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
Escravo

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
grato
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
labour.

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
gratefully
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.

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
criar no espírito criar no músculo

criar no nervo
criar no homem criar na massa
criar
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
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
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
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
criar amor com os olhos secos.

 

 

Create

Create create
create in mind create in muscle

create in nerve create in man create in the masses
create
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
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
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
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.

 

Fire and Rhythm (Fogo e ritmo) by Agostinho Neto

Agostinho Neto
Agostinho Neto

Agostinho Neto was the a medical doctor, a poet, and most importantly the first president of Angola. Today, I would like you to sit back and enjoy a poem written by this great African leader

Fogo e ritmo

Sons de grilhetas nas estradas

cantos de pássaros

sob a verdura úmida das florestas

frescura na sinfonia adocicada

dos coqueirais

fogo

fogo no capim

fogo sobre o quente das chapas do Cayatte.

Caminhos largos

cheios de gente cheios de gente

em êxodo de toda a parte

caminhos largos para os horizontes fechados

mas caminhos

caminhos abertos por cima

da impossibilidade dos braços.

Fogueiras

dança

tamtam

ritmo

Ritmo na luz

ritmo na cor

ritmo no movimento

ritmo nas gretas sangrentas dos pés descalços

ritmo nas unhas descarnadas

Mas ritmo

ritmo.

Ó vozes dolorosas de África!

 

Fire and rhythm

The sound of chains on the roads

the songs of birds

under the humid greenery of the forest

freshness in the smooth symphony

of the palm trees

fire

fire on the grass

fire on the heat of the Cayatte plains

Wide paths

full of people full of people

an exodus from everywhere

wide paths to closed horizons

but paths

paths open atop

the impossibility of arm

fire

dance

tum tum

rhythm

Rhythm in light

rhythm in color

rhythm in movement

rhythm in the bloody

cracks of bare feet

rhythm on torn nails

yet rhythm

rhythm

Oh painful African voices

 

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