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Angola: Kitanda – A Gateway to the African “Lusosphere”

If you ever want to get your way into the African “lusosphere”, one of the best places to start is the blog “Kitanda” (“Marketplace” in Kimbundu, one of Angola's national languages).

Kitanda has become along the years, since its launch in 2004, an unavoidable reference in the “lusosphere”. Mainly dedicated to showcasing poetry written in Portuguese by authors from all lusophone countries, Kitanda also often offers a critical look at social and political events in those countries and internationally, all wrapped with evocative pictures, incidental music and, perhaps more importantly, a comprehensive blogroll of the “lusosphere”.

The attached post is just one example of its spirit. It presents the song “Luanda” and its lyrics, by Luanda’s hiphop group “Kalibrados”, expressing the sorrows and highs of Angola’s capital and its citizens. The song is particularly enriched by the use of a choral line from one of the pearls of Angolan music, “Monami” (“My Child” in Kimbundu) by a prominent Angolan singer, the late Lourdes Vandunem. Here’s the (possible) translation:

Fico malaíko com as cenas que constato
Queres ver Luanda, vê primeiro Ecos e Factos
Se água tem, energia não tem.
Se energia tem, água não tem,
nem tudo tá sebem.
A maioria não se importa é só tchillar
Sexta farrar,
sábado no bar,
segunda a kubar.
E Luanda vai morrendo lentamente.
Sem jovens para erguer uma capital diferente.
Se não formos nós, quem fará por nós?
O estrangeiro explora e foge
nunca querer saber de nós.
Não há estrilho, para tudo existe um prazo.
Nossa existência não é obra do acaso.
Digam de que forma a gente vai criticar,
vai relatar, não só Luanda,
Angola vai mudar.

Só a mudança para sarar minha ferida,
ua ué Luanda, amor da minha vida.

Essa é a minha, a tua, a nossa, vossa banda.
Essa é a minha, a tua, a nossa, vossa Luanda.

A preto e branco, como vês, nua e crua,
crua e nua,
conclusões efectua
O kimbundo? nana.
O português? Fala-se mal!
Não é normal,
em termos de linguagem, tá-se mal.
Luz, niente, água, niente.
É melhor eu me calar para não ser inconveniente.
O tempo da TPA, quase todo já foi-se.
Porque quase todos têm em casa, a Multichoice.
Channel O, MTV, KTV, CBC, SIC, Globo, RTPI.
Sim, a globalização tem força,
vemos outras culturas e esquecemo-nos da nossa.
Tu vês que eu não falo a toa.
Roulottes em Luanda é tipo cafés em Lisboa.
Reparem só, analisem com atenção:
sobre o preço da gasolina, sobre o preço do pão.
Sobe quase tudo, só o salário que não.
Bwé de makas, bwé de estrilhos, bwé de kilingas mayuya.

Mas mesmo assim, minha Luanda kuia.
Mas ‘inda assim, minha Luanda kuia.
Mas mesmo assim, minha Luanda kuia.
Mas ‘inda assim, minha Luanda kuia.

Bem-vindo a Luanda, a cidade que acontece,
onde todos são pausados, todos são kaenches,
onde há bwé de problemas, mas ninguém tá preocupado.
Muitos passam fome, mas tão sempre bem grifados.
Não há retalhos, problemas é a grosso.
Tá na moda formar grupo e dar com catana nos outros.
Tem dicas para rir, tem dicas pra chorar.
E o Luandense até nos óbitos, gosta de se mostrar.
Isso é Luanda, ninguém respeita nada.
Com conversa, não se entendem,
só se entendem com porrada.
Fico malaíko com o clima da cidade,
na porta da discoteca, todos são celebridade
Ninguém pode esperar, todo mundo quer ser visto.
“Hey brother, sou VIP”. Comé, brother, evita isso!
Esse mambo tá empestado de ilusão,
Luanda é uma selva onde todos querem ser o leão.

I get malaiko (dazed) with the scenes I get
You want to see Luanda, see first Echoes and Facts
If there’s water, there’s no energy.
If there’s energy, there’s no water,
not everything’s alright.
The majority doesn’t care, its just chill
Friday party,
Saturday bar
Monday kubar (sleep).
And Luanda is slowly dying.
Without young blood to build a different capital.
If it’s not us, who will do it for us?
The foreigner exploits and runs away
never cares about us.
There’s no trouble, for everything there’s a time.
Our existence is not by chance.
Tell us how we will criticise, report,
not only Luanda,
Angola will change. Only change can heal my wound,
ua ué (lament) Luanda, love of my life.
That’s mine, yours, ours, your banda (“hood”/place).
That’s mine, yours, ours, your Luanda.
In black and white, as you see,
nude and crude,
crude and nude,
affects conclusions
Kimbundo? Nope.
Portuguese? Badly spoken!
It ain’t normal, in language terms, we’re in bad shape.
Light, none, water, none.
Better I shut up not to be inconvenient.

All TPA (Angolan Public Television) time is almost gone.
’Cause everybody’s got at home, the Multichoice.
Channel O, MTV, KTV, CBC, SIC, Globo, RTPI.
Yes, globalization is strong,
we see other cultures
and forget about ours.
See, I don’t speak just for speak’s sake.
Roulottes in Luanda is kind of cafés in Lisbon.
Just look, pay attention:
to the price of fuel, to the price of bread.
Everything’s going up, only the salary not.
Bwé (lots) of makas (disputes),
Bwé of estrilhos (problems),
Bwé de kilingas mayuya (crazy stuff).

But even so, my Luanda kuia (thrills).
But still, my Luanda kuia.
But even so, my Luanda kuia.
But still, my Luanda kuia.

