a presumed dead Kavango woman was reunited with her family last week in Rundu.
Maria Kahale (43) was kidnapped by Unita rebels in the late 90s and was forced into marriage with the man whom she later fell in love with.
She says, on the day of the kidnapping from Ndama Location in Rundu, she had crossed the Kavango River in the company of friends to visit a relative in Kalayi.
While on the river bank, they were suddenly surrounded by armed men.
“They took two of us who appeared older and ordered the canoe man to row the rest back to the other side of the river,” narrates Kahale.
In Kalayi, Kahale and her fellow victim were kept in a dark hut for two days before being taken to a military dwelling near Luiana.
She would be introduced to her husband-to-be (a soldier), a certain Jose Pereira Kusumwa.
Kahale says she suffered a lot, mentally and physically while living with Kusumwa.
“I suffered so much at this point, force was used in everything that was being done to me,” said Kahale.
Soon after that, her friend Rosa disappeared and never saw her again.
“She just disappeared one morning. Later on, I was told she was taken to Mavinga where she died while giving birth,” Kahale said.
In the winter of 1999, after arriving in Ndjamba, the Unita rebel headquarters at the time, she was forced to marry Kusumwa while four months pregnant with his first child.
The wedding ceremony, Kahale said, was nothing she dreamed and hoped for as a child.
Instead of men in suits, she said, they were clad in military uniforms and most of them stood around with guns.
“There was no ring, no wedding gown and I don’t remember seeing a man in a suit,” she said.
She spent the entire time with her husband in Ndjamba and when the Angolan civil war ended in 2002, they’d become a normal couple.
Instead of heading back home to Namibia, Kahale and her husband, along with their two children moved to the town of Luena in the east of central Angola.
She said her husband inherited his father, an ex-Unita brigadier’s fortune and the family has had a good life ever since.
“I didn’t come back home sooner because I thought my mother had died a long time ago. I thought I didn’t have a life here anymore. But I just found out that she was still alive this year,” said Kahale.