In the text that follows, Monsignor Keiling describes a series of adventures about the Huambo Mission, initially installed next to the place where the civil administration would later be built, at Norton de Matos Avenue, and shortly after, in 1910, together to Rio When:
Leaving Caconda and heading north, we will reach, after almost 150 kilometers, the city of Huambo. If someone, fifteen years ago, going from Caconda to Bié, heard that a city was to be built in this place, they would hardly believe it. And yet today it is a fact.
The place where the city is located is the watershed; from here they flow to the Atlantic and others to the great basins of the interior, and to the Indian Ocean.
It enjoys a temperate climate and can be called cold at certain times of the year. The terrain is of mediocre quality.
We had long thought of founding a Mission in Huambo and already in 1896, speaking of this land, the crying Father Lecomte, my predecessor, wrote: “After the Bailundo tribe, Huambo is the one that most captivates us. I intend to establish a Mission there soon. ”
Pthese natives sustain a real war against the beasts. The lions seem to have sworn to kill these people. Each week, numerous mortal wretches serve as pasture for the king of forests. If we give credit to the legend, the lions' love for these people comes from afar. It dates from the beginning of the world: tunde nunde, they say. They count, in fact, that at the dawn of creation, men having multiplied somewhat, they gave them lions, and with such courage that in the short term only one remained. The latter, discouraged and not knowing what to do with his sad life, wandered sadly through the woods, fearing to live because he did not feel well alone, but fearing that he would die of the death of all his fellow men.
One day he sees a young lion coming towards him. He thought it would serve as food. He had no idea to defend himself. For what ? Resigned to his luck, he closes his eyes, ducks his head and waits. What was his amazement and astonishment when, instead of feeling the animal's teeth dig into his flesh, he heard this animal speak to him and ask him why he was so sad. He answered frankly and confessed to the discouragement that had invaded his soul. Adding that, as it was his last moment, everything was ready for everything.
- ”What last moment, not even a last moment, interrupts the lioness. You are alone and there is a curious coincidence that I am also a widow. Why should you not found a great libate and be the trunk of a powerful people? I'm not old yet ".
The man accepted and the illustrious Huambos tribe left this union.
- ”As you can see, the Huambos say with badly disguised pride, the origin of our race is illustrious. “
It is perhaps because of this that lions later devoured them beautifully. It was proof of the veracity of that word: Memento, homo, quia pulvis es et in pulverem reverteris, which they translated as: "Remember, man, that you are a lion and the lion will come back".
The indigenous population was very dense before the 1902 war, as there were over 80,000 inhabitants in an area of one hundred square kilometers. But at the time of the revolt, it fell somewhat, because of the lives then cut. It then continued to decline as they fled the neighborhood of roads first, after the vicinity of the Railway.
The Huambo region is, par excellence, the region of the great rivers: here the source is Cunene, Cubango, Cunhangâmua, Calai, Queve, etc ... It is an exciting spectacle to contemplate these rivers that now spread and as if they stretch, along the banks, now they plunge into catadupas and seem to want to sow death and devastation with their sparkling waves of anger. Sometimes, on the bottom of the white sand, small fishes are seen passing by, gliding smoothly, as if they have no other care, except to enjoy the life that God has given them. Others, over the waters, float one like a greenish stick, similar to a rotten tree trunk; but whoever considers it attentively soon discovers that it is an alligator in search of prey that, carelessly, has let itself sleep. It is also not uncommon to see the waters suddenly boil in caches and from among them the hippopotamus appears, who comes ashore to take a walk and as if to take a sunbath. But, just as the whole medal has a reverse, these beauties also have their unpleasant side; in general, the banks of these rivers are swampy, sterile and unhealthy.
If we look away from the rivers and head towards the woods, we discover huge blocks of granite, vertically reared, often split from top to bottom, in the direction of the crystallization plane, formed by monoliths of 20, 30 and often more meters height.
There are more than 50 that, seen from a distance, no one will fail to take for gigantic buildings, reminiscent of these medieval castles, covered by Europe, when our ancient cathedrals, armed with multiple towers, are not recalled.
The Mission was founded in 1910, near the Railway, in the place now occupied by the administration. The first dwellings were already being designed, in the space destined for vegetable gardens, the first banana trees were next to the stout cabbage chunks, while a little further, the oxen harnessed to the plow turned the land and prepared the future harvest of wheat, when the Directorate dos Caminhos de Ferro lifted an embargo, ending that portion of land to be understood in the space reserved for the future city of Huambo.
