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Noémia de Sousa

Mozambican writer, Carolina Noémia Abranches de Sousa Soares was born on September 20th 1926, in Lourenço Marques (now Maputo). Her poetic work is still to be published. She wrote as if she was predestined to do it, rejecting the traditional European norms, and created dozens of poems between 1949 and 1952, many of them published in the Mozambican and foreign press.

When she was only 22 years of age, a new fascinating generationshe appeared in the Mozambican literary panorama, calling out its impetuous, objective and generous style, intensely based on the people’s soul, on its culture and social consciousness, revealing unusual talent and impressive courage.

Noémia was mestiça (descendent of mixed races), and her experience as such is clearly apparent in her work.

Her poetry soon showed itself to be “filled” with the “radiant certainty” of hope for the humiliated, a kind of hope that always involves freedom. All her production indicates the constant presence of deep African roots, allowing for the exaltation of Mother-Africa, to the glorification of African values, to protest and denunciation.

Her poetry is accusatory and has a strong social impact, and her language, in stylistic terms, plays with sound structures and sequences of harsh sounded words, constructing the “proud call” for hope. Noémia de Sousa, as a real pioneer in Mozambican Literature, (as she has always been considered) praises – in her literary career – revolution as the only means to modify the social structures that trouble the Mozambican land.

Even as a youngster, she always wanted people to progress united, collectively, towards a future that might change the basis of men’s attitude, but without ever defending dehumanisation. Above all, she clearly says she is African and tries to help spreading the Mozambican cultural values. The main subjects of her literary expression include the disenchantment of the day-to-day life, a certain bitterness, a certain rage, but also a painful cry, racial pride, a categorical protest that contains the angry impetus against five centuries of humiliation.

The great foundation of Noémia de Sousa’s work is the eternal dichotomy "us/others" - "us", the perfect Africans; the "others", the strange people, those who arrived in Africa, the colonists. These are, undoubtedly, the two major themes in Noémia de Sousa’s poetry: on one hand, we have the continuous denunciation of the colonists’ complete incomprehension, merely apprehending the superficiality of the rituals, not understanding the essence of Africa, revealing a completely distorted vision of reality; on the other hand we have the motivation for poems that praise the black race, stating loud and clear that the presence of the colonists in Africa implies the use of strength, which is used only to dishonour the image of that land. Noémia de Sousa talks about the pride of being African. And for this same reason, she says that the sons themselves have to sing this mother-land (that they love and feel so intensely) – and to sing Africa had to be understood as an opposition to the colonists’ way of singing.

In her poems, the "self" of Noémia de Sousa is understood as a "whole", an entire people that wants to play its part – the people of Mozambique. Thus, the poet perceives herself as spokesperson of that people, addressing the mother-land that welcomes and protects them, either singing her life or asking forgiveness for the alienation demonstrated throughout so much time, or even promising the rapid and definitive devolution of their right to an authentic and proper life.

The presence of Noémia de Sousa in the panorama of Mozambican literature was short, but fruitful, and the quality of her texts has never stopped being acknowledged and admired.

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