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Voices From an Empire

Voices From an Empire: A History of Afro-Portuguese Literature

Copyright Date: 1975
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 464
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  • Book Info
    Voices From an Empire
    Book Description:

    The literature of the various regions of Lusophone Africa has received relatively little critical attention compared with that which has been focused on the work of writers in the English- and French- speaking countries of Africa. With the profound changes which are occurring in the social and political structures of Lusophone Africa, there is particular need for the comprehensive look at Afro-Protuguese literature which this account provides. Professor Hamilton traces the development of this literature in the broad perspective of it social, cultural, and aesthetic context. He discusses the whole of the Afro-Portuguese literary phenomenom, as it occurs on the Cape Verde archipelago, in Guinea-Bissau, on the Guinea Gulf islands of Sao Tome and Principe, in Angola, and in Mozambique. In an introduction he discusses some basic questions about Afro-Protuguese literature, among them, the matter of a definition of this body of writing, the implications of the concept of negritude, the role of Portugal and Brazil in Afro-Portuguese literature, and the social and cultural significance of the dominant literary themes found in the various regions of Lusophone Africa. Because he sees the regionalist movement in Angola as the most significant in terms of a neo-African orientation, he begins the book with an extensive study of the literature of that country. Many examples of afro-Portuguese poetry are given, both in the original language and in the English translation. There is a bibliography, and a map shows the African regions of study.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-6279-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
    R. G. H.
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. xi-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-22)

    When Gomes Eanes de Zurara, official chronicler of the Portuguese court, wrote his panegyricFeitos da Guiné(Exploits in Guinea, 1453) he did more than set down the deeds of the first Europeans to penetrate sub-Saharan Africa. Zurara, who himself never went beyond Morocco, helped form some of Europe’s first impressions of black Africa. And along with their unique role as revealers of Africa to Europe, the Portuguese, over five centuries, have continually added to a mythology of their sacred mission on the so-called dark continent. They have held firmly to their attitudes even when other European nations openly denounced...


    • CHAPTER 1 Social and Cultural Background of the Modern Era
      (pp. 25-31)

      Portugal’s largest overseas province (three times as large as Texas and nearly fourteen times as large as Portugal itself) derives its name from the wordNgola, dynastic title of the sixteenth-century Mbundu kingdom, the Mbundu being one of the major ethnic groups of the Kimbundu people. Bounded on the north and northeast by Zaire (Congo Kinshasa), on the south by Southwest Africa, on the east by Zambia, and on the west by the South Atlantic, Angola has had a singularly tragic and, in some ways, glorious past.

      The Portuguese arrived north of the Angola region, at the mouth of the...

    • CHAPTER 2 Colonialists, Independents, and Precursors
      (pp. 32-58)

      A considerable body of literature, mainly prose fiction, and almost exclusively cultivated by Europeans about Africa, appeared in the 1930s and the 1940s, although there were scattered antecedents as early as the late nineteenth century. The authors of these works often labeled them “colonial novels,” an apt term in view of their inherent Western ethnocentrism. Of all the Portuguese colonies Angola has served most as the setting for these novels, primarily because more settlers and colonialists descended on that territory than on any other.

      Most colonial novels have little literary value, some having been written by colonels and other military...

    • CHAPTER 3 “Let’s Discover Angola”
      (pp. 59-68)

      Carlos Ervedosa wrote that in 1948 thosefilhos da terrawho wrere just coming of age took stock of their situation and came forth with the slogan “Vamos descobrir Angola!” (Let’s Discover Angola!)¹ Bessa Victor channeled his Angolanness into timorous expressions of nativism; intellectuals born during the twenties, thirties, and forties intoned their slogan with fervor and sometimes with anguish. Out of this new awareness came the Movimento dos Novos Intelectuais de Angola (Movement of the Young Intellectuals of Angola) and in 1950 the founding of the Associação dos Naturais de Angola (Association of the Native Sons of Angola). This...

    • CHAPTER 4 Toward a Poetry of Angola
      (pp. 69-128)

      At the height of its literary activity, from about 1951 to 1961, Angola’s young generation struggled with the problem of poetryinversus poetryofAngola, the latter being naturally their goal as a sign of regional maturity and a readiness to take their legitimate place among other autochthonous literatures. Intellectuals such as António Cardoso inclined toward a condemnation of the Angolan’s slavish imitation of European literary forms, and in his already mentioned editorial note he confronted the problem when he wrote that the situation is confused and perplexing since anyone can confer on himself the honorific title of Angolan...