We had to leave the place and look for another one. We headed east to find a place that could serve us to have the workshops at the same time. We walked for eight days, two of my companions and me, traveling these surroundings in all directions. We visited Candumbo, went to Tahilua, and thought about building in this place. A white man we met there, asked for 12,000 $ 00 for a piece of land (it is important not to forget that we are in 1912, and that at that time, 12.00 $ 00 was a handful of money), also told us to build on the opposite bank of Cunene , and we should take a levada, whose water we would leave at his disposal half the week. It didn't suit us. My companions, called by their jobs, who were waiting for them in their Missions, (one was from Bailindo and the other from Cubango) were forced to leave and I continued alone. After a thousand laps, all in vain, I decide to go home. I order the paths to wait for me on the right bank of the Cuando River, where I pretended to be in the middle of the afternoon, and I ride a horse. What passages that day would have to give, Holy God!where Cuando could wade. They answer me that there was no favorable place and I had to go around the source. In Africa there are no difficulties, which detain the Missionary. Do I need to take a walk? Everything happens and everything is said. It was the pathways who found my delay prolonged and thinking that I, without a doubt, had already gone to the Mission, on the other way, they prepared everything and set in motion. After walking a lot and getting tired a lot, I reached the place where the car had been camped. You could still see the remains of the fire they had made. But what is the use of the breath, who is tired and hungry? ... Hunger, no; appetite.
It was night. One of those nights, when you don't know in Portugal who has the electric light to supply the moon, a black night, not allowing you to take another step. I tied the horse to the trunk of a tree, I recommended myself to God, to the Blessed Virgin, to the Guardian Angel of the future Mission, and I leaned against the mount, reclining my head on a rock, which served as a pillow. As it is easy to guess, I cannot say that I slept very well, but I went through sleep.Late in the night, I hear a thump close by, which I had not paid attention to when I arrived.
It was a waterfall that, if it didn't sing, snored, so much was the water it carried! Like a lightning bolt, it gives me an idea inside. A waterfall !!?… But where there are waterfalls, there is a passage. I waited anxiously for the morning to break. As soon as dawn broke, I started for the river. What a beautiful waterfall! The trees on one side and the other seemed to be looking at the cleanness of the current. About 80 meters above the beginning of the waterfall, I discover a splendid passage. I'll put the horse there. I explore those places. I'm delighted. The desired location was found!
Little by little, depending on what our resources allowed us to do, as we were determined not to be burdened with debts, and for this foundation the Government did not even compete with a ceitil, little by little, as he said, the different houses, and when in 1920 I went to Europe, I could no longer let Father Vieira build the houses, which still today form the Cuando Mission.
The Missions of Huambo and Bailundo are close and similar. Bailundo and Huambo are two denominations of the same tribe, the same origin, the same ancestral affinities. same customs and traditions. These two Missions, established in two blessed corners of the Benguela plateau, also have great affinities. Equally surprising are the results obtained on populations. The only emulation that these affinities give rise to is that of doing the greatest good possible. In Bailundo there are more Christians, 47,000, since it was founded 15 years before Huambo, which already counts 38,000. But its schools amount to 450.
The influence of Catholicism on the mass of the population is increasingly profound. It is enough proof that the large number of Christians, who flock from all sides, on feast days, constitutes an authentic flood.
If we pass from the indigenous to the Europeans, what can we say?
There is Nova Lisboa with 4,000 whites, many families with numerous children. This fact cannot leave us indifferent. Every Sunday and holy day there is a Father of Mission, at 5 am, at the disposal of the indigenous people for whom there is a special Mass at 8 am. At 10 it is the Mass of the Europeans and assimilated. There is practice at both Masses: the first in an indigenous language; the second in Portuguese. After Masses, the Father prepares the children for their first communion, after which, tired, he retires, very late.
In addition, there is religious assistance along the Railway. On the 1,347-kilometer route, there are beautiful chapels built, which it is necessary, from time to time, to visit, celebrating the feast of the Patron whose religious solemnity consists of Mass, procession, solemn blessing, communion of children and confirmation.
I will add to this that, having the Companhia do Caminho de Ferro Lobito-Catanga as its central workshops in Nova Lisboa, it will get the energy and lighting from a hydroelectric power station installed inside our property. For this reason, the mills and other facilities disappeared, but the Company compensated us principally.
For the installation of different workshops and, in particular, the printing shop, new buildings were built, which cause admiration for everyone. And the Company provides us with electrical power and light for the entire Mission.
In addition, nothing new, from a material point of view, except a few more hectares added to the old fields.