderlands (2013). Although her photographs of Pomfret go little beyond narratives of absence, neglect, and decay: a donkey guarding the abandoned asbestos mine, a public works sign graffitied God with us, a template for a grave. [37] Ractliffe bears witness to death, or rather, the allegory of death. Uambembe wants to bear witness to a continuation, a durée. I am reminded of this quote from Molly Brodak writing on the ruins of Detroit: “The isn’t about death. Death is pretty clean, a clicking shut; it’s life rot belongs to, its survivors who see and smell the decay — this is living.” [38]

Uambembe evokes durée in her series of shadow-works. In one video, Can you hear me (2018), Uambembe casts her silhouette over a photograph of Agostinho Neto (leader of the MPLA), Holden Roberto (leader of the FNLA), Munyua Waiyaki (Kenya’s foreign minister under the tutelage of President Jomo Kenyatta), and Jonas Savimbi (leader of National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, or UNITA). Taken in January 1975, the leaders of the three opposing movements — who had been fighting on-again off-again since the 1950s — gathered in Kenya under the invitation of President Kenyatta with an aim to ‘unite the parties.’ [39] Promises of a coalition government and united army helped to form the Alvor Agreement, signed 15 January 1975, which finalised Angola’s independence from Portugal, ending the War of Independence. [40] Within twenty-four hours of the signing, however, fighting broke out in Luanda amongst the FNLA and MPLA, marking the start of a bloody (and expensive) transition towards independence (scheduled for November of that year), implicating powers as far as Cuba and the Soviet Union (supporting the MPLA) and the United States and Israel (supporting the FNLA). [41] As previously stated, when the MPLA eventually took power, many FNLA soldiers joined 32 Battalion. I say ‘joined’ when, in reality, these soldiers, some of them still teenagers, had to choose between living as refugees in Zaire or enlisting in the SADF, who promised them land in South Africa in exchange for their service. 32 Battalion soldiers were then resigned to protect and aid UNITA in their attempted overthrow of the Marxist-Leninist MPLA, a war campaign that lasted until 1988. The civil war continued well beyond South Africa’s involvement, ceasing only with the assassination of Savimbi in 2002. [42] All in all, between 500,000 and one million people died in the 27-year-long conflict. [43]

Can you hear me, 2018. Single-channel video, 1:13 min. (Courtesy of the artist)

In the video, Uambembe frantically paces before the photographed men, as if she could stop them in their tracks. She tosses her skirt in frustration, as if her anger could cast a shadow of guilt over their future plans. She gets down on her knees and pleads, as if this plea could reverse time, reverse the damage done to family, community, country, social psyche. The gesture, perhaps, is futile. Invoking the notion of durée, however, Uambembe recognises a past which is not past. Like Christina Sharpe says, “the past that is not past reappears, always, to rupture the present.” [44] If that is the case, this work seems to ask, can the present rupture the past? Might some healing or reconciliation be found should she try to speak to the men whose decisions rippled into the making of her life? The poignant title, Can you hear me — stylised without a question mark becomes not an appeal to the void, but a call to action: to make the past listen so that bearing witness to the past feels less like mourning, more like a conversation, with the aim to name and heal wounds criss-crossed over time. 

Eu vou morrer em Angola, 2019. Photographic print on Baryta paper (Courtesy of the artist)

Another shadow-work is Eu vou morrer em Angola (2019). In it, the soldiers have weird smiles on their faces, as if caught between posed and surprised. Light refracts off the sweat on their faces. The man in front looks young; he is smiling, showing off his gap-tooth, wearing a light-heartedness on his face which occludes the rifle in his hand, the heavy ammo belt, water bottles held close like treasures. The men to his left and right shoulder look, to me, equally young and somewhat nonplussed by the camera, though not unwelcoming of its gaze. The man second from the right, however, looks tired and a bit perturbed. It’s his face Uambembe’s shadow is pivoted towards. She reaches out a hand, as if to wipe his brow, caress his face. Its title, which translates in English to I will die in Angola, is evocative and engages multiple interpretations. The photograph speaks, retrieving a life before it was lost too soon on the border. Or, I will die in Angola goes the other way entirely, envisioning a death which has not yet occurred, a return to home, a proper mourning. Here, Uambembe rehearses a collapse of temporality in which she could reach out and caress his face, or retrieve a life before death. She practices what Tina Campt would call “listening to images.” [45] JB Brager elaborates this concept well: “Listening as an act attached to a portrait connotes dual action — one listens and the other speaks — which restores temporality (and therefore, humanity) to that which is plucked from time or trapped in the past, prevented from forward motion.” [46] Eu vou morrer em Angola attempts to heal a temporal wound, relieve the photograph from being forgotten and, in so doing, recognises durée between the past photographed and their contemporary witnesses.

