Marcus Samondo, a 22 year old from Angola who is studying at American University has become a victim of an effort by Congress to deny federal funds to African governments now out of favor with the United States.
On the same day that Samondo received his monthly stipend from the U.S. Agency for International Development, he also received a telegram advising him that the check would be his last.
The sudden suspension of the $430 a month stipend Samondo, an economics student, had been receiving since 1975, left him stunned, confused and without prospects of obtaining funds to pay for food, rent and future tuition.
His plight is similar to that of 23 other Angolan and 16 Ugandan students studying in the United States, according to federal officials.
The law involved is section 114 of the fiscal 1978 Foreign Assistance Appropriations Bill, which denies aid to Angola and Mozambique. Another section of the bill denies aid to Uganda.
Speaking last night of the suspension of student stipends, an official of AID which administers federal spending on foreign education an deconomic development said, "We had no alternative."
"Our general conusel said the wording of the law applied to these students," said the official, Dennis Conroy, AID's director of African Regional Affairs.
The AID funds had been coming to the Angolan students through the African American Institute, a New York-based organization that contracts with AID to deal with the students.
On Tuesday, the day the stipend arrifed, Samondo received a telegram from the institute that said: "Deeply regret to inform you that your scholarship placed in grave jeopardy due to AID interpretation of congressional foreign assistance act. No program funding for your continued support, effective immediately."
"I felt very shocked, Samondo said, "because they (the institute) signed a contract with us for four years. I don't know what to do," he said. "My first concern is what to eat, pay the rent and maybe find a job." But his student visa limits work to a maximum of 20 hours a week on his campus.
Samondo left Angola in 1975 as one of 15 students chosen to participate in an AID education program by the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), one of the three warring Angolan factions that then formed part of a transitional government. But now it is out of power and fighting against the country's Marxist central government (MPLA).
Samondo said last night that with the Cuban and Soviet-backed MPLA government in power at home, he is afraid to return.
"We are not cooperative with the MPLA," said Lodi Omadeke, 24, another of the Angolan student. He attends George Washington University and shares a $200 a month Arlington apartment with Samondo.
"There is no way we can explain to the present government if we go home that we left school because Congress cut our funds," he said.
Omadeke, who said he left his home town in northern Angola just before it was overrun by Cubans in February 1976 said that if he returned he would probably be suspected of spying for the U.S.-backed UNITA faction.
Samondo and Omadeke, both studying economics, said they have two years before receiving their degrees. Although they said they have been notified by both telegrams and letter that their stipends have been suspended, they said they have not yet been ordered to leave the country.
They said other Angolan students who had been receiving AID stipends are in New York, Arizona and Indiana.