Vamos descobrir Angola!

Mas onde estão os filhos de Angola,
se os não oiço cantar e exaltar
tanta beleza e tanta tristeza,
tanta dor e tanta ânsia
desta terra e desta gente?

(Exortação, Maurício de Almeida Gomes)


"Vamos descobrir Angola – tal foi, nesta perspectiva, a palavra de ordem lançada em Luanda, em 1948, por um grupo de estudantes e de jovens intelectuais. Coube a Viriato da Cruz o mérito da sua formulação teórica e estética:

           'O movimento', escreveu ele mais trade, 'deveria retomar, mas sobretudo com outros métodos, o espírito combativo dos escritores africanos de século XIX e dos princípios do actual. Esse movimento combatia o respeito exagerado pelos valores culturais do Ocidente (muitos dos quais caducos); incitava os jovens a redescobrir Angola em todos os seus aspectos através dum trabalho colectivo e organizado; exortava a produzir-se para o povo; solicitava o estudo das modernas correntes culturais estrangeiras, mas com o fim de repensar e nacionalizar as suas criações postivas e válidas; exigia a expressão dos interesses populares e da autêntica natureza africana, mas sem que se fizesse nenhuma concessão à sede de exotismo colonialista. Tudo deveria basear-se no senso estético, na inteligência, na vontade e na razão africanas.'" (PINTO DE ANDRADE, 1975)

"Carlos Ervedosa wrote that in 1948 those filhos da terra who were just coming of age took stock of their situation and came forth with the slogan 'Vamos descobrir Angola!'1 (…) intellectuals born during the twenties, thirties, and forties intoned their slogan with fervor and sometimes with anguish. Out of this awareness came out the Movimiento dos Novos Intelectuais de Angola and in 1950 the founding of the Associaçao dos Naturais de Angola. This new generation, men, woman, black, white, and mestiço, came mainly from urban areas; their education in the secondary schools of Angola, and often in the universities of Portugal, while it assured them a favored status as members of the intelligentsia, also turned them into a Europeanized elite far removed from a knowledge of history and culture of their native land." (HAMILTON, 1975, p.59)

"There exists little evidence in the writings of the period to suggest that this first nationalists movement had overtones of independence, but no doubt cultural awareness, influenced by the stirrings of change in other regions of colonial Africa, led many of these youngs intellectuals to react initially with nostalgia to the gradual dilution and eventual disappearance of the popular festivals and music that emanated from the African musseques. (…) One form of reaction to the literal banishment of African influence from the Angolan carnival, and the attending disintegration of the large dancing groups, was the organization of musical combos in the musseques. These groups revived African themes and created a genuinely acculturated, regional popular music." (HAMILTON, 1975, p.60)

"From the perspective of nationalists, the approximation between the economically and more socially advantaged Africans and their poorer urban brethren permitted a radicalization and cultural re-Africanization of some elites, This was precisely what the literary nationalist had advocated with their call to "descobrir Angola." When literary nationalists proclaimed "Vamos descobrir Angola!" they sought to surmount the alienation effected by Portuguese culture and education through a discovery and celebration of local culture.

(...) The Angolan writer and sociologist Pepetela argues that the musseques represented an experienced of transethnicity and not necessarily one of ethnic erasure. Using Monteiro's2 data on the rising percentage of interethnic marriages in the musseques, he argues:

                'This very important piece of data reinforces the idea that the musseque (and everything leads us to believe that this continues today) was a transethnic space where, in fact, the idea of nation was born and where it was constantly reinforced by the integration of elements that continually arrived from the rural areas.'3

In this reading Africans did not shed ethnicity but instead reinterpreted it.

(...) For the nationalist writers the diversity of the musseque was a source of great potential. Ethnicity was one amigo many ways of connecting with neighbors. The basis for an imaginary of self and other, defined in relation to something other than ethnicity or even race, might emerge from seeing that one's neighbors of a different ethnicity also suffered the same conditions and discrimination." (MOORMAN, 2008, p.45) 


Publications of the literary movement "Vamos descobrir Angola!":

[Associaçao dos Naturais de Angola published Mensagem 1951 until October 1952. (2 issues, 4 numbers)] "The first issue did little more than announce a contest for the best poetry and short stories on Angolan themes written between 1951 and 1952. (…) Youthful exuberance abounds in the editorial dedication to the prize winners of the literary competition sponsored by the Cultural Department of the Regional Associacion of the Native Sons of Angola. The judges apologetically explain that because Angola does not yet posses the spiritual maturity of the "old countries", the criteria for selecting the best works could not be too stringent." (HAMILTON, 1975. pp.61)

"(…) Mensagem contains a hint of the innovative and even iconoclastic as a prelude to a socially and politically committed Angolan literature. Names such as Viriato da Cruz, hailed by some as the most expressively Angolan poet, lend an important standard of cultural independence to Mensagem. Cruz would join with Mário de Andrade and Agostinho Neto to form, some nine years later, the nucleus of a revolutionary intelligentsia. Andrade and Neto contributed, respectively, the short stories "Eme Ngana, eme mien" (Me, Sir, Me Myself) and "Naúsea", both presenting slices of Luanda slum life from the black's man point of view. 

