«Agostinho Neto» Award

Cristina Sá Valentim wins the «Agostinho Neto» International Historical Research Prize

October 2020

Cristina Sá Valentim has just won the 3rd edition of the «Agostinho Neto» International Historical Research Prize - 2019-2020 Edition, with the work «Sons do Império, Vozes do cipale. Canções Cokwe, Poder e Trabalho durante o colonialismo tardio na Lunda, Angola» [Sounds of the Empire, Voices of cypale. Cokwe Songs, Power and Work during the late colonialism in Lunda, Angola]. The distinction of the work includes its publication in Angola and Brazil, the award of a diploma and a trophy, as well as the amount of 50 thousand dollars.

In the work now distinguished, the author sought to expose the complexities of colonial relations of domination and resistance based on practices that had African music and forced labour in northeastern Angola as their common denominator. This is the doctoral thesis supervised by Catarina Isabel Martins (CES/FLUC) and Ricardo Roque (ICS-ULisboa), developed under the doctoral programme "Post-Colonialisms and Global Citizenship", taught at the Centre for Social Studies (CES) and the Faculty of Economics of the University of Coimbra.

In the minutes of the announcement of the winner of the prize, it can be read that the work elected is characterized as «a very important, multidisciplinary, innovative work, which uses diverse sources and crosses written sources with oral sources and musical sources and, in this respect, is not only innovative but practically unique, dealing with a very significant group in the history of Angola, the Cokwe, a population marked by adherence to novelty, dynamism and creative capacity and change».

The object of the study were the songs collected by the «Mission of Recollection of Musical Folklore» (1950-1960) of the former Diamond Company of Angola (Diamang), with particular emphasis on the evocative songs of the Cypale (African local designation for forced or contracted labour) recorded during the 1950s among the Cokwe people. These songs, performed by Africans, including contract workers, were integrated into the repertoires of the so-called "Indigenous Folk Groups" organised by the Dundo Museum. In the form of records and reels in collections of "Folclore Musical de Angola", these African songs were disseminated nationally and internationally between Africa, Europe and America through exhibitions, concerts, conferences, musicological studies, radio programmes and press and television news. The author suggests that part of these recorded songs, and the process of folklorisation to which they were subjected, served both purposes of colonial domination and responded to various interests of African communities. These songs not only served as complex tools of domination useful to the Portuguese colonial project, but were also instruments of autonomous cultural expression and even of criticism of colonial power for Africans.

In the elaboration of this work, Cristina Sá Valentim resorted to an interdisciplinary methodology combining an anthropological interpretation guided by ethnographic research with written, visual and sound archival sources, and with oral testimonies from Angolan and Portuguese actors.

Promoted every two years by the António Agostinho Neto Foundation (FAAN) and the Afro-Brazilian Institute of Higher Education (IABES), represented by the Zumbi dos Palmares Faculty (FZP), the prize is intended to highlight research works - written by Angolan researchers, Brazilians or other nationalities - on Agostinho Neto, Angola, Africa, Brazil, the Diaspora and Afro-descendants who contribute to a better knowledge of the history of Angola, Brazil and Africa.

In this year's edition of the Prize, the jury was composed by Isabel de Castro Henriques (Associate Professor with Aggregation of the Faculty of Letters of the University of Lisbon. Retired), Vanicléia Silva Santos (Associate Professor of Pre-colonial African History at the Federal University of Minas Gerais - UFMG, Member of UNESCO's Scientific Committee for the IX volume of the General History of Africa and Publisher of the III Volume), Maria da Conceição Neto - (Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the Agostinho Neto University), Maria Alexandra Miranda Aparício (General Director of the National Archives of Angola), Roquinaldo Amaral Ferreira (Henry Charles Lea Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia), Thomas Patrick Wilkinson (Integrated Researcher at CITCEM, University of Porto), Ivair Augusto Alves dos Santos (Professor at the University of Brasilia), José Vicente (President of the Afro-Brazilian Institute for Higher Education) and Irene Alexandra da Silva Neto (PCA, FAAN).

The «Agostinho Neto» International Historical Research Prize was constituted in 2014 by FAAN, in partnership with IABES, which was joined by UNESCO in 2016.