Commemorating Agostinho Neto’s life – Angola’s National Heroes Day

Flag of Angola
Flag of Angola

Today is Angola’s National Heroes’ Day commemorating Angolan heroes, and is a celebration of the life of one of their heroes, President Agostinho Neto who was born on this special day.  To mark this day, and to celebrate in style, I propose yet another poem from Angola’s greatest poet, President Neto himself.  Enjoy! (I translated from Portuguese to English so it might not be the greatest… if you have a better translation, feel free to share).

Noite by Agostinho Neto – Translation by Dr. Y.,


Eu vivo
nos bairros escuros do mundo
sem luz nem vida. 

Vou pelas ruas
às apalpadelas
encostado aos meus informes sonhos
tropeçando na escravidão
ao meu desejo de ser.

São bairros de escravos
mundos de miséria
bairros escuros.

Onde as vontades se diluíram
e os homens se confundiram
com as coisas.

Ando aos trambolhões
pelas ruas sem luz
pejadas de mística e terror
de braço dado com fantasmas.

Também a noite é escura.


I live                                                                     in the dark quarters of the world                     without light and life.   

I fumbled through the  streets                                                          leaning on my dreams                                  stumbling on slavery                                                                 to my desire to be.

Slave quarters                                                worlds of misery                                                dark quarters.

Where the wills were diluted                                   and the men were confused                                   with things.

I walk in unknown streets                                                         without tripping                                                                 Streets soaked in with mystical light                    and the terror arm of ghosts.

The night is also dark.

Celebrating Angola’s National Heroes Day

Agostinho Neto
Agostinho Neto
Flag of Angola
Flag of Angola

Angolans are marking this  Monday the National Heroes’ Day, in homage to the country’s first president, the late Dr. Agostinho Neto, who was born on 17 September 1922 in Kaxicane locality.  Celebrate with me Angola’s National Heroes’ Day by enjoying a poem by Angola’s greatest poet, and its first president.


Criar criar
criar no espírito criar no músculo

criar no nervo
criar no homem criar na massa
criar com os olhos secos
Criar criar
sobre a profanação da floresta
sobre a floresta impúdica do chicote
criar sobre o perfume dos troncos serrados
criar com os olhos secos
Criar criar
gargalhadas sobre o escárneo da palmatória
coragem nas pontas das botas do roceiro
força no esfrangalhado das portas violentadas
firmeza no vermelho sangue da insegurança
criar com os olhos secos

Criar criar
estrelas sobre o camartelo guerreiro
paz sobre o choro das crianças
paz sobre o suor sobre a lágrima do contrato
paz sobre o ódio
criar paz com os olhos secos
Criar criar
criar liberdade nas estradas escravas
algemas de amor nos caminhos paganizados do amor
sons festivos sobre o balanceio dos corpos em forcas simuladas
criar amor com os olhos secos.




Create create
create in mind create in muscle

create in nerve create in man create in the masses
create with dry eyes
Create create
over the profanation of the forest
over the shameless fortress of the whip create over the scent of sawn trunks

create with dry eyes
Create create
laughter over the scorn of the palmatoria courage in the tips of the planter’s boots strength in the splintering of battered-in doors firmness in the red blood of insecurity
create with dry eyes
Create create
stars over the warrior’s sledge-hammer peace over children’s weeping peace over the sweat the tears of forced labour peace over hatred
create peace with dry eyes

Create create
create freedom on slave highways
manacles of love on the paganised

paths of love
festive sounds over bodies swinging on simulated gallows create
create love with dry eyes.


‘My Name’ by Magoleng wa Selepe

African Savanna
African Savanna

I just thought about what happened to our fathers, mothers, grandmothers, and grandfathers during colonial times: to go to school African children were forced by European missionaries to adopt a christian name such as John, Peter (Jean, Pierre), etc… as opposed to their good old African name Nomzimo, Makeba, Ndoumbe, Keïta, etc.  Thus many Africans who would have just worn the name ‘Ndoumbe Mpondo‘ or ‘Binlin Dadié‘ or ‘Um Nyobé‘ had to adopt a European name such as John + their own name, such that they became: John Ndoumbe Mpondo or Bernard Binlin Dadié or Ruben Um Nyobé.  To this day, the tradition has remained… most Africans would have three or four names: their family name, and their given name, plus the European first name and in some cases a European middle name as well.  The poem below entitled ‘My name‘ by the South African poet Magoleng wa Selepe captures this very well.

My Name

Nomgqibelo Ncamisile Mnqhibisa

Look what they have done to my name……..

the wonderful name of my great-great-grandmother

Nomgqibelo Ncamisile Mnqhibisa

The burly bureaucrat was surprised

What he heard was music to his ears

‘Wat is daai, se nou weer?’

‘I am from Chief Daluxo Velayigodle of emalu podweni

And my name is Nomgqibelo Ncamisile Mnqhibisa.’

Messia, help me !

My name is simple

And yet so meaningful

But to this man it is trash…..

He gives me a name

Convenient enough to answer his whim…..

I end up being



Nomgqibelo Ncamisile Mnqhibisa

by Magoleng wa Selepe