Sunday, 2 February 2014

São Tomé e Principe – A time to play

                                                  Maria Margarida Manuela (1925-2007)

Brian Mendonça

Dear Senõr Osualdo Deus Lima
(Coach, Football team, São Tomé e Principe, Lusofonia Game 2014)

Thank you for coming to India. Thank you for coming to Goa. I watched your team play against Macao at Tilak Maidan, Vasco. Truly the match belonged to your boys. You only needed a draw to qualify for the next round. Yes, Macao drew blood first just before half time in the 45th minute but STP (São Tomé e Principe) came back into the game in the 56th minute through a header by skipper Vando Neto. You just needed to hold the game and force a draw. But the plucky greens from Macao were all over you, bothering the goal like a hornet’s nest.

And then in the dying moments of the game Rodney Pinto Tagus brought down a player from Macao in your penalty area.  Like the river Tagus in Portugal, Rodney would change the tide of History. The goal which ensued through the penalty kick put you out of the reckoning for the gold. Frankly I didn’t know you were down to 9 men, as against their 11.

At Miramar, your women’s team won the beach volleyball against Goa India with consummate ease. Grooving to the music, the STP duo were enjoying every moment of their outing. The women’s team carried the flag onward at the Lusofonia Games, Goa 2014.

But struggle has been no stranger to you and your brothers and sisters in Africa’s tiniest island nation. In 1974 you threw of the yoke of the Portuguese colonizers and emerged into the light of your own beauty. A beauty which was bought at a price – so vividly put into words by Maria Manuela Margarido -- one of your foremost women poets in her poem ‘Landscape’.  The imagery is so evocative of the emblems of Goa, replete with the insinuation of resistance to violence.


by Maria Manuela Margarido
Translated from the Portuguese by Julia Kirst

Nightfall ... grass on the back
of the gleaming black man
on his way to the yard.
Grey parrots
explode in the palm trees’ comb
and cross each other in my childhood dream,
in the blue porcelain of oysters.
High dream, high
like the coconut tree along the ocean
with its golden and firm fruits
like obstructed stones
oscillating in a tornado’s womb
ploughing the sky with its mad
In the sky the severe anguish
of revolt passes by
with its claws its anxieties its uncertainties.
And an image of rustic lines
takes over the time and the word.
Along with contemporary poet Alda do Espirito Santo who was imprisoned and tortured for protesting the massacre of 1953 it is these women’s voices which appear so emphatically in your literature of São Tomé.
If one were to recall the book of Ecclesiastes Senõr Lima, ‘To every thing there is a season / And a time for every purpose under the heaven.’ Earlier it was a time to make war, now it is a time to play games.
Yours affectionately
(West stand)
Published in Weekender, Gomantak Times, St, Inez, Goa, Sunday 2 February 2014; Pix courtesy: http://agendaculturalpiracicabana.blogspot(dot)in/2009/11/dia-da-consciencia-negra-mario-de.html

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