Portugal’s prime minister on Friday quoted Mozambican writer Paulina Chiziane, who said that Camões was “an individual for whom the world was his home”, to highlight the world-wide nature of the Portuguese language.
António Costa was speaking moments before the award of the Camões Prize 2021 to Paulina Chiziane in the former Royal Riding Arena, in Belém, Lisbon, in the presence of the speaker of the Portuguese parliament, Augusto Santos Silva, and the ministers of foreign affairs, João Gomes Cravinho, and culture, Pedro Adão e Silva.
In his first words, the leader of the executive began by noting that the awarding of this prize occurs for the first time on World Day of the Portuguese Language.
“From Camões, we retain the example as the creator of a new Portuguese language and its universal nature. Instead of a static vision of language, Camões reveals the possibility of expanding the limits of that language. What makes the Portuguese language universal is the multiplicity of forms of use and expression of all those who speak, write or sing it,” said the prime minister.
António Costa then recalled that Paulina Chiziane belongs to the generation of Mozambican writers that emerged after independence.
“We remember that 50 years ago in neither of our two countries, Portugal or Mozambique, was it possible to speak or write in freedom. Portugal lived under a dictatorship and Mozambique and the other Portuguese-speaking African countries lived under the yoke of colonialism – two twin oppressions that mobilised a common anti-fascist and anti-colonialist struggle”, he pointed out.
This combat, according to António Costa, “triumphed in the joint liberation from dictatorship and colonialism”.
“It was in this shared freedom that we found each other again, that we reencountered each other and that we continue. Paulina Chiziane is part of that generation that saw literature as a place of personal and collective emancipation and whose literary creation corresponds to a profound need to interpret and represent the culture of its people. A pioneer in many ways, she was the first woman to publish a novel in Mozambique and is now the first Mozambican woman to be awarded the Camões Prize. I congratulate the jury for this fair choice”, he added.
In his speech, António Costa argued that the World Day of the Portuguese Language “should be truly felt as a celebration and appreciation of the community of countries and people who speak it, which, before being a political reality, was already an affective reality”.
“A language that is not restricted to the formalities and decisions of governments. But a language that the people who speak it use to communicate. And even if they speak it with multiple variants or different accents, they understand each other. Portuguese is, today, the language of several homelands, a language that navigates and recreates itself in every port, allowing us to get to know each other better in the diversity of our multiple national identities, but also to feel less like foreigners in each other’s homes”.
For António Costa, in short, this is “a happy occasion to award Paulina Chiziane the Camões Prize, itself a major symbol of a great linguistic community”.
In relation to Paulina Chiziane’s work, the leader of the Portuguese executive highlighted the books that “portray very particular experiences and realities of Mozambican society”.
“Through them we learn about the cultural differences between the North and the South, the traumas of the civil war, the ancestral traditions, the dilemmas of the Mozambican people, their ways, their aspirations. Like all great literature, they allow their readers to access worlds that are distant to them, but which, at the same time, have a universal dimension,” António Costa said.