Porto’s Alma 17
Can you see it now? How I am part of a huge cosmos? Stars and planets surround me, element after element, weaving some bigger reason I don’t always understand. The stars, my orientation, ancestors of seafaring man emanate to conquer the world, re-migrate to save their own. This little Portuguese world, oh golden age, oh nation of seamen, all noted down by the great Luiz Camoes. Where are you now? Are we really over it? Are we living in postcolonial times? There is so much colonial in postcolonial. Let us work on this term lusophone! Let’s make it a practice, not a theory. Angola, Mozambique, Cap Verde, Brazil, São Tomé et Príncipe – I am calling out for you! Let us take the chance of speaking one language by doing and undoing differences just like Ondjaki. For example, in his book “Os transparentes” or his play “os vivos, o morto, e o peixe frito”. Show me your accent, I show you mine! I once attended the lecture “Brasilesen” in Frankfurt and listened to Ondjaki himself. It was in the sweetest little bookstore in Frankfurt, the Portuguese bookstore TFM. Because the owners are Portuguese, Ondjaki spoke Portuguese with a European accent but in an interview on YouTube, he spoke with a Brazilian accent. This is because he lives in Brazil now. Originally though, he is from Angola. I think it’s just fascinating how he can jump between the accents. I do not talk Austrian German – just as an example. Ondjaki really has a talent for imitating accents. I remember him signing his book “Bom dia Camaradas” for me. I still have it and he drew a nice ornament next to his signature. Oh, and he sent me his play “os vivos, o morto e o peixe frito” for my exam; I won’t bore you with the details, but to put it in a nutshell – I nailed it. So I think observing Ondjakis work proves that doing lusophony is possible. Speaking the same language might have a sad history, but more importantly it is how we continue to write the future. Unity is growing while uniqueness is celebrated. And there again is this cosmos of balance: Doing and Undoing differences.