A reminder of a long-forgotten war and its long-forgotten victims

Part of the importance of this retelling is not merely for Steve Joubert to write his memoirs but to emphasise the necessity for victims and survivors of war to seek psychological help

24 June 2019 - 10:53 By Sonja van der Westhuizen
In 'Gunship over Angola' Steve Joubert combines an extensive amount of factual information on the military, as well as the details of his personal life, with multiple humorous anecdotes.
In 'Gunship over Angola' Steve Joubert combines an extensive amount of factual information on the military, as well as the details of his personal life, with multiple humorous anecdotes.
Image: Jonathan Ball Publishers

One of the ways to cope with the horrors and inhumane conditions of any war is humour. As many books, movies and TV series, such as M*A*S*H* and, more recently, Catch 22, have shown over the years, there has to be a human side to a situation where young men are forced to act against their natural instinct to preserve life.

In Gunship over Angola, Steve Joubert combines an extensive amount of factual information on the military, as well as the details of his personal life, with multiple humorous anecdotes.

We follow Joubert’s training as a South African Air Force pilot and his decision to learn to fly the Alouette helicopter due to an injury. His expertise as a helicopter pilot makes him the ideal candidate to fly missions over Namibia and southern Angola, and it is here that he experiences the violence and horror of war first-hand.

In spite of Joubert’s tongue-in-cheek style of story-telling, don’t be deceived into thinking this is light reading. The impact and destruction the war had on those involved, on a physical and mental level, is overwhelmingly apparent.

Anecdotes are interspersed with occasional graphic and violent incidents, but it’s evident that the effects of these stories will forever stay with Joubert and other participants in the border war.

At times the detail with which Joubert describes aircraft and military protocol and procedures can be slightly overwhelming. However, for any history buff, especially someone interested in the Angolan War, this book will be an indispensable source of information and entertainment.

Part of the importance of this retelling is not merely for Joubert to write his memoirs, but to emphasise the necessity for victims and survivors of war to seek psychological help. Hopefully Joubert’s version of this specific time period in South Africa’s history will remind us of a war long forgotten, as well as its long-forgotten victims.


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