Celebrating Angola’s National Heroes Day 2017: ‘Western Civilization’ by Agostinho Neto

Agostinho Neto
Agostinho Neto

17 September marks National Heroes’ Day in Angola, in memory of its first president Agostinho Neto‘s whose birthday was on that day in Kaxicane. To join in the celebration, I publish here one of his poems, ‘Western Civilization‘. Sad how these words still ring true to factory workers, plantation workers, miners, sweatshop workers, etc, around the world to this day. Enjoy ‘Civilização Ocidental‘ by Agostinho Neto!




Civilização ocidental

Latas pregadas em paus
fixados na terra
fazem a casa

Os farrapos completam
a paisagem íntima

O sol atravessando as frestas
acorda o seu habitante

Depois as doze horas de trabalho

Britar pedra
acarretar pedra
britar pedra
acarretar pedra
ao sol
à chuva
britar pedra
acarretar pedra

A velhice vem cedo
Uma esteira nas noites escuras

basta para ele morrer
e de fome.


Western Civilization

Sheets of tin nailed to posts
driven in the ground
make up the house.

Some rags complete the intimate landscape.

The sun slanting through cracks
welcomes the owner

after twelve hours of slave

breaking rock
shifting rock
breaking rock
shifting rock
fair weather
wet weather
breaking rock
shifting rock

Old age comes early
a mat on dark nights

is enough when he dies
of hunger.


“Havemos de Voltar”/ “We Shall Return” by Agostinho Neto

Agostinho Neto
Agostinho Neto

Today, I would like to share a poem by one of Angola’s most prolific writer and its first president, Agostinho Neto. This poem, Havemos de Voltar” / “We Shall Return, speaks to all people, and all times.

field_champBack when this was written from his prison cell in Lisbon, the poem symbolized the return of lost sons, of exiles, of freedom fighters, and the return to their homeland, their loved ones, and the re-attribution of their resources back to them. Today, the message means pretty much the same: a return to liberty (African countries’ freedom from the oppressors), economic freedom (FCFA, the slave currency), and even freedom to all immigrants around the globe who run away from their country because of poverty, war, etc. So to all those seeking a return to peace, to love, a return home, here is Agostinho Neto‘s message.

Havemos de voltar

Às casas, às nossas lavras
às praias, aos nossos campos
havemos de voltar

ÀS nossas terras
vermelhas do café
brancas de algodão
verdes dos milharais
havemos de voltar

Às nossas minas de diamantes
ouro, cobre, de petróleo
havemos de voltar

Aos nossos rios, nossos lagos
às montanhas, às florestas
havemos de voltar

À frescura da mulemba
às nossas tradições
aos ritmos e às fogueiras
havemos de voltar

À marimba e ao quissange
ao nosso carnaval
havemos de voltar

À bela pátria angolana
nossa terra, nossa mãe
havemos de voltar

Havemos de voltar
À Angola libertada
Angola independente

We shall return

To the houses, to our crops,
to the beaches, to our fields
we shall return

To our lands
Red with coffee
White with cotton
Green with maize fields
we shall return

To our mines of diamonds
Gold, copper, oil
we shall return

To our rivers, our lakes
our mountains, our forests
we will return

To the shade of the mulemba
To our traditions
To the rhythms and bonfires
we shall return

To the marimba and the quissange
to our carnival
we shall return

To our beautiful Angolan homeland
our land, our mother
we shall return

We shall return
to liberated Angola
independent Angola.

From Sacred Hope – Poems by Agostinho Neto, published by the Angolan Writers Union, 1986, sponsored by the National Bank of Angola. Translated to English by Marga Holness.

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., Afrolegends.com


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.


Agostinho Neto by Chinua Achebe

Agostinho Neto
Agostinho Neto

In remembrance of Agostinho Neto (Sept. 17 1922 – Sept. 10th 1979), great leader and first president of Angola, I will leave you with a poem written by the great Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe in honor of Agostinho Neto. Enjoy!!!



by Chinua Achebe

Agostinho, were you no more
Than the middle one favored by fortune
In children’s riddle; Kwame
Striding ahead to accost
Demons; behind you a laggard third
As yet unnamed, of twisted fingers?

No! Your secure strides
Were hard earned. Your feet
Learned their fierce balance
In violent slopes of humiliation;
Your delicate hands, patiently
Groomed for finest incisions,
Were commandeered brusquely to kill,
Your gentle voice to battle-cry.

Perhaps your family and friends
Knew a merry flash cracking the gloom
We see in pictures but I prefer
And will keep that sorrowful legend.
For I have seen how
Half a millennium of alien rape
And murder can stamp a smile
On the vacant face of the fool,
The sinister grin of Africa’s idiot-kings
Who oversee in obscene palaces of gold
The butchery of their own people.

Neto, I sing your passing, I,
Timid requisitioner of your vast
Armory’s most congenial supply.
What shall I sing? A dirge answering
The gloom? No, I will sing tearful songs
Of joy; I will celebrate
The man who rode a trinity
Of awesome fates to the cause
Of our trampled race!
Thou Healer, Soldier and Poet!