Just as the convoy of vehicles assembled off the coaster in Quelimane, our party leader, Spine (B. J.) van Niekerk, got arrested by the secret police, the DGS (Direcção-Geral de Segurança).They wanted to deport him. After a few worrying hours, it was established that the man with the same name that was on their list of undesirables was not in fact Spine! Much relief.
The return to Alto Molocue by my company, Loxton, Venn & Associates, natural resources surveyors, was to do the detailed planning for the siting of villages with their attendant three hectare plots for each family, using our original survey as a reference.
The work was interesting, but not as much fun as the first visit, as a bachelor, to unknown territory. Our hearts were not in it, however, as its purpose was what remained of the Aldeamento policy of controlled villages, and that was becoming obsolete with the events that coincided with our arrival.
In late April 1974, Caetano’s government in Portugal was overthrown in a military coup by General Spinola. A Junta spokesman, General Costa Gomes, after a trip to Angola, said that, unless a referendum decided otherwise, Portugal’s African possessions would remain Portuguese. However, the liberation movements were invited to negotiate with Lisbon as long as they first adhered to a ceasefire agreement. Therefore, until further notice, Portuguese troops in Angola, Mozambique and Guinea would not be withdrawn. Portuguese ears remained glued to their radios, wondering if this would be another Algeria.
The DGS was dissolved, to the relief of most Portuguese who had lived nervously under their scrutiny and ruthless control for years. A lot of their members fled for fear of retribution by the new liberation.
Other events were the resignation of West German Chancellor, Willie Brandt, when one of his juniors was exposed as a spy for East Germany; and the British Lion rugby team leaving for South Africa, despite much opposition throughout Britain.
My little family were based in Alto Molocue village. I had a kiaat (Pterocarpus angolensis) high-chair made for Nicci which fell over when she stood up in it and she collected a vivid bruise between her nose and lip. She could run around in her walking ring, which once plunged off the steps of the house we were renting. What a to-do! But when something amused her, like wearing my bush-hat, or when Greet played a pouncing game with her, she would laugh fit to bust.
By this time, feeling that the bush-life was not sensible for a baby, we had decided to resign from Loxton, Venn & Associates, at the end of June. I tendered my resignation to Tony Venn. He refused to pay my return to South Africa, which embittered me rather, and became what was known, only half jokingly, as the Venn-detta. (Doc Loxton later overruled him and had me paid out in full.)