Three Woman Poets from Mozambique

  • Luís Rafael Universidade Lusófona de Humanidades e Tecnologias


GLÓRIA de SANT’ANNA (1925 - 2009)

Widely regarded by some as representing one of the highest achievements in Mozambican lyricism, Glória de Sant’Anna’s work is ignored—delenda gloria—by many others. Six of her poetry collections were published in Mozambique. The silence which surrounds this poet seems to reflect more on the ideological and racial preconceptions of the Mozambican canon-makers (many of whom are not Mozambican) than on considerations of her unique achievement, which is not generally denied. The Portuguese likewise tend to treat her work with a similar silence, a refusal to engage in, rather a dismissal of, her work; the suggestion is that she cannot be placed within that tradition either. The poet is however held in high esteem by the Mozambican poets themselves and the lineage initiated by Glória de Sant’Anna is today one of the dominant traditions in Mozambican lyricism. A school teacher for most of her life, she worked in Porto Amélia (now called Pemba) and Vila Pery (now Chimoio). Glória de Sant’Anna, retired for many years now, lived in Óvar, Portugal.

NOÉMIA de SOUSA (1926 - 2002)

Rightly considered one of Africa’s greatest women poets, Noémia de Sousa published her first poems in 1948, when she was 22. Her almost total poetic output was written in the following three years, and she did not write again until 1988, when she composed a poem on the death of Samora Machel. In 1951 she went on holiday to Lisbon and stayed. Later she moved to Paris. She returned to Portugal after the 1974 Revolution. She did not—as it has been claimed—stop writing because she married a Portuguese man. (The poet was married to a Mozambican who, like her, happened to have been a Portuguese national because he had been born in a Portuguese colony.) According to Noémia de Sousa she never really stopped writing; she was a journalist and the writing she produced after she moved to Europe was of a different nature. Her powerful poetic work, which influenced a whole generation of writers and poets, remained uncollected for almost fifty years: Sangue Negro came out in 2001. She died in Lisbon.


One of those poets that canon-makers find easier to ignore than to categorize, Ana Mafalda Leite cannot be placed too firmly within either the Mozambican or Portuguese poetic traditions. It is probably more advisable to see her as belonging to both traditions, enriching both with her highly original gift. She did her schooling in Lourenço Marques (Maputo) and completed her university training in Lisbon. A teacher of Lusophone African literature—she is a professor at the University of Lisbon—her work attests also to a self-reflexive poetic reworking of that tradition.


Como citar
RAFAEL, Luís. Three Woman Poets from Mozambique. Babilónia - Revista Lusófona de Línguas, Culturas e Tradução, [S.l.], n. 8/9, may 2011. ISSN 1646-3730. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 22 mar. 2019.