    • CHAPTER 5 Prose Fiction in Angola
      (pp. 129-160)

      The short story rapidly became a popular genre in Angola as writers took cognizance of their cultural and literary circumstances in the 1950s. For a number of reasons, lack of resources and time being two, the novel was little cultivated by the generation of aware writers. More novels would probably have been written if the literary thrust had not come to an untimely end in the 1960s. And because the short story offered them a more reflective vision of their reality than did poetry, some of the writers began to experiment with the longer novella. Another reason for the popularity...


    • CHAPTER 6 Portugal’s East African Province
      (pp. 163-167)

      In his bookLuanda, “ilha” crioulaMário António speaks of the Cape Verde archipelago, the Guinea Gulf islands of São Tomé and Príncipe, Angola, and Brazil as Atlantic regions that share certain cultural aspects. He excludes Mozambique obviously because of its location on Africa’s east coast and also because its historical and cultural development differs from that of the Atlantic areas, particularly as far as patterns of acculturation and civilization are concerned.

      Mozambique lies in southeastern Africa, bordered on the north by Tanzania and Malawi, on the south by South Africa and Swaziland, on the east by the Indian Ocean,...

    • CHAPTER 7 Mozambique’s Modern Literary Climate
      (pp. 168-177)

      Rui de Noronha, who died in 1943 at the age of thirty-four, left a collection of poetry calledSonetos(Sonnets), which was published posthumously in 1949 and apparently was considerably revised by the editors. Thismestiçopoet borrowed from a European tradition of Parnassian-like verse, and within the fixed metrics of his poetry he occasionally rose to heights of exhortation. This is exemplified in “Surge et ambula” (Arise and Walk), one of his most frequently quoted and anthologized sonnets in which he calls on a supine and somnolent Africa to stand up and march shoulder to shoulder with the rest...

    • CHAPTER 8 Euro-African Writers
      (pp. 178-194)

      I have chosen to adopt Euro-African as a term that applies both to those writers who shun the regionalistic for a more universalist expression and to those who, while they may employ a regionalist thematic, do so more as spectators to the incipient events of an Afro-Portuguese literary expression in Mozambique. Euro-African writers can be identified in the other areas considered, particularly in Angola, but in Mozambique they are more in evidence, because of the lack of a more or less coordinated cultural and literary movement equivalent to the “Let’s Discover Angola!” group.

      Alberto de Lacerda and Reinaldo Ferreira represent...

    • CHAPTER 9 Poetry and Prose from a Black Perspective
      (pp. 195-220)

      Despite his opposition to the idea that Mozambican poetry should express an African frame of reference to the exclusion of other points of view, Rui Knopfli recognized the genuineness of what he himself has calledMoçambicanismo. This Mozambicanness refers specifically to the use, by poets and writers of prose fiction, of thematic and stylistic approaches that translate, in artistic terms, the essence of an African social reality. As is the case with the literature of Angola, the urgency of social and racial consciousness often turns the poems and stories of the committed Mozambican into guileless expressions of concern. Still, taken...

    • CHAPTER 10 Contemporary Trends and Prospects
      (pp. 221-230)

      Mozambique’s combative literature parallels Angola’s in that during the mid- and late-sixties a small number of militant poets wrote verse while in exile. However, no poet of the caliber of the Angolan Agostinho Neto has contributed to this phase of Mozambican literature. Mário de Andrade’s anthology includes, under the general heading of “War,” selections by the Mozambican poets Sérgio Vieira, Armando Guebuza, and Jorge Rebelo. All three are members of the independence party FRELIMO. Vieira’s “Tríptico para estado de guerra” (Triptych for a State of War) documents the cruelties of combat. Slogans are dispersed throughout his poem, such as the...


    • CHAPTER 11 Ten African Islands
      (pp. 233-257)

      About the year 1460 Portuguese and Genovese mariners came upon the uninhabited Atlantic island subsequently named Santiago. In the years immediately following, the Portuguese, with the aid of the Genovese navigator Antonio Noli, discovered the remaining, likewise uninhabited, islands of the Cape Verde archipelago: Fogo, Maio, Boavista, Sal, Santo Antão, São Vicente, São Nicolau, Santa Luzia, and Brava. Some scholars, notably Jaime Cortesão, have contended that, long before the arrival of the Europeans, Senegalese had journeyed regularly in large canoes to collect salt on the appropriately named Island of Sal, which lies some two hundred and eighty miles west of...

