Kutala Chopeto

Kutala Chopeto
 is the collective name of
Teresa Fimino and Helena Uambembe.
The collective started as an investigation
into our uncomfortable history
and an attempt
to rewrite
and change

We take different stories that are told to us by our elder and members of the Pomfret community that has ties to the 32 Battalion. We restructure the stories in a way that confronts difficult question yet we try to understand it and use it with caution. Many of the stories are very sensitive, we often find that re-engineering them could be a violent act, we often feel that we are imposing in these people live, even though the some of the stories are very personal and are stories of our families.

In the two video we tell the story of Elena and Sophia both these characters have been fictionalized but the stories are based on true stories that happen in Buffalo, Namibia, the first military base of the 32 Battalion soldiers and their families and in Pomfret, South Africa, the second and final military base of the 32 Battalion.

Elena’s story is of a little girl talking about her deceased father and his boots that she was responsible for; she tries to make sense of his death. The story itself is very graphic, so to sensitized it we used a video of boots being polished. This was an activity Elena did when her father was still alive, every day after school she polished her father’s shoes; it had become a ritual, which had abruptly and violently ended.

Elena’s story is based on a true story, during South Africa’s military campaign in Angola and Namibia from 1975 to 1989, where a group of about 15 soldiers were ambushed and killed. 32 Battalion was a unit within the South African Defense Force but it was made of Angolan refugees who were persuaded to fight for South Africa. The 15 soldiers that were ambushed were Angolan.  Their bodies were returned to the Buffalo base and were displayed in front of the community hall, where the whole community could see their bodies being displayed, even the children got a glimpse.

The second story is of Sophia where she tells of a story of a man who killed his wife. The man, who was a soldier, had started another family and the wife had found out. She confronted him, she was willing to do anything to keep her husband to herself. The man was enraged that she had confronted him and in an instant he beat her so badly that she died. It was as if all that anger and trauma he had been bottling up for his days in the battle field, he had taken it out on her.

We feel that these stories that where once denied finally get a chance to be heard and it allows the people who have kept the stories secret for so long a chance to grieve.