Welcome to Luanda, the city that happens,
where everybody’s paused, all are cool,
Where there’s bwé of problems, but nobody’s troubled.
Many go hungry, but are always designer dressed.
There’s no piecemeal, problems are in bulk.
It’s fashionable to form groups
and attack others with machettes.
There’s dicas (tips) for laugh, there’s dicas for cry.
And the Luandense even in mourning likes to show off.
This is Luanda, nobody respects nothing.
With talk they don’t understand each other,
only with fight.

I get malaiko with the city’s vibe,
on the club’s door, everybody’s a celebrity
Nobody can wait, everybody wants to be seen.
“Hey brother, I’m VIP”. How’s it, brother, forget about it!
That mambo (thing) is pestered by illusion.
Luanda is a jungle where everybody wants to be the lion.

12 comments

  • Great post about a great blog.

    I really liked the song’s lyrics. I’m a passionate user of my native language (Brazilian Portuguese) and very interested in the various regional and national colours of the Portuguese language. Another fascinating thing about the song is that it could be speaking about many places in Brazil too… and probably many other places in many other countries. It’s major and minor themes are universal.

    Precious!

    Congratulations.

  • The Rede Globo (“Beyond Citizen Kane”) broadcasts in Angola? I did not know that. The prefix “luso-,” of course, is a reference to Portuguese, as your commenter notes. We gringo readers might not have known that.

  • Kitanda (quitanda) is an African word? It entered into PT-Br as a term for a fruit and vegetable stand.

    Wow, so it is:

    quimb. kitanda ‘feira’

  • Hello!

    Thanks a lot for your comments and contributions.

    Daniel, you are absolutely right about the diversity the Portuguese language acquires in the different places in the world it is spoken and enriched with local colours and flavours. And I guess we are all fascinated by the special rhythm and melody the Brazilians added to it…

    That’s certainly one of the reasons, Colin, “Globo” and its telenovelas have such a grip on the Angolan and other lusophone African countries’ broadcasting space.
    And yes, Kitanda is an African word, more precisely Angolan, from Kimbundu and has generally the meaning ascribed to it in your comment. It was most certainly introduced by African slaves taken from Angola to Brazil.

  • Hello Koluki, hello Colin! I’m glad that my comment sparked this interesting conversation.

    First of all, as far as i know, Globo broadcasts in a way or another in all portuguese speaking countries of the world and sells dubbed versions of it’s “telenovelas”(soap-operas) to a large part of the world. I’ve heard that even in non-lusophone Asian countries people love those soap-operas. That can be good as far as those soap-operas can be seen as “dramatic art” — thus can be seen as an artistic exchange — but in the other hand they have a strong political and ideological propaganda enbedded in them. I’m not sure if they’re worth as a “cultural product” more than as a “political/capitalist propaganda”. I don’t watch brazilian television since i was young because it mimics north-american values a lot. “Beyond Citizen Kane” can tell us a lot about it.

    Now, about the “luso-” prefix: i’ve heard it comes from the Lusitanic people, a pre-celtic (or celtiberic, it depends on author) people that inhabited Iberia before the Romans. They resisted roman incursions for years, led by their king Viriato, and left a strong mark in northern portugal and spanish “Estremadura”‘s culture. They language, Lusitanic, is a strong part of the linguistic roots of the iberian portuguese language (and the galizian tongue). Later, the “luso-” prefix came to be used to refer to the portuguese language in general, and to the portuguese people from Iberia (but, as far as i know, not to the Galizians).

    In brazilian portuguese, Quitanda (as our language lacked the “K” for almost a century) is a fruit/vegetable stand or a grocery store. After some research i’ve found some confirmation about the Bantu/Angolan origin of the word.

    I would like to thank our sweet Koliki’s compliments to the brazilian portuguese. I extend my compliments to the angola portuguese too. In fact, Portuguese is a GREAT language wherever it is spoken (with no discredit to all other languages).

    Language, Culture and the Human Being as we know it are born at the same time. Loving the human being and upholding the value of the multicultural human heritage is singing hosanas to the language too. That’s part of what fascinates me in GV. It’s not only about information and news exchange. It’s a meeting of peoples, cultures, places and languages.

    May the Gods bless us all!

  • Hi Daniel!

    That’s indeed the beauty of global conversation: we get to share our knowledge and learn a lot more about each other as human beings in this so diverse universe…
    I have expressed my views before on each of the three main issues you touch upon, so I leave you these links, which will also get us into the conversations taking place in other spaces on these issues:

    – On Globo and Brazilian “novelas”, here: http://www.angonoticias.com/full_headlines.php?id=8200http://koluki.blogspot.com/2007/02/dtours-de-mondes.html

    – On whether we should write “Quitanda” or “Kitanda”, here:
    http://koluki.blogspot.com/2007/05/unificacao-da-escrita-da-lingua.html

    Let’s keep talking, let’s keep listening!

  • Hey Koluki, i’m gonna visit the 3 posts you told us about right now. Thanks for the links.

    And, yes, that’s the beauty about the global conversation. We are 6 billion unbelievably rich worlds sharing the same world. We have to learn how to talk. We, here, are doing our part. That’s precious!

  • P.S.: My comments (2) on ‘Angonoticias’ appear under “Kalu Pura” (Kalu, by the way, is a diminutive for Kaluanda – a native from Luanda).

  • About the “novelas” post. It’s sad that so many brazilians think we “own” the portuguese language. It’s even shocking to see some of the harsh comments left there from some fellow brazilians. But, that’s the world of free speech. Each one speaks his mind with the mind he or she has to speak. Some minds are more prejudiced and less reasonable than others, sadly.

    Anyway, i’ve left a comment with my opinion there. I hope i was able to express my point.

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