Timeless honor and respect that all soldiers can share
During the peace talks at Ruacana during late 1988 an Angolan Mig pilot met up with one of the commanders of the South African ground forces, the very same forces he previously attacked and bombed with his fighter plane.
They exchanged stories and discovered the timeless honor and respect that all soldiers can share, regardless of the different systems that they believed in and were prepared to defend.
Compulsory military service
Thousands of young white men, most of them often only seventeen, eighteen or nineteen year old, were called on to do compulsory military service in the South African Defence Force. Others joined the military and became professional soldiers.
These men were told that they were fighting for the security of their country in the name of civilization and Christianity against the evil forces of communism and at the time they had no real reason to believe otherwise.
So it happened that many of these young men started to view everybody that was opposed to the South African government as communists. And even though the MPLA, SWAPO and the ANC were all Marxist movements, this perception oversimplified what these movements stood for and what they were fighting for.
Liberation of Namibia and South Africa
When President Gorbachev introduced glasnost and perestroika to his country, it not only led to the demise of Communism and the termination of the Cold War, but eventually also paved the way for the liberation of Namibia and South Africa.
The dust has now long settled on the clashes in Namibia and Angola between the soldiers of 61 Mech and SWAPO, MPLA, Unita and the Cubans. In those days the soldiers on both sides fought for a system they believed in, but those days are past now.
Those of us who have survived this war, did so by the grace of the Great Redeemer, and we can now try to extend some of this very grace to each other.
The stories of the former foes
It is therefore an opportune moment in time to invite former foes likes SWAPO, MPLA, Unita and the Cubans to tell their side of the story, and convey how they experienced the conflict in Namibia and Angola.
Hopefully this can lead to a better understanding and help to bridge the divide between the former foes. This does not need to be a bridge too far.