SOME FACTS ABOUT THE ANGOLAN REVOLUTIONARY/STRONGMAN WHOSE DAUGHTER I DATED WHEN I WAS 16.

A belated list request by @mandi. "This is real?" @alanalevinson just asked me. Yes, it's real.
  1. His name was General Henrique Teles Carreira. He was better known by his nickname: Iko.
  2. He was born June 2, 1933. Or June 3, depending on the source.
  3. He was handsome in the way that only Marxist freedom fighters were handsome.
  4. In 1961, he was among the 61 Lusophone students (and future African revolutionaries) who escaped a brutal dictatorship in Portugal, smuggled through Spain into France.
  5. He fought with the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) in the Angolan War of Independence, which lasted from 1961 to 1974.
    His exploits during the war sound like "One Hundred Years of Solitude": "He defeated the FNLA in the north and UNITA in the south..."
  6. "He was brave, assured, multi-lingual, worldly, and utterly without illusion about the cost Angolans would pay for their choices."
    According to his Guardian obit.
  7. He was the first defense minister after independence, under President Agostinho Neto.
  8. After an attempt coup against Neto, the MPLA killed thousands of suspected sympathizes of "orthodox communism."
    Carreira allegedly oversaw the secret courts and unmarked burials, though his army was definitely responsible for the killings.
  9. "In the early 1980s, Carreira went to Moscow for military training, the first African to take the Soviet Union's advanced officer course."
  10. He and other MPLA leaders were ousted in 1985.
  11. In 1987, he suffered a paralyzingly cerebral hemorrhage from which he never really covered.
    I had thought that he had ALS, but I may be confusing his condition with other suffering I saw over the years.
  12. He and his family shuttled between doctors and hospitals in Moscow, Paris, Boston, and finally Madrid.
    Which is where I enter the picture, in the most minor speaking role.
  13. His daughter, Ikena, was: stunning, brilliant, multilingual, vicious, secretive, secretly idealistic, and of unclear age, because of all the passports.
    The girl who launched a thousand lists, when I was 16, and I wrote them in my Mead notebooks. She believed, she told me once over cafe con leche, that she was born and raised to her martyr herself for Angola. She told me I could never understand and couldn't.
  14. I have only one clear memory of him: I was standing onstage during a high school musical and he was out in the darkness of the audience, reclined in his wheelchair, uncanny and still and twisted like a log on the floor of a forest.
    I remember Ikena telling me he was active and in there still. I remember her mother better; she didn't like me and would talk about me in Portuguese while I was sitting in the back seat of the car. (My parents were super-nice to her because they wanted to demonstrate how liberal they were. The biracial daughter of an African Marxist! Do you need a ride home?)
  15. He died in June 2000.
    Ikena and I saw each only a few months later, which explains the ugliness and weirdness.
  16. Ikena became a Spanish TV host, a documentarian, and is now the founder of STANDSEVEN, which is "the world's first luxury collection that supports livelihoods."
    They work with "master artisans in Bosnia, Kenya, Rwanda, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Brazil, Belize, Mauritania, Angola, France and the UK amongst others."
  17. She and I haven't talked now for 13 years--not since that terrible night in that reggae club in Madrid--but I think of her often and wish her well.
    She'd fucking murder me if she ever saw this list.