In a month in which the world will celebrate International Albinism Awareness Day (June 13), the Secretary of State for Mass Media, Celso Malavoloneke, aged 50, opened the door of his office to tell his life story and the story of his 'community'.
Does the name 'Marthy' still mean anything to you?
Oh, it means a lot. Marthy Itula is the name I used when I was a student in Tchivinguiro. But before that, let me tell you, 'I suspect you've done some research on me.' I used to write poetry and music. I still write music today. I'm a lyricist and a composer, mostly of classical, Gregorian music, because I owe my musical education to the Catholic Church.
Only people who used to be part of a very small group of the Young Literature Brigade in Tchivinguiro call me that. I have seven children. The first three are girls. When I had my fourth child, my first boy, I decided to name him Marthy Itula.
Is Marthy Itula also a tribute to your mother?
It has a very special and emotional feeling. My mother's name was Marta Chitula. I have always had great admiration for her. Back then, in Tchivinguiro, she was still alive. I realize it was a wonderful tribute to my mother, and I'm happy I've done that, because she's no longer among us. And I wanted to extend this tribute by giving this name to my first son, who is now a grown man and is finishing his university studies in South Africa.
How did your family see the birth of an albino baby - yourself - in Bunjei, which is a border area between Huila and Namibe?
My family comes from Bunjei, but my father was an itinerant teacher back then. When I was born, he was posted in Kuvango. So I was born in a village called Katala, on the bank of the Cubango River.
My parents told me that my birth has a somewhat bizarre story involving the then Governor of Sá da Bandeira District, Mr. Celso Vilanova, and the MP Fernando Faustino Muteka, who is a cousin of my late father.
Back then, my uncle Fernando Faustino Muteka was a quartermaster and he used to go with my father and the District Governor to Kuvango, to Katala, to go hunting. They came on a Holy Saturday and went hunting with my father. In the meantime, I was born.
What happened then?
When they came back, Governor Celso Vilanova offered to be my godfather. That's why my name is Celso (because I'm his godson) Domingos (because I was born on Easter Sunday) José Malavoloneke (which is the double nickname we all use).
What does Malavoloneke mean?
It means 'Son of the Times', literally 'Son of Days', which is one of the names of the kingly lineage of the Huambo Plateau, Bié. It's the lineage that provides kingly counselors. So the Malãvolonekes (with a nasal 'a', as it is still pronounced in Huambo, Bié and Northern Huíla) are the lineage of those who read the signs of the times to advise the reigning sovereign.
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