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Narsiso ‘Gomie’ Gomes
A Portuguese-speaking South African war hero: one among many
o desconhecido herói durante Operação Savana, soldado de língua portuguesa do Batalhão 32, Koevoet

With over 500 years of Portuguese influence in southern Africa, and two Portuguese colonies, the Portuguese impact on the sub-continent was always going to be substantial. In the regional competition for power, coupled with ethnic divisions which paid no heed to international borders, the military situation was always going to be fluid. What happened in one territory inevitably spilled over into another. And good fighting men were always going to be in demand.

The story of ‘Gomie’ Gomes is only one of many of the fighting men of Africa; men who grew up in a Portuguese colony, who were absorbed into a fighting force, and who eventually practised the only thing they knew: war, for their adopted country, but often more for their unit. Like the French Foreign Legion, for these Portuguese black Africans the unit became their family and their home. The politics around it was secondary, if of any value whatsoever. What is remarkable is what these men sacrificed for their new country, South Africa. Some experienced frontline combat for over fifteen years, constantly at war with the enemy, sometimes as far as ‘the other side of the river’. Many paid the highest price and are buried in northern Namibia or southern Angola. But the survivors were, without exception, tragically abandoned by the South Africans, used and rejected

Some photos of the race






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