The photographs Uambembe has recuperated from the official/unofficial archive of the Border War is but a drop in the water of the images and memories waiting to be witnessed. The ways in which Uambembe is able to witness those images — to think critically and compassionately about unsettling and often unresolved histories — speaks volumes about the work we can and must do as inheritors of this archive and its legacy. Hopefully, with enough care and attention, we can find a grammar for listening into the past — where we can learn from lives not-yet-forgotten — and into the future — beyond regulations of death and disposability, a future which hasn’t happened yet, but must.

Keely Shinners is a writer based in Cape Town. Their essays have appeared in journals such as James Baldwin Review and Safundi, as well as the publications ArtThrob, Africanah, Mask, Flaunt, Full Stop, and Autre. Keely is the founder and editor of [in review] and a co-founder of Best Friend Club. Their first novel, How to Build a Home for the End of the World, is forthcoming from Perennial Press. 


Notes.

[1] Theresa Edlmann, “Negotiating Historical Continuities in Contested Terrain: A narrative-based reflection on the post-apartheid psychosocial legacies of conscription into the South African Defence Force” (PhD diss., Rhodes University, 2014), vii.

[2] Edlmann, “Negotiating Historical Continuities in Contested Terrain,” vii.

[3] Achille Mbembe, Necropolitics (Durham: Duke University Press, 2019), 16.

[4] Julie Taylor, “The Borders of Memory: About the Exhibition,” Guns & Rain, 15 April 2020, https://gunsandrain.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Guns-Rain-_-Tuli-Mekondjo-Helena-Uambembe-_The-Borders-of-Memory-_-April-2020.pdf.

[5] Edlmann, “Negotiating Historical Continuities in Contested Terrain,” 4.

[6] “The Angolan Civil War (1975-2002): A Brief History,” South African History Online, 2015, https://www.sahistory.org.za/article/angolan-civil-war-1975-2002-brief-history.

[7] Piet Nortje, 32 Battalion: The Inside Story of South Africa’s Elite Fighting Unit (Cape Town: Zebra Press, 2004), xiii.

[8] Gemma Hart, “KutalaChopeto // Home is not a place anymore – reimagining histories of belonging,” Bubblegum Club, July 26, 2018, https://bubblegumclub.co.za/art/kutalachopeto-home-is-not-a-place-anymore-reimagining-histories-of-belonging/.

[9] Quoted by Gavin Haynes, “32 Battalion,” Vice, April 3, 2010, https://www.vice.com/en/article/9bdbvp/32-battalion-409-v17n4.

[10] Susan Sontag, On Photography (London: Penguin Classics, 2008), 19.

[11] Quoted by Nkgopoleng Moloi, “Artist Helena Uambembe confronts a painful past and compresses time,” Bubblegum Club, March 14, 2019, https://bubblegumclub.co.za/art-and-culture/artist-helena-uambembe-confronts-a-painful-past-and-compresses-time/.

[12] Quoted by Moloi, “Artist Helena Uambembe confronts a painful past and compresses time.” 

[13] Piet Nortje, 32 Battalion, 5.

[14] Jane Blocker, “Book Review: Distant Wars Visible: The Ambivalence of Witnessing,” Journal of American Studies 50 (2016): 276.

[15] Njabulo Ndebele, “Foreword,” in Categories of persons: Rethinking ourselves and others, edited by Jacob Dlamini and Megan Jones (Johannesburg: Picador Africa, 2013), 2.

