"It is necessary to free the dictionaries, the Portugal of today is not the same as yesterday"

Mozambican born in Manjacaze, Gaza province, in the south of the country, in 1955. Girl who grew up in the suburbs of Maputo. Protestant family but Portuguese learned in a Catholic school. She studied linguistics at Eduardo Mondlhane University, was a member of FRELIMO, but dedicated herself to the militancy of letters and books and less to politics, disillusioned with the line followed after independence by the party founded by Samora Machel. She worked for the Red Cross during the civil war, moved to Zambézia in the north. She was the first woman to publish a novel in Mozambique. The social issues she addresses generate controversy, as does the practice of polygamy in the country.

In Portugal, he has published the novels “Balada de Amor ao Vento”, “Ventos do Apocalipse”, which deals precisely with the civil war… “O Alegre Canto da Perdiz”, on racial issues and, among others, “Niketche: Uma History of Polygamy”, portrait of a reality in southern Mozambique.

In 2021, she was distinguished (the first African woman to be distinguished) with the Camões Prize. Paulina Chiziane, said in interviews that she immediately informed about the award, which she no longer counted, but which was the result of a lot of struggle, for being a woman and for being a black woman.

With the TSFin the interview that can be heard in full on the program The State of the Site this Saturday, after 12 pm (and Sunday at 1 am) and also Sunday after 2 pm, it addresses the current situation in Mozambique, the evolution of the condition of Mozambican women and women in the world: “Most women in the world look at African women as lesser beings. And they forget that their empires and their riches came into their hands from the children of women in Africa”. And complains, peremptory: “Justice needs to be done. African women are in poverty, yes, they were impoverished. The children of African women, the strongest, were removed and disappeared forever. And they became impoverished, so a little justice needs to be done. women of the world have to look at African women as victims of a historical process; and not as those poor, silly, poor ones, I don’t know…”

A conversation that revolves around the legacy of colonization, the language of domination in Portuguese books and dictionaries made in Portugal. supremacism? He laughs before starting to answer: “the Portuguese language was an imperial language, a language of supremacy. It was. this is history, we cannot deny it. The first stage of our liberation as Africans was the armed struggle that later gave us independence. But there is much to be done.”. The writer claims that “the Portuguese language we speak today needs to be more democratized, it needs to be more humanized. There are a series of colonial vestiges that are inside the book that need to be washed, even removed”. But also “sexism and traces of racism”. On the first point, give a practical example: “the word hero: is a ‘man considered to be of high courage, won battles’; ‘heroine, a woman of extraordinary beauty’. When I read that, I thought: ‘something is not right here!’. Is it necessary to release the dictionaries? “Yes, it is necessary to free the dictionaries”. Is this part of a process of language decolonization, which is still to be done? “Absolutely. And only we, as writers, and other language scholars, realize that.”

In her daily work, using the dictionary a lot, Paulina Chiziane discovered. She was getting attention. It welcomes the studies that are being carried out for this final process of decolonization in order to propose “Dialogue and Change”. Because, he says, as if reinforcing his arguments, “Today’s Portugal is not the same as yesterday’s. We have to move forward and on this path we have to deconstruct some myths and taboos and some monsters that have been placed in the language. And that is the mission that we must fulfill if we want a language Portuguese human and for all”.

Leave a Reply