    • CHAPTER 12 The Birth of a Literature
      (pp. 258-274)

      The comment by the seventeenth-century priest António Vieira on the jet black but refined clerics he observed in Santiago suggests the degree of early nonwhite participation in certain institutions that the Portuguese established in Cape Verde.¹ Because of their numerical superiority and the opportunities for a certain amount of upward social mobility, blacks, and particularlymestiços, found themselves by the nineteenth century in a position to take advantage of newly installed educational facilities, such as the high school founded in Praia in 1860. By 1894 there were 4052 students, 90 percent of whom where “of color,” enrolled in Cape Verde’s...

    • CHAPTER 13 A New Poetry
      (pp. 275-310)

      Janheinz Jahn has declared that all creative writing by persons of African heritage is “under suspicion” until a better critical method of neo-African literature is developed. It might be said, then, that under Western domination any writer of African heritage may express his origins, or even a psychological reaction to his origins, in a subconscious or ambivalent way. The peculiar nature of Western domination in a creole society such as that of Cape Verde means that although writers may relegate an African heritage to a distant, almost forgotten past they still must display some awareness of that heritage—not necessarily...

    • CHAPTER 14 Cape Verde in Narrative
      (pp. 311-357)

      Although the currents of négritude and black rebirth flowed far from Cape Verde’s shores, the fact that island intellectuals began to immerse themselves in a regionalist awareness about the same time that writers in the Caribbean and Africa were in the process of discovering their roots gave the literary movement on the archipelago an impetus and a headstart on the other regions of Portuguese Africa. Since there is often a time lag between the appearance of poetry and the beginnings of prose fiction, particularly the novel, in a newly developing literary expression, theClaridademovement, by virtue of having emerged...

    • CHAPTER 15 The Case of Portuguese Guinea (Guinea-Bissau)
      (pp. 358-362)

      Most commentators on Afro-Portuguese literature prefer to pass over Guinea. Although there may be little to comment on, even the quantitative absence of a viable literary expression in Portuguese makes the conditions responsible for this situation worthy of consideration within the total phenomenon of creative writing in the five areas. But because of the lack of anything approaching the regionalist thrust of Angola, Mozambique, and Cape Verde, my discussion must be limited to some brief introductory observations and a necessarily short evaluation of that which can be categorized as Afro-Portuguese literature in Guinea.

      One justification for including this short chapter...


    • CHAPTER 16 Two Plantation Islands in the Gulf of Guinea
      (pp. 365-368)

      Historians estimate 1471 to be the year that the Portuguese first reached the two small, uninhabited islands of Sāo Tomé and Príncipe located in the Gulf of Guinea. Príncipe, the smaller of the two equatorial islands, has paralleled and depended on the development of the more important Sāo Tomé. Settlement of the latter began some fifteen years after the arrival of the first Europeans, and by 1554 the population consisted of Portuguese from the metropolis and Madeira, the descendants of 2000 Portuguese Jewish children who had been sent to the island in 1492 to be Christianized, a number of Spaniards...

    • CHAPTER 17 Filhos da Terra at Home and Abroad
      (pp. 369-388)

      The few literary works by this small nucleus offilhos da terradisplay, in several cases, a preoccupation with the reaction of the transplanted “man-of-color” to his European environment. Even those whose writings do use island settings and themes show a concern with racial definitions arising from economic and social distinctions. Neither a development of plantation themes nor intimist, lyrical portraits of island institutions and landscapes, in poetry and prose, has reached the level of a cohesive, regionalist projection as is the case of Cape Verde. The reasons for this are apparent: a historical development (including absentee ownership of plantations)...


    • CHAPTER 18 Unity, Diversity, and Prospects for the Future
      (pp. 391-400)

      In approaching my subject from the standpoint of the modern cultural history of Portuguese Africa, I have considered the individual areas as regional entities, each with its own distinctive literary development, and I have also made references to the phenomenon of Afro-Portuguese literature; this implies, of course, that the writing of all regions, from Angola to São Tomé-Príncipe, shares something in common. Obviously, the Portuguese language is the first common denominator. At the same time, the separate histories and the cultural and social institutions of the Luso-Brazilian world account in part for the diversity of the African areas of Portuguese...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 403-416)
  11. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 419-434)
  12. Index
    (pp. 437-450)