Interviews with Writers from Angola and Mozambique
Edited By Ana Mafalda Leite, Sheila Khan, Jessica Falconi and Kamila Krakowska
Interview with Pepetela
← 110 | 111 → Interview with Pepetela
PEPETELA is the literary pseudonym of Artur Carlos Maurício Pestana dos Santos, born on 29 October 1941 in Benguela, Angola, to a family of Portuguese ancestry. He attended primary school in Benguela, where he had contact with children of different social and racial status. He continued his education at Liceu Diogo Cão in Lubango and later moved to Portugal for higher education. There he attended the Casa dos Estudantes do Império, the cradle of African nationalist movements in Lisbon. When the colonial war broke out, Pepetela was compulsorily conscripted to the Portuguese army to fight in Angola. Instead, he fled Portugal and moved abroad, first to Paris, and later to Algiers.
While studying sociology in Algiers in 1963, he was approached by the MPLA member Henrique Abranches, who enlisted him in the liberation movement and whom he helped to found the Centre for Angolan Studies. The Centre, with its seat first in Algiers and since 1969 in Brazzaville, Congo, played an important role in documenting Angolan culture and in spreading information about the MPLA’s struggle against colonial rule. Around the turn of the 1960s and 1970s, he participated actively in the armed resistance of Angola. This war experience inspired him to write one of his most acclaimed novels, Mayombe (published only some years after the independence, in 1980; translated as Mayombe, 1996). It was also during this time that he wrote Muana Puó (published in 1978) and gained the pseudonym Pepetela, which means pestana (eyelash)...
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