Pepetela can be rightly placed in the category of the modern thinkers of the world. For one to get a grasp of his theory, one must go through a series of his works which reveals his ideals and thoughts about the contemporary society and with a bias to the Angolan nation. Indeed, much of the works of Pepetela concentrate on the nationalism struggle, the reality of nation building, colonialism and its attendant consequences.
In his theory, Pepetela debunks the mythology on the Angolan society. He first casts aspersions onto the concept of nationhood as understood by most people. He observes that the common history of the Angolan ethnic groups in their quest for independence does not necessarily confer identity on the Angolan people. He observes that indeed nationalism was essential for the liberation of Angola and the consequential defeat of colonialism. However, he asserts that it does not create reconciliation. Pepetela suggests that the creation or recreation of the Angolan mythology is essential. In fact, he calls for the inspiration to be drawn from all sources.
Pepetela insists that ethnic, regional and cultural reconciliation is essential for the forward progress of any nation especially in the context of post colonialism. He explains that for the success of the independent nation, individual must reconcile with the group, and humanity with the natural environment. His concentration on the essence of reconciliation perhaps betrays his belief that the African harmony is in risk and that the lack of common identity in the fragile nations poses a danger to the stability.
His theory demonstrates the essence of the nation. He believes the state, a product of the nation controls innovation. It is an innovation that can address the needs of the people. He asserts that needs arise from the collective desire as propounded by Gilles Deleuze. Pepetela does not fail to mention the essential role that women need to play in the development of the new nation. Though in his works, women play only auxiliary roles in the struggle for independence, Pepetela suggests that the new nation and Angolan mythology ought to be all inclusive and feminine contribution has to be incorporated. He illustrates this in one of his works, Mayombe, in the character of Ondine. It should be appreciated that Pepetela sees positivism in terms of feminine contribution in the development of the nation.
Pepetela is quick to note the diversity of missions of the people struggling for liberation. In his observation, he asserts that people join the struggle in pursuit of personal missions. This he mentions, only helps in the short run, that is, it displaces the colonialists. However, he asks whose liberation is being fought. This question is answered in his later observation of post-colonial Angola. In post-colonial Angola, Pepetela appreciates the clash between tradition and modernity, noting in particular the contribution of Western norms. He warns Angolan nationalists of the lure of wealth and the consequences of government bureaucracy and police service.
Others have who have interacted with his theory call him a muralist. He is credited with his examination of the cultural Angola and his balanced presentation of the Angolan self-awareness and mythology. He presents a collected and refined image of a thinker committed to humanity. His clarion call for the Angolans to reconcile and build a nationhood despite their ethnic, regional and cultural differences betrays his commitment to humanity.
Arthur Pestana, otherwise known as Pepetela was born on 29th October 1941 to white Angolan parents in the city of Benguela during the colonial period. Pepetela participated substantively in the struggle for independence in Angola. He served as a minister in the Angolan first post-independence government. However, Pepetela is known more for his philosophy and theory drawn from his writing. He began the journey in writing during the independence struggle. His first publication was Mayombe in 1980 which describes Angola’s journey in the struggle for liberation from colonialists. He is appreciated for his ability to mesh personal and political elements in his works. Pepetela has been in the academic field. He started off as a professor of Sociology in the University of Angola and currently teaches Sociology at the College of Architecture of Luanda. Pepetela has received several literary awards including Brazil’s Order of Rio Branco, the Dutch Prince Claus Prize and Camoes Prize. Among the many pieces of literature he has published are Geracoa Utopia, Jaime Bunda, The Private Agent, The Return of the Water Spirit, The Mountain of Lilac Water and a Tale for All Ages.
The striking factor in his works is his belief in the effects of cultural practises and the nationalist ideology. He presents a unique expression of his generation, their dreams and quest for independence. A quick glimpse at the works of Pepetela reveals his determination, hope, desires and rare intelligence in the quest for a united Angola both during and after the struggle for independence. His observations and believes goes against the superficial and transcends ethnic and racial inclinations.
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