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Have You Ever Heard About the Tragedy of Angola?
Most people think words like drought, floods, war, starvation and so on about Africa. Its desert and tropical climate causes natural disasters. Wars are continuous in Africa, because African nations have been divided and controlled by West European countries for a long time.
Angola, located on the Atlantic coast of southwestern Africa, is one such African country. Angola became independent from Portugal on Nov. 11, 1975. Within two months, however, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) started to fight each other. The country was well on its way to being divided into zones controlled by the rival political groups. At the end of a fierce fight between the MPLA and the UNITA, the MPLA proclaimed the People's Republic of Angola in November 1976. However, this was not the end of the civil war but the beginning of a full-scale war.
The United States supported UNITA in order to prevent spread of communism on the African continent through sending Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) advisers to the UNITA troops. At the same time, the Republic of South Africa regarded Angola as the front-line between itself and militant black nationalism. So, they also supported UNITA. On the other hand, the Soviet Union and Cuba dispatched about 50,000 troops to support the MPLA. Because the superpowers were drawn into the conflict, this civil war was called "African version of the Cold War."
Jonas Malheiro Savimbi, the leader of UNITA, was killed during a battle in UNITA territory near the Zambian border in Feb. of this year. The two main opposition parties, UNITA and the MPLA, agreed to a cease fire in April. The long civil war was over.
More than 500,000 Angolans were killed during this civil war and about 4,500,000 people lost their homes. Thousands of people died by starvation and disease per ONE DAY. Poverty and disease are rife throughout the country. According to the Doctors Without Borders, which is aiding Angolans in UNITA-held territory, the situation of Angola is the worse than it has ever been.
Western countries put themselves under a great obligation to Angolans by making them go through hardships and privations. However, they don't care about nor actively support Angola. Most people all over the world were extremely excited by the brilliant play of some African countries, including Senegal, in World Cup 2002. Actually, they were not concerned about tragedy occurring in Africa.
Even Korean people showed such an attitude. The situation of Angola doesn't inspire sympathy in Koreans. However, a tragedy similar to Angola's is buried in Korean's collective experience. Korea also had been under Japanese rule for 36 years. After liberation, Korea was divided into two countries because of the Cold War. Although South and North Korea are "ONE" country, the civil war continues. Koreans were reminded of this during the latest naval clash between South and North Korea near the western maritime border on June 29.
Can Korean people say that Angola's tragedy is just a remote nation's story?

Kim Hye-jeong  bbejeoi@dongguk.edu

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