African Press Association

Befitting honour for Mozambique poetic liberators Craveirinha

From BERTA MADIME in Maputo, Mozambique,MAPUTO, (CAJ News) -THE Mafalala neighbourhood in the Mozambican capital of Maputo is synonymous with poverty, insecurity and an epicenter of unsanitary-borne diseases.However, it will soon be mentioned in the same breath with a sacred landmark in honor of a giant credited with spearheading the liberation of the Southern African country from the yoke of colonialism by the Portuguese.Born and raised in Mafalala, Jose Craveirinha (1922-2003), is hailed as the greatest poet to emerge from Mozambique.Construction of a memorial to honor the man widely known as the Sovereign poet is underway in the region, expected to be three floors high and occupying several hundred square metres of land.
It is going to be situated in the outlying neighborhood of Zimpeto, close to the most famous sports field in Mozambique, The Zimpeto National Stadium.
The project architect, Lara Lemos, said Craveirinha’s family plans to build a statue, a centre of studies and an accommodation space.“The first floor will be open to the public, with spaces for events and lectures. The second floor will be focused on Craveirinha’s work, all his books and texts, and every record of his life will be there,” explained Lemos.
She continued, “The memorial is slightly far from the center of the city, the third floor will have accommodation for those studying about Craveirinha’s life and work.”
However, the luxury around the memorial is a stark contrast to the lifestyle Craveirinha built for himself until his death in Johannesburg,South Africa where he sought treatment for an undisclosed ailment.People often remember the poet during his last years as an old man walking slowly due to the weight of his age through local streets.This belied the awards under his belt. Craveirinha was awarded at least 19 times.He was the first African to be awarded with the Camões prize, one of the most important literary prizes for the Portuguese speaking countries.The poet also had several honorific titles from the Portuguese government and he held an honorary degree by the biggest Mozambican University,Universidade Eduardo Mondlane.Upon his demise, he was buried as a national hero.His prizes were mostly related to his poetry, which was highly appreciated by literature professors and students worldwide.
Among these are “Black Scream”, “A man never cries”, “Karingana Wakaringana”, “Xigubo” and “Maria”.
Personal tribulation inspired these works.He was the son of a Portuguese man and a black Mozambican woman at a time of racial polarization.A victim of racism himself, Craveirinha wrote in his autobiography, “I was born the first time on May 28th, 1922. This was on a Sunday. They called me Sontinho, diminutive of Sonto (Sunday, in changana, a native Mozambican language). That was my mother, of course. On my father’s side, I continued being José. Where? At Zihlahla Avenue, between Alto Maé and the way to Xipamanine. Whose neighborhoods? Poor neighborhoods.”
He continued, “I was born the second time when they made me discover that I was a mulatto (a child of a black and a white person. They were discriminated by both Mozambicans and Portuguese people during the colonial period, as they were too white to be black and too black to be white).
Hence Craveirinha spent his youth fighting racism, complementing the now-ruling Freedom for the Liberation of Mozambique (Frelimo).Craveirinha earlier found in writing a way to fight against colonial oppression. He then joined the revolutionary newspaper Brado African (The African scream or the African cry), which denounced the cruelty of the colonial regime in Mozambique towards black people.
That stance and his support of Frelimo led to his arrest by the colonial regime between 1965 and 1969.One of his three children, Zeca Craveirinha, believes the memorial would be befitting to his father’s impact.
“The center of studies will be a cultural and social space that will host national and international artistic activities. The new generations will have the opportunity to visit the past and know the pages that make the life of José Craveirinha,” Zeca said.
Mozambicans are enthralled by the establishment of the facility.“We just expect this centre to pay complete tribute to the great man Craveirinha was,” said Fernandel Palate, a university student majoring in literature.
Zeca believes the initiative would increase the number of explorations into Craveirinha’s work.“Parents can take their children on a walk to get to know the building.Thus, the visit to the memorial will be a moment of leisure and learning,” said the younger Craveirinha.

– CAJ News