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Sunday, 10 August 2008

A photo from the past. Saigon 1968/9

The North Vietnamese were very different in character from the South Vietnamese.
Many were part of the nearly one million catholic refugees who had fled south after the partition in 1955. Often whole villages led by their priests.

Others for more political reasons. The father of the young woman in this photo, fairly prosperous, had been taken away by the communists one night and never seen again. Later in the south an uncle, a provincial governor, had been on the wrong side in one of the numerous coup d’états. Curiously when President Thieu, himself the product of a coup d’état , became President, this uncle had been charged with insurrection against the same régime that Thieu himself had helped overthrow. If all that seems complicated that was the state of affairs.

In any case the life in the north had always been much harder than that in the south. The northerners had never accepted French domination and had always remained at the heart of resistance to foreign control of their country.

As a foreigner it was often difficult to understand the thought processes of the northerners who often showed little emotion. When one did it was usually too late. The southerners would get angry, explode and then forget about it five minutes later.

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