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Another Day in Life

Another Day in Life by Polish journalist Ryszard Kapu%u015Bci%u0144ski is the story not about the war, but about new beginning, the end of imperialism in Angola, and the fall of the iron curtain between some European nations. In the period when the Portuguese were pulled out of Angola, the chaos and division witnessed in the country did not originate from the Angolan people. The major cause and initiative were in hands of the major world nations, which strived to promote their opposing and different agendas, in the decolonizing nation.

In September 1975, things were falling apart in Angola. No one could even dare to think of visiting the state, and every reasonable person was heading out its borders. These events, however, did not prevent one brave journalist (or perhaps a rash one) from going there to write a story that was to tell the world about the nation, being on the brink of collapse and in dire need of self-determination. Moreover, it was a period when the Portuguese citizens were being pulled out of Angola. Portugal was the last colonial empire in the process of decolonization. This process begun after the Second World War, bringing to an end the neo-imperial empires that had been founded prior to the First World War. The establishment of the colonial empires is what referred to as imperialism. Essentially, at first, European countries had extended control over remote areas in Africa and Asia, thereby controlling the economy, politics, and social life of the population. The process of decolonization was aimed at achieving autonomous home rule for the colonized countries.

September 1975 was the time for Angola, as the Portuguese were pulled out and the country could decide the future of the nation on its own. In essence, this should have been the happiest day for the Angolan people, the fact that they managed to get self-rule, for which they had fought for so long, should have been enough to make them satisfied. However, a sharp reality and contrast was what the country faces. There were chaos and divisions in the nation, as the country grappled with the very urgent needs for self-determination. In the book, Another Day of Life, the author gives a vivid description of the situation in Angola after the Portuguese forces had been pulled out. He describes the nation that gone mad as numerous revolutionary and counter-revolutionary movements strived to gain control over the nation.

The revolutionary movements received support from many countries in both Africa and Europe. It was this support that was causing all the chaos and divisions experienced after the Portuguese were pulled out. The writer notes that the chaos and divisions were caused neither by the army forces advancing and retreating, nor by battles won and lost, and nor by confrontation between the forces of the evil and righteous. It was not even because of the beginning of the state of anarchy; however, it was because of the rivalry and competition between the liberation movements for the achievement of control of the now free nation. Among the liberation movements that were at the forefront was the “Movimento Popular de Libertacao de Angola” (MPLA), which was supported by Russia and Cuba. The second movement was the “Uniao Nacional para a Independencia Total de Angola” (UNITA), which was supported by the United States of America and the Republic of South Africa. The liberation movements fought for the control over the country, bringing the population and the whole nation to its knees. The support of the two groups by the two opposing nations, that were Russia and the US, reflected the poor relations between the countries during the period of the Cold War.

Kapu%u015Bci%u0144ski portrays the people of Angola in the light of selfishness and obstinacy; even in the face of a common enemy, they were unable to set aside their differences and form a united front, to fight for the common interest of their country. They were gullible people, who were exploited by foreign powers to fight their own wars in another country, and they were exploited by their internal leaders to turn on their own people and cause havoc, in the country, with remarkable ferocity. What existed in Angola was the proxy war between the Soviet Union and the US, which in essence reflected the extent to which the world largest nations were willing to engage their opponents in the far-flung battlefields and showed the imperialistic nature of these nations, in as far as exerting their influence and control was concerned. The state of affairs in Angola was deplorable, as captured by the writer. He aptly states, “There may be water indeed, but there are no lights. It is dark. The moon does not rise; there are only stars, but somehow far away, pale and not very helpful. It is not a good place to neither sleep nor inhabit, mainly because houses have been destroyed and looted. Nor is the cookery to be recommended. On the physical floor of the hotel, in a puddle of dried animal blood, lies a slaughtered goat that has already begun to stink. Anyone who is hungry craves out a hunk of meat with a bayonet”, (Kapu%u015Bci%u0144ski, 2010).

In his book, Kapu%u015Bci%u0144ski creates a vivid picture of the then country, sunk in the war and chaos. The writer tells the reader about the littered airports with suitcases of those fleeing from the country, roads and highways blocked with stones, car wreckages, and the foul smell of the dead bodies thrown around the city. All these chaos and confusion brought about by the selfish desires of the liberation movements, which were fueled by external forces who tried to defend their own interests. It was this selfishness that had brought the country to its knees, and the inability of the civilians themselves to what to stand for that engendered chaos and division.

In the book, the writer states, “the image of war is not communicable, not by pen, or the voice, or the camera” (Kapu%u015Bci%u0144ski, 2010, p. 96), to indicate just how impossible it was to capture everything that he had seen and went through, in the war torn Angola. Throughout the book, the author tries to illustrate how the states of things were; he captures the broken down the nation through the paralyzed towns and the littered airports and blocked roads. He includes sorrowful and painful snapshots throughout the book. He writes of the MPLA prisoners; to convey the real state of affairs in Angola better, he tell the story of a boy who “looks twelve” and “who knows that it is shameful to fight for the FNLA, but they told him if he went to the front, they would send him to school afterwards. His desire is to finish school and become an artist in painting” (Kapu%u015Bci%u0144ski, 2010). The writer captures the situation in the country comprehensively; however, the reader who has not witnessed the events on his or her own will fail to imagine the desperation and fear of the then nation.

The purpose of the book is to make readers aware of the fact that the situation in the country was worse than the author could even describe. He could not capture the horror and anguish of those that perished or the devastating effect the war would have on the nation for many years to come. The writer intended to communicate that the end of war is neither when the guns fall silent, and the killings stop, nor when people can freely walk on the streets and go to the markets and bars. He describes the silent weekends where everybody remained indoors, not even a gunshot could be heard, and yet the war was being fought. People lived in a constant and deep-rooted fear and trepidation of not knowing what awaited them in the future. Even the most accomplished writers could not capture all these things. The target audience for this message was the countries that had pushed the liberation movements in the opposite direction and, therefore, causing this war. These countries had fueled the war and now they stand far moved in the battlefields not caring for the consequences. He intends to pass a message to these countries, as they may not get the full picture that came out of their actions.

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