IN THE NAME OF THE PEOPLE: ANGOLA'S FORGOTTEN MASSACRE
BY LARA PAWSON
11.99 [pounds sterling] IB TAURIS ISBN 9781784535216
Lara Pawson's brilliant 2014 book, now in paperback, is an extraordinary piece of investigative journalism. It delves into a murky period of Angola's recent history to uncover the truth about a little-known incident in 1977, which Angolans refer to, usually in hushed tones, as vinte e sete (27th May) when many thousands were killed, jailed and tortured, ostensibly by the Movimento Popular de Libertacao de Angola (MPLA) ruling party and Cuban soldiers.
Pawson, who happens to share her forename with the surname of the founder of the MPLA, Lucio Lara, digs deep and meets survivors and witnesses (as well as perpetrators) to reveal an episode that many would prefer to forget.
Pawson relentlessly chases down people who should know what exactly happened on that fateful day, but the reminiscences seem to vary alarmingly, on occassion throwing up more questions than answers.
But there is one thing that is certain. Many died in this purge against a clique described by the propagandists of the day as "factionalism".
She equates the awful savagery with which the ruling party put down dissent within its own ranks with the far better known Gukurahundi massacre in Zimbabwe's Matabeleland; again perpetrated by a ruling party--ZANU--using North Korean trained soldiers.
She makes the point that her sympathy towards the heroism that the MPLA symbolised in Africa's liberation struggle was severely shaken.
But Pawson was no naive young journalist. Indeed, she has a history of reporting on Africa that she can be justifiably proud of.
She was for a number of years a stalwart of this very magazine, doing much to shape it into what it has become today, simply the world's finest African business magazine.