|These recollections will be published as part of a collection of memoirs in the series “Oral history of forgotten wars”. They contain information little known not only to the broader public but also even to professional military historians. And the difficult battles, of which the author was a direct participant in 1987–1988 (at that time as a Lieutenant and interpreter), sharply changed the geopolitical situation of at least three states – Angola, Namibia and South Africa.
The following historical events – the independence of Namibia in 1989, the transition to a non racial society in South Africa in 1994, and the conclusion of the twenty seven year civil war in Angola in 2002 are to a significant degree linked to the battles around Cuito-Cuanavale, which took place during 1987–1988 in the south of Angola.
The English edition of these recollections consists of two major parts – a diary, which the author kept from October 10 to December 3, 1987, in his capacity as military interpreter of the twenty first FAPLA brigade (a diary of the combat period) and also his own oral narratives.
Almost intentionally, in these recollections, the taperecorded memories, of the Russian officer, Igor A. Zhdarkin, cruel and frightening in their candour, were almost not at all edited. They were produced at the Africa Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences on 28 October, 2000, 25 November, 2000 and 6 October, 2001, as well as during frequent meetings at his home during the period, 2000–2007.
One should add that many native and even more foreign academic and journalistic studies, not to mention articles dealing with the Angolan civil war and the events during 1987–1988 are, at best, full of “inaccuracies”, to put it mildly.
Perhaps in this way these recollections should fill certain gaps in our knowledge dealing with the events which occurred within this country.
As far as concerns the author’s tales about his subsequent service in Mozambique during 1990–1991, in the UN forces in Angola during 1996–1998, and on extensive missions in various parts of the world, it is planned to publish these sometime in the future.
Dr Gennady Shubin,
Senior Research Fellow
Institute for African Studies
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