The soldiers, men and women, dressed in heavy greens and decorated with Kalashnikovs lead us to cubicles where we are stripped to bare skin and searched inside out for anything and everything that could catch their attention.
I proudly wore these poplin bell bottoms pants. Under my arm my sisters’ dolls which I was allowed to touch for the first time ever in my life. Inside, all the gold that my mother could squeeze in.
My innocence did not stop my determination to keep those dolls safe.
I was 7 then, it was January 16 1976.
In front of me there was a mass of camouflage greens, decorated with guns and shiny boots. I screamed. Right before my eyes a man stood with a gun pointing at the other and shouted “this is our “continuator” we must not make her cry”.
Rushed into a bus, strongly holding on to my sisters dolls, I look up to the veranda of the airport. There stood my mother waving at us and then I knew my life would never ever be the same.
We flew first to Lusaka. I have no idea if my memories are real, but the truthfulness of my memories matter not, all that matters are the vivid images of the white stairs I climbed and those that embraced me knowing we were refugees from Mozambique.
And night came, we walked down the jumbo stairs into darkness and distant sounds of bombing and artillery. We were rushed inside an empty and isolated airport. I remember the emptiness, the nothingness, the dust, the echo of desolation and abandonment and not a human soul. There we sat in Luanda, the hours passed, there was no water, no food, and no one to tell anyone what would be of us. The toilets were long forgotten, and we sat lost, moving from chair to chair. I experienced my first hunger.
Suddenly and quickly the crew helped by soldiers, brought us stale sandwiches and rushed us into an airplane. That long night in Luanda is now five minutes of memory.
I woke up screaming from the top of my lungs “SNOW”! My heart filled with a happiness that wanted to cleanse the sorrow I had just gone through. I was arriving at family fairyland. Grandmother and grandfather and uncles and aunts and cousins that would protect me and love me just like the mother I left behind.
The snow, quickly dissipates as the plain crosses the thick blanket of clouds preparing to land.
I was 7. By then I had learnt that I was an exploiter colonialist, a continuator and a refugee. I would soon learn that I was also a returnee or a returner. And most sadly, returners and returnees do not belong, there is no space for all the diseases we bring upon those that always were disease free, all the vices never known, all the crimes never committed, all the immoralities never experienced by a people that lived in absolute purity and chastity. At 7 I would learn that as a returnee and a returner I was the biblical living example of the sins of the father.