5 Female Authors From Lusophone Africa For You To Read

During our school years, plenty of lusophone authors have came into the literature classes. The brazilians ones, like Machado de Assis, were side by side to Camões and Almeida Garrett, both from Portugal. But what about the african authors? There are five countries, throughout the african continent, whose official language is portuguese, and even if we got the chance to know some of its literatures - like Mia Couto’s, from Moçambique - where are all the female authors?

There are a lot of amazing woman who have already wrote - or are still writing - in portuguese and we don’t even know their names. So, thinking about these worlds of possibilities, we selected five female authors for you to know, one from each lusophone african country.

#1 - Paulina Chiziane | Moçambique

The first woman to ever publish a romance in the country, Paulina Chiziane was born in 1955, in the village of Manjacaze, and has ten published books - only three of them published here in Brasil. Her career as a writer started on the newspapers, back in 1984, where she published her first articles, and then moved to the literature with her first book, “Balada de Amor ao Vento”, published in 1990.

Credits: Otávio de Souza/Wikimedia Commons

One of the most important writers of Moçambique, she’s already been nominated to the Nobel Prize of Peace and is a present figure on the country’s political scene. Chiziane was once a militant of Frente de Libertação de Moçambique, a political party and movement, but if now she’s already left the party, her writing’s taken its role.

Although she doesn’t describe herself as a feminist, just like the author always points out on interviews, one of the main topics present on her literature is the women’s conditions in the country. To BBC Brasil, she said fighting for the human rights, most specifically for the women’s rights, is the background of her work, with subjects like the actual social reality of Moçambique, traditions and religious topics and, of course, the women’s situation. Polygamy, for an example, is one of the matters she writes about, among many others.

#2 - Ana Paula Tavares | Angola

Born in 1952 in Huíla, Ana Paula Ribeiro Tavares is an historian, with a masters on African Literature, who has already published eight books, one of them available in Brasil. Now she lives in Portugal, where is a teacher and researcher on Universidade Católica de Lisboa, work she divides with her writing career.

Credits: Pallas Editora

“Ritos de Passagem” was the first book published by the poetess, who has already declared the brazilian art, from literature to music, one of her influences, with Clarice Lispector, Lygia Fagundes Telles, Elis Regina and Tom Jobim. Beyond that, the cultural aspects from her hometown, side by side to the political and social facts she’s witnessed, are always present on her work.

Like Chiziane, her writing is full of cultural elements about the women’s conditions, that among the representation of her country’s day-to-day, dialogue with the building of a national identity, as some papers and analyses of Tavares’ books suggest.

  • Titles published in Brasil: Amargos como os Frutos, by Pallas Editora; 
  • More female writers from Angola: Ngonguita Diogo, Isabel Ferreira and Ana de Santana.

#3 - Alda Espirito Santo | São Tomé e Príncipe

Alda Neves da Graça do Espírito Santo was one of the main characters of São Tomé e Príncipe’s political history, and also the author of its national anthem. Born in 1926, she died in 2010, and during her entire life, used writing as a political weapon. It happened since her studying times in Portugal to her last living days, passing through all her political roles in São Tomé e Príncipe, as minister of education, culture and information, congresswoman, president of the Municipal Council, Fórum das Mulheres São-tomenses (Women’s Forum) and União de Escritores e Artistas (Writers and Artists Union).

Credits: Templo Cultural Delfos

Espírito Santo’s works, poems or narratives, always brought political subjects, like the women’s condition on her country, the portuguese colonization and nationalism. “Her poetry was important to the entire anti colonial movement on every portuguese-expression country”, said Manuel Alegre, a poet, according to Diário de Notícias.

  • Titles available in Brasil: Alda Espírito Santo, her work organized by Carlos Espírito Santo, by Edições Colibri.
  • More female writers from São Tomé e Príncipe: Conceição Lima, Olinda Beja and Manuela Margarido.

#4 - Orlanda Amarílis | Cabo Verde

The women’s condition is also present on the books written by Orlanda Amarílis Lopes Rodrigues Fernandes Ferreira, but the author, from Cabo Verde, who was born in 1924 and died in 2014, focused on another perspective lived by the women from Cabo Verde: the one of the emigrants, the ones that left their home country to live abroad. The fiction author started publishing in 1974, with its masterpiece “Cais-do-Sodré té Salamansa”, composed of seven stories that talk about racism, notions of identity, sexism and loneliness on the outlook of the emigrants.

Credits: Templo Cultural Delfos

She wrote on newspapers and magazines, published three books, had her stories included on anthologies and, as Amarílis also had degrees on teaching and pedagogy, she even had three books of children's literature published. According to Diário de Notícias, she is one of the greatest names of Cabo Verde's culture. The author is seen as a leader, who helped her country's literature to modernize itself and welcome new female writers.

  • Titles available in Brasil: there are no books of Amarílis published or available in Brasil, even though some researchers are trying to organize an anthology of her work. While it doesn't come out, you can find some of her poems on websites.
  • More female writers from Cabo Verde: Dina Salústio, Ivone Ramos (Amarílis' sister) and Maria Margarida Mascarenhas.

#5 - Odete Semedo | Guiné-Bissau

Maria Odete Soares da Costa Semedo, born in Bissau in 1959, is a university professor - who got her doctorate degree here in Brasil, by PUC - Minas Gerais - and has already published three poetry books and two stories books, among some others productions. Her literature is full of political elements, like the continuous search for a identity feeling, cause Guiné-Bissau just got its independence in 1974, and also everything that came along it.

Credits: Templo Cultural Delfos

Semedo has already been minister of education in her home country and the dean of  Amílcar Cabral University, the only public college in Guiné-Bissau, in 2013.

  • Titles published in Brasil: No Fundo do Canto, by Nandyala Livros; Guiné Bissau: história, culturas, sociedade e literatura, by Nandyala Livros; Contos Africanos dos Países de Língua Portuguesa, by Editora Ática