Lt. Col. Antunes Cahale, 54, who sprays the wounded bodies of all enemy soldiers with gunfire to insure that they are dead, still harbors a strong anti-white bitterness that developed while growing up in colonial Angola.
Initially rejected for entrance into the colonial African elite status of assimilade "because my skin was too black," Cahale still recalls that 30-year-old memory with tears in his eyes. It was the hate and resentment of that rejection," he said, "that led him to join the UNITA guerrillas in 1965 when they were fighting against Angola's Portuguese colonizers.
Cahale was born Jan. 3. 1923, at Chilesso Evangelical Mission station in Bie Province, the son of peasants. "My parents were classified as indigenas, the legislated African class that had no rights of citizenship in Portuguese Angola, he said.
"Our lives were miserable," he said. "We were very poor."
At an early age Cahale began to attend the Chilesso Mission's elementary school with the idea of moving out of the indigena class. "I went to that school because the Portuguese schools were not open to Africans of any class," he said. "Only the missionaries had schools for Africans."
In 1942 he began teaching in the lower primary-school grades while he was still studying. To get an assimilado card you had to prove you could read, write and speak Portuguese fluently," he said. "I was determined to get one."
Five years later, Cahale was the second-grade teacher to guerrilla leader Jonas Malheiro Savimbi, whom he would later follow when he joined UNITA.
"At night all the students had to study by a fire together, and Savimbi would break the school's rules and bring food with him to eat," Cahale recalled fondly. "When a teacher came he would hide the food or run away, but he was a good student."
That same year, he said, he went to the Portuguese colonial administrator, Jao do Carmo Reis. of Andulo, to apply for assimilado status.
"I will always remember his name." Cahale said. "He told me I was too black to be an assimilado . That it was only for mesticos ," those of mixed white and African ancestry.
Afterward, Chalae said, he began to hate the Portuguese. "I felt it was not necessary for us to learn to read or write because they were lying about treating us equally if we did," he said.
"I wanted to be an assimilado because the life was easier," he said. "I could avoid the high income tax the indigenas had to pay, and it would be easier for me to buy things and travel in the country."
With a letter from the missionaries at Chilesso, Cahale went to the Portuguese administrator of Massinde and managed to get an assimilado card several months later.
"Reis was angry when I returned." Cahale said. "He told me now that I was an assimilado I must never eat, drink or be friendly with the black indigenas , including my parents. But I was still considered an indigena whereever I went. The Portuguese couldn't believe I had qualified as an assimilado . They said I was too black."
Joao de la Abeimo is a 47-year-old Portuguese who lives with his black Ovimbundu wife and seven mestico children in the UNITA occupied areas of Huambo Province.
"I am not black, but I am Angolan." said Abeimo, who migrated to Angola from Portugal in 1958 at 28. "I was a house-builder, but I only had a third-grade education. There was no work for poor people in Portugal, so I came here to make my fortune."
The first town he settled in was Mungo, where he contined to build houses. Then he went to work as a chauffeur and, finally, became a shopkeeper. When it first became clear in 1974 that Angola was heading for independence, Abeimo said, he knew he would stay.
"I thought I would stay here permanently because I am an Angolan, my wife is an Angolan and my children are Angolans." Abeimo continued. "I was not afraid. I never had problems with the African population and I felt I would stay until independence.
"I became a UNITA follower because it had the most followers in this area. I rejected the Popular Movement because I don't like their ideas that everything belongs to the people, even my things."
On Nov. 24, 1976, Abeimo said. Popular Movement soldieres came to his shop in Cassenji. "They told me I would have to move to Bela Vista [a town on the Benguela railroad] because they were taking all the Portuguese there. I refused, and then they stole all the things in my shop."
The same day, Abeimo said, he moved out to the countryside to seek protection from the UNITA guerrillas. "Now I am a farmer," he said. "If I am to die, I prefer to die here."
Jose Antonio Casimiro, an Angolan-born Portuguese UNITA guerrilla, said he is fighting "to defend my country against Russian imperialism. I can say that because I was born here 25 years ago. I am Angolan."
Casimiro said he was born in Lepi, a village on the Benguela railroad. His immigrant Portuguese father and Angolan-born Portuguese mother are both dead.
"I speak better Ovimbundu than some of the Ovimbundu assimilados ," he said, in reference to the dominant tribe in the area where he grew up. "My father was a Portuguese peasant who ran the butcher shop in Longonjo village. All of my friends were Ovimbundu, and I joined UNITA when they did, - on Oct. 2. 1974."
From December 1975 to December 1976, Casimiro was hospitalized at the Dondi Mission Hospital recuperating from leg wounds received during fighting in Luson against government forces.
"The government soldiers used to come to the hospital sometimes to see if there were any UNITA guerrillas there," he laughed, "but they never thought I was a UNITA guerrilla."
"I can continue fighting until I die." Casimiro said. "The government is made up of black Portuguese," he sneered. "I am a white Angolan."