What is your race?
“Asked about his race, he replied:
“My race is me, João Passarinheiro.
Asked to explain himself, he added:
“My race is myself. The person is of an individual humanity. Every man is a race, Sir Police.”
Mia Couto (extract from Bird Seller’s statements)
He’s one of my writers. Mia Couto has several gifts, one of which is to say a lot in a few words. Every journalist’s dream, like me. Birds are present in much of their work and I think they are always a symbol of freedom. The freedom to think of the world without physical or intellectual ties.
The question I ask in the title of this Editorial, for me, is not unheard of. I’m not sure what my race is. I was born in Angola, the son of parents with origins, in the Portuguese Serra do Caramulo, but that of living Africa (first São Tomé and Príncipe and then Angola, in the case of my father) always marked us with the experience of smells, flavors and the typical mentality of a warmth that forever fixed the existence, of them, that of my sister and mine.
The “my lands” will remain Caramulo and Angola. One day – I don’t know if I could explain why – I would like to lose my teeth in African lands. After all it was there that I was born the first dentition and it was also there that I tested the first flavors, the first smells and the warmth that I still like so much today.
I don’t know what race I am. I only know that “every man is a race”. And I like that
My parents were what we commonly call “white.” My mother with a shade of pale skin, my dark father, there between the mulatto, the gypsy, or the Indian. When we returned to Caramulo they again treated him by the nickname (in the village everyone has a nickname). “Black Soul” was how he was known, and I don’t remember that ever bothering him. He lived all the years he had left of his life, with all the memories he had left of Africa. You weren’t always happy about it, but I think it was the way you found to stay alive.
He was of an individual humanity. A black soul – living in a country where he could take off, but who accepted him and who he also accepted – assuming the importance of returning to Portugal in the name of the values in which he believed, namely peace and freedom. There as here, always civil servant and concerned with public service.
I’ve been living in suitcase almost always done. From Serra do Caramulo to Águeda, from Águeda to Aveiro, from Aveiro to Porto, from Porto to Lisbon. The race of the men of the mountains and the men of these various cities is far from the same. I guess I owe it to the person I am today.
I lived, I could say, in various newsrooms, with journalists with more or less race, but always aware that the greater the diversity, the better the final product. I think it can/should be like this in all professions. The more heterogeneous the contributions, the better we do. Summoning the most and least raçudos usually gives better results… and this breed has nothing to do with skin color. I don’t know what race I’m from. And I like that.
*Platforma’s Exceptional Director
This article is available in: Português