Marcelino dos Santos
Mozambican poet and politician, Marcelino dos Santos, or Kalungano or Lilinho Micaia, as he was also known, was born in 1929, in Lumbo, Mozambique. Exciting and acknowledged poet and political activist, he soon integrated himself into Portuguese society, travelling to Lisbon to study in university. Young connoisseur, concerned with the reality of the Mozambican people, Marcelino dos Santos begins his participation in the Empire Students’ House, in Lisbon – an unofficial organization forced to turn away from the purpose initially conceived by the Portuguese Government because of several generations of African students that “transformed” it into the strongest and most special platform for the expansion and divulgation of African authors who couldn’t, at the time, publish in Africa. His texts describe the fate of the colonized, victims of society and hindered, but extremely hopeful in the chance of changing destiny and move from “chased” to “chaser”.

The world imposed to the blacks – in the case of the Mozambicans – is a world divided, unfair, in which the voices that come up talk “slightly” about a strong unsuitability, unfairness, but inspired only by a humanitarian feeling and, obviously, without facing or referring to violence. In fact, even living in a divided world, with the family extremely separated, the drama of the colonized is described without an appeal to revolt.

On the contrary, outlining a perfectly antithetic line, the poetry of Marcelino dos Santos is not the poetry of the so called “mulattos”, which tried to find identification, authenticity, a definition of earth. In a new stage and confronted with different socio-political conditionings, another Africa, so to speak, Marcelino dos Santos presented a kind of poetry that looked at the situation and that represented the truly Mozambican desires.

Deep into the years of guerrilla, of armed struggle in Mozambique, Marcelino dos Santos, now freed from the nightmare of censorship, raises his voice to proclaim the material destruction of the demons of colonialism, in a pure attempt to sing liberation, even saying, in one of his most famous poems, “yes, mother/we have to/we have to plant//on the fields of freedom/the new tree/of National Independence /".

Marcelino dos Santos was fully aware that the real task of a poet in that time was to examine and manifest in a coherent way those felling that - even not existing in a “pure” state, for being enveloped in an artificial, subjugator atmosphere – represent the exact point in which all manifests, significations and potentialities of a typically Mozambican personality can be concentrated and interlinked.

In this line of thought, Marcelino dos Santos uses the most pure set of feelings: childhood. The return to childhood, to its fascination and to its time, is a return to the past, evoking a relation with Nature, the Earth, the Roots, strengthening the existing structures, in order to define the present and prepare the future. In this way, restricting himself to the wide concept of Mother-Black, Mother-Africa, he defines a very concrete position in Mozambican poetry: a struggling position, of pure claim. This attitude reflects, verse after verse, a growing political awareness that Marcelino dos Santos develops and puts into practice, claiming to be the spokesman of a profound national foundation.

This is the reason why Marcelino dos Santos appears as one of the great activists of FRELIMO (Front for the Liberation of Mozambique), outlining the ideological foundations of the movement. He was even vice-president, and afterwards he began working with the government, in a high position.

Marcelino dos Santos, turned away from deeply Mozambican poetic production by the political militancy, is still nowadays seen as one of the most relevant voices in the affirmation of a truly Mozambican poetry.

05-01-2015