Date: 14 Abril, 2021
On April 14th, Rogério Santos launched, his latest book titled A rádio colonial em Angola: festas e rifas para comprar o emissor [Colonial Broadcasting in Angola: Festivities and raffles to buy a transmitor], published by the Universidade Católica Press, in the series ECC Estudos de Comunicação e Cultura. Peter Hanenberg, the university vice-rector, chaired a session organized on the Zoom platform. It gathered scholars with expertise in broadcasting in the Portuguese dictatorship and colonial regime, namely Nelson Ribeiro (CECC, UCP) and Marissa Moorman (Indiana University of Bloomington). Other key guest speakers also took part in the book launch, offering an additional non-academic layer of understanding of the historical processes and events addressed in the book. The key guest speakers included: Adolfo Maria, former radio announcer and producer of the MPLA radio programme Angola Combatente; and Ariana Cosme, a university lecturer and daughter of the late Leonel Cosme, a radio announcer in colonial Angola and the director of the Imbondeiro Publisher in Lubango, Angola.
The book launch kicked off with the initial words of Nelson Ribeiro, Dean of the Faculty of Human Sciences at the Universidade Católica Portuguesa, and the principal investigator (PI) of the project BiPE. Ribeiro, who also authored the book's preface, started by highlighting Rogério Santos’s active contribution to research and knowledge in radio history both within the scope of the BiPE project and beyond it. According to Ribeiro A rádio colonial em Angola: festas e rifas para comprar o emissor, it provides an original and in-depth account of the meanings and experiences of colonial and anti-colonial broadcasting during the Portuguese late colonial period and its repercussions in the construction of colonial and postcolonial identities. As Ribeiro mentioned, Santos relied on original sources to demonstrate the entanglements in radio histories at the end of the Portuguese colonial rule, namely across Angola, São Tomé and Príncipe, Mozambique and the former metropole. BiPE’s PI emphasized that the book successfully addresses the articulations of broadcasting with other social and cultural activities and practices of colonial Angola. These articulations demonstrate the transmedial and broader cultural connections in which radio production and reception occurred. Such an approach, as Ribeiro argued, requires an outstanding ability to articulate evidence contained in documents held in archives deposited across different borders and in oral sources. But Santos accomplishes quite skilfully such articulations in his book. Ribeiro also highlighted Rogério Santos’ notion of “the Market of Saudade” to refer to the transmission and reception of nostalgic and emotional contents, allowing to better understand colonial broadcasting in Angola. As Ribeiro argued, it is at the heart of this concept that one can understand the settlers’ colonial identities. The book reveals thus how broadcasting reproduced colonial inequalities, despite supporting the liberation movement in Angola towards the end of Portuguese colonialism. Furthermore, BiPE’s PI stressed the importance of examining Santos’ new periodization of colonial broadcasting in Angola. In his perspective, both the notion of the market of Saudade and the proposed periodization of broadcasting in Angola offer original lines of thought and new research directions from where scholars interested in this field can depart.
For Marissa Moorman, Professor at the Indiana University of Bloomington and author of two notable books on the history radio and music in Angola - Intonations. A Social History of Music in Luanda, Angola, from 1945 to Recent Times (2008), and Power Frequencies: Radio, State Power, and Cold War in Angola, 1931-2002 (2019) - Rogério Santos’ new book is of high importance in the scholarly landscape of radio history and Angolan history. The book addresses both academics and non-academics readers successfully, without losing track of the relevant conceptual discussions. She also highlighted the importance of the new periodization of Angolan radio history, which Rogério Santos puts forward, and argues it remains one the most significant original contributions of the book to the field of studies. The periodization is more detailed and better structured than the ones previously outlined by other authors, allowing for new future research directions and projects to be designed, she said. Like Ribeiro, Moorman underlined the notion of “Market of Saudade”, adding that while it translates the logic of imperial broadcasting, it also crystallizes the role of radio consumption and its entanglement with the settlers’ commercial engagement and development in Angolan colonial history. The historian also noted that Santos comes close to Rebecca Scales’ work (Rochester Institute of Technology) insofar as he addresses the multiple radio histories and narratives embedded in the biographies of radio professionals and key figures in Angolan broadcasting history. These include Leonel Cosme, Sebastião Coelho, Artur Arriscado and Adolfo Maria, the latter participating in the book launch. According to Moorman, such an approach unlocks new research perspectives concerning how a new white Angolanness follows up the colonial “Market of Saudade” colonial identities. Moorman argues that this subject has not been on the academic agenda, except for Marcelo Bittencourt’s, Victor Andrade de Melo’s and Fernando Pimenta’s work.
Additionally, Moorman stated that Santos’s book brings forward another original and crucial point: the intimate relationship between white Angolan radio practices and Angolan literature. This intersection is achieved through rich sources, from oral to textual, all of difficult access, but made accessible through the book. Had it been published before; Marissa Moorman and other scholars would have benefited tremendously from such an account.