[16] Mbembe, Necropolitics, 11.

[17] Mbembe, Necropolitics, 11.

[18] John Berger, Understanding a Photograph (London: Penguin Classics, 2013), 32.

[19] Mbembe, Necropolitics, 17. 

[20] Koleka Putuma, Collective Amnesia (Cape Town: uHlanga Press, 2017), 8.

[21] Orlando Patterson, Slavery and Social Death (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1985), 15.

[22] Frank B. Wilderson III, “Close-Up: Fugitivity and the Filmic Imagination: Social Death and Narrative Aporia in 12 Years a Slave,” Black Camera, An International Film Journal 7, no. 1 (2015): 135.

[23] Oliver Hermanus and Jack Sidey (dirs.), Moffie, (London: Portobello Productions, 2019).

[24] Christiaan Olwagen (dir.), Kanarie (Cape Town: Marche Media, 2018). 

[25] Quoted by Guy Lodge, “’It’s a triggering film’: visceral South African drama Moffie,” The Guardian, April 15, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/film/2020/apr/15/moffie-triggering-film-south-africa-toxic-masculinity-oliver-hermanus.

[26] Zoé Samudzi, “White Witness and the Contemporary Lynching,” The New Republic, May 16, 2020, https://newrepublic.com/article/157734/white-witness-contemporary-lynching.

[27] Saidiya Hartman, Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-Making in Nineteenth-Century America (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), 19.

[28] Tina Campt and Jennifer Tucker, “Entwined Practices: Engagements with Photography in Historical Inquiry,” History & Theory 48, no. 4 (2009): 3.

[29] Quoted by Moloi, “Artist Helena Uambembe confronts a painful past and compresses time.” 

[30] Quoted by Moloi, “Artist Helena Uambembe confronts a painful past and compresses time.” 

[31] Zoé Samudzi, “Memory and ‘memory,’” Medium, August 27, 2018, https://medium.com/@zosamudzi/memory-and-memory-c8b6e134e40c.

[32] Samudzi, “Memory and ‘memory.’”

[33] John Liebenberg and Patricia Hayes, Bush of Ghosts: Life and War in Namibia 198690 (Cape Town: Random House Struik, 2011), 240.

[34] Haynes, “32 Battalion.” 

[35] Quoted by Peter Howarth, The Cambridge Introduction to Modernist Poetry (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 27.

[36] Christopher Clark, “Pomfret, possibly the most depressing town in SA,” The Citizen, November 14, 2018, https://citizen.co.za/news/south-africa/2036373/pomfret-possibly-the-most-depressing-town-in-sa/.

[37] Jo Ractliffe, “The Borderlands,” Stevenson, July 25, 2013, http://archive.stevenson.info/exhibitions/ractliffe/index_borderlands.html.

[38] Molly Brodak, “On the Flood,” Poetry Society, February 27, 2013, https://poetrysociety.org/features/in-their-own-words/molly-brodak-on-the-flood.

[39] “After the Angolan Unity Talks at State house in Mombaso … January 1, 1975,” Alamy (accessed 30 April 2021), https://www.alamy.com/jan-01-1975-after-the-angolan-unity-talks-at-state-house-in-mombaso-image69479339.html.

[40] “Alvor Agreement,” Britannica (accessed 30 April 2021), https://www.britannica.com/topic/Alvor-agreement.

[41] “The Angolan Civil War (1975-2002): A Brief History,” South African History Online.

[42]  “The Angolan Civil War (1975-2002): A Brief History,” South African History Online.

[43] “Angola: civil war,” Mass Atrocity Endings, August 7, 2015, https://sites.tufts.edu/atrocityendings/2015/08/07/angola-civil-war/.

[44] Christina Sharpe, In the Wake: On Blackness and Being (Durham: Duke University Press, 2016), 9.

[45] Tina Campt, Listening to Images (Durham: Duke University Press, 2017), 5.

[46] JB Brager, “See, Hear,” The New Inquiry, June 2, 2017, https://thenewinquiry.com/see-hear/.



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