The inclusion in Mensagem of two poems by the Mozambican poet Noémia de Sousa, with commentary by fellow Mozambican José Craverinha, heralds the beginning of communication between like-minded Afro-Portuguese writers in the different provinces. A note, reprinted in the Angolan Journal from the Mozambican review Itinerário, praises the new Angolan poetry for being free of the conventional image of the black man as a simple, ornamental element. The editors of Itinerário enthusiastically proclaim the literary and cultural activities of the Movement of Young Intellectuals of Angola who, on November 24, 1952, sponsored a well-attended poetry reading during which works of by Antonio Jacinto and Antero Abreu were recited.

 (…) Mário Andrade, in his articule "Kimbundu nas línguas de Angola" (Kimbundu among the Languages de Angola), attempts to take up where Héli Chatelain and Cordeiro da Matta, is not static memorabilia, but rather a nationalistic expression of an  African renaissance. And certainly the often outspokenly African voice that emerged in the two issues of Messagem must contributed to its untimely demise." (HAMILTON, 1975, pp.63-64)

"From 1945 to 1951 nineteen issues of another journal, Cultura, published by the Sociedade Cultural de Angola (Cultural Society of Angola), carried a wide range of articles dealing with science, literature and the arts.  Cultura in this early stage lacked, however, the regionalist focus of Mensagem: Bessa Víctor, for example submitted a European-type poem to the first issue, and the cape verbena Luís Romano contributed two poems, based on his experiences in Morocco, to the subsequent issues. In the pages of Cultura appeared the occasional poems by those who would later distinguished themselves in the coordinated literary movement of young Angolan intellectuals

When Cultura reassumed publication in 1957 it had a new direction. The magazine had assumed the Mensagem spirit, and as if to reinforce its editorial statement of purpose organizers printed the photograph of a Luene ceremonial mask on the from cover of the opening issue. More cosmopolitan than Mensagem, Cultura includes articles and reviews dealing with social and racial problems in an international context. The first issue carries such pieces as a Portuguese translation of "Race and Society" by the American sociologist Kenneth Little, reprinted from  the Mozambican newspaper O brado Africano (The African Roar), and a note by Augusto Costa Dias entitled "Sobre compreensão e defesa das cultures nacionais" (Concerning the Understanding and Defense of National Cultures). And in the second issue the editors write of how, over a twenty-year period, they have witnessed the gradual formation of an Angolan conciousness. Each issue of Cultura, through the twelfth, published in 1960 (a token, two page issue appeared in 1961), intensified this conciousness in part of Angolan intellectuals." (HAMILTON, 1975, p. 65) 

1. ERVEDOSA, Carlos (1963). A literatura Angolana: Resenha histórica. Lisbon, Casa dos Estudantes do Império. p.33 

2. "Em 1959, Ramiro Ladeiro Monteiro era um administrador colonial na Circunscrição de São Paulo em Luanda que, em 1962, foi transferido para os Serviços de Centralização de Informacões, também nesta cidade, orgão cujos objetivos era estebelecer um olhar panóptico sobre a movimentação dos nacionalistas nesa província ultramarina. Sua obra é considerada fundamental para o estudo antroposociológico desses sítios durante o fenecimento do período colonial portugués em Angola. É um volume pormenorizado, fruto de um intenso inquérito realizado nos musseques luandeses em fins da decáda de 1960."  (CARVALHO FILHO, 2009, p.2)

3 PEPETELA (1990). Luandando. Porto, Elf Aquitaine Angola. p.108


HAMILTON, Russel G. (1975). Voices from the Empire. Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, pp.59-65.

MOORMAN , Marissa Jean (2008). Intonations: a social history of music and nation in Luanda, Angola, from 1945 to recent times. Athens, Ohio University Press, p.45.

CARVALHO FILHO, Silvio de Almeida (2009). A criminalidade nos Musseques de Luanda e nas Favelas do Rio de Janeiro: uma comparação entre dois olhares antropológicos (décadas de 1960 e 1970).  Disponívelem: <> 

PINTO DE ANDRADE, Mário (1975). “Prefácio”. Antologia Temática de Poesia Africana. Cabo Verde, São Tomé e Príncipe, Guiné, Angola,Moçambique. Vol. 1. Lisboa, Sá da Costa.  Em RIBEIRO SANCHES, Manuela (Ed.) (2011). Malhas que os Impérios Tecem. Textos Anticoloniais, Contextos Pós-coloniais. Lisboa, Edições 70, Lda.

SOBRINHO, Pedro. "Panorama Geral da Literatura em Angola". Boletim Mensagem. Ano I, No.6. Lisboa, Casa dos Estudantes do Império. pp 16-18. Em: FERREIRA, Manuel (Ed.) (1992). Mensagem: Boletim da Casa dos Estudantes do Império. Vol. 1, Lisboa, ALAC.

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