Rosie Alves is a young Angolan blogger and “cronista” living in Luanda. The crónica is a Portuguese writing form that is very suited to blogging – originally published in newspapers, they are tales, sometimes true and sometimes fictionalized, that convey a point or a conceit in a very short form.
In her blog “Sweet Cliché“, Alves writes short tales, often about love and intimate encounters. (Blogspot warns readers of the adult nature of her blog). Here's an excerpt from her most popular recent post “Matei o meu amor” – “I killed my love”:
Foi naquela noite fria e chuvosa, na entrada de casa. Com apenas um golpe no coração, cruel e sem dó, matei o meu amor. Matei aquele que me causava prazer e dor. Senti ele a morrer. Ele sangrava, aquele pedaço vermelho perdia a cor na medida que o sangue escorria…
Foi frio, cauteloso, vi ele decair-se lentamente e, um mar de sangue se formava. Tudo parecia girar. Pensei nos bons momentos que passamos juntos, nos grandes prazeres que ele me proporcionou, e não tardou, veio a imagem do dia em que ele me traiu, a rodar na minha cabeça. A senhora que passava às pressas com um saco plástico na cabeça para se abrigar da chuva, não pareceu se importar com o que vira.
It was on the cold and rainy night, at the entrance to the house. With just one blow to the heart, cruel and pitiless, I killed my love, cause of my pleasure and my hurt. I felt my love die – bleeding, that red lump lost color as the blood flowed…
It was cold, careful, I saw my love fall slowly, a sea of blood formed. Everything seemed to spin. I thought of the good moments we had together, the great pleasure my love brought me, but soon the image of the day my love betrayed me, went around in my head. The woman who was hurrying past with a plastic bag on her head to shelter from the rain did not seem bothered by what she saw.
Just 21 years old, Alves occupies a unique place in what she says is a growing Angolan blogosphere – however she is more popular outside of her country than within it. We interviewed Alves recently – over a very unreliable 3G connection – to learn more.
GV: How would you describe the genre that you write?
I like to write narrative crónicas - that are sometimes made up only of dialogue. They come very close to short stories. They are more committed to daily events, that is, banal, common events. I also don't forgo a humorous crónica or philosophical, reflexive one. I like to mix things up and explore new territory.
GV: When did you start blogging? Why do you write?
I decided to blog in 2010. Writing calms me. Every time I write, I feel that I am taking a load off of my shoulders. And my tongue (lol). For me, it is the best therapy.
GV: You write quite a bit about love, intimacy, and sex. How are these topics dealt with by Angolan society? Are they taboo? Is there erotic literature in Angola?
Angolan society is quite conservative in what relates to these themes. (This explains why, after Spain, Angola is the country that least visits my blog.) There are many taboos in Angola. In the old days, we could say that it was a question of conservatism. Now with all of the transformations ongoing in our society, I see no reason for taboos. I don't know of any erotic literature in Angola (at least published and distributed). The closest to this that I've read was the work of the poet Paula Tavares ‘Ritos de Passagem’ (Rites of Passage). I am used to hearing people say that Angolan society is not prepared for this kind of topic. That's true, it is not. And at the rate things are going, it will never be…
GV: Can you tell us what it is like to be a young woman in Luanda?
It hasn't been easy, here there is much discrimination and disrespect for women. Principally emancipated women. We are stereotyped in many ways.
GV: Tell us a memory from your childhood.
At four years old, I really wanted to read a storybook that my dad gave me, so he took me to a tutor who helped me read and write before I went to primary school. I would go there every day, with my backpack on my back. Even up until now, they were the most beautiful moments I've lived.
GV: How would you describe your generation in Angola?
My generation is living through great changes. It is a very able generation, full of dreamers and people with a lot of potential. Too bad few really know their own [potential]. On the other hand, we're very competitive, we cannot see those around us and come together for the same cause. Few know the meaning of the words union and solidarity. We have more access to information, and even so we act as though we live in the stone age.
In Angola, there's the phrase “a young person who does not party is not a young person.” Youth today only wants to party. Without generalizing, because of course there are exceptions.
GV: Do you fit into a larger blogging scene in Angola?
I think so. I have online peers, the Angolan blogosphere grows by the day. A Facebook group “Blogueiros Angolanos” (“Angolan Bloggers”) has been created, we use it to encourage each other and to get our work out there. It is where we converse, trade ideas, and experiences. And not just there, I have peers in other countries around the world.
GV: Tell us about your writing process. What are your greatest challenges?
Generally, I pick up my mobile and I begin to write and in less than two hours, I finish. Sometimes I spend two weeks developing a text, and it even really frustrates me. One of my great challenges, if not the only, is to make the reader find himself/herself in what I write, and I can say that I have achieved that based on the feedback I receive.
GV: Who are your readers, do you know? How do people react to what you write?
I can say that many people read it. With that I mean: all ages groups, in the most diverse group of countries. It is strange, but according to the statistics, the country that most visits my blog is the US. There are those who have told me they read via Google Translator. The majority congratulates me, gives me suggestions, and encourages me to carry on. Obviously there are always those who do not like it or take it the wrong way, I've even been challenged by someone telling me that I should take care with what I write.
GV: What are your aspirations for the future?
I am a person full of dreams, and if I start to recount all of my aspirations here, I will not even finish today. But one of them, and really special, is to become a cronista in a newspaper or a magazine. It would be fantastic.