Leonel Cosme

His full name was Armando Leonel Augusto Matos Cosme (1934-2021), and he was one of the most important figures of Angolan radio in colonial times.

Born in Guimarães, he went with his mother and brothers to Angola in 1950, when his father sent for them. They settled in the city of Sá da Bandeira (now Lubango), until 1975. With a degree in commerce and attending Letters, he did his compulsory military service in 1955-1957. Before that, he worked as an administrative officer in the Agriculture Services, which brought him into contact with farmers, such as Henrique, the main character of his trilogy of novels A Revolta. He returned to the job after military service. He had already made literary contributions to Rádio Clube da Huíla and the Jornal da Huila newspaper, when he was invited to work in radio by César da Silveira, where he participated in the production of cultural programmes and radio drama, of which he was the author and which were acted out by people of the station. Leonel Cosme was accountant, head of the secretariat (administrative service) and executive director of Rádio Clube da Huíla. He remained with the radio until 1974. He had already begun working for the department of information and culture of the City Council in 1973, and that employment became definitive after he left the radio station.

Leonel Cosme supported Humberto Delgado's candidacy for Portuguese president, having spoken at the rally on 4 June 1958 at the Odéon Cineteatro (Sá da Bandeira), with a speech on the theme of "A University for Angola". He was accused of producing a typed pamphlet, which circulated in the city's secondary school, "Mocitários de Portugal", addressed to young people, some of them on a trip promoted by Mocidade Portuguesa (PIDE/DGS, SC, CI (2), 4134, NT7323, ANTT). The political police believed that Cosme had shown the same separatist feelings, due to statements made at the 1st Angolan Writers' Meeting, in Sá da Bandeira (January 1963). Leonel Cosme was one of the citizens fighting for the establishment of the university in Sá da Bandeira, which was set up shortly afterwards.

He collaborated heavily with the press, O Lobito and Jornal da Huíla and he was editor-in-chief in Sá da Bandeira of the daily newspaper A Província de Angola. He stood out in the city's culture, through cinema, as a founding member of the Cinema Club of Huíla, and in literature, with the publishing house Imbondeiro and the Cultural Society of Angola When, after April 1974, the owner of Rádio Comercial de Angola, Eurico Mota Veiga, called Sebastião Coelho to technically manage the radio, Leonel Cosme took over the direction of the branch in Sá da Bandeira.

The radio broadcaster - author returned to Portugal in 1975, going to work for the public radio station. He returned to Angola (1982-1987) as a member of the cooperative applied to administrative training and committed to the MPLA. Then, he moved permanently to Portugal and worked as a journalist in the press and on the radio. From 1990 onwards, he dedicated himself exclusively to writing. He published the novels Um Homem na Rua (1958) and A Dúvida (1961), the short stories Quando a Tormenta Passar (1959) and Graciano (1960) and the book of poetry Ecce Homo (1973). Of note in his work is the trilogy A Revolta (1963-1992), reflecting the privileged place of an observer in the history of Angola, moving from revolt to the final moment, passing through the land of promise to the end of colonialism, in a social and pedagogical perspective. His many published works included Agostinho Neto e o seu Tempo (2004) and Muitas São as Áfricas (2006). Leonel Cosme was also the author of the catalogue of the first Angolan bibliography exhibition (Sá da Bandeira, 1962), with 700 titles covering the areas of history and sociology, ethnography and anthropology, literature and fiction, travels and narratives and several studies.

Imbondeiro, a publishing house initially created by Garibaldino de Andrade, Leonel Cosme, Maurício Soares and Carlos Sanches (the latter two would leave soon after), lasted four years (1960-1963), enough time to launch 68 notebooks with texts by Portuguese-speaking storytellers and poets and to publish anthologies of new Angolan literature: Contos d’África (1961), aggregating authors of Angolan culture with natives of Angola and Portugal, Novos Contos d’África (1962), including Alfredo Margarido, Pepetela and José Luandino Vieira, and Antologia Poética Angolana (1963), covering Agostinho Neto, Alda Lara and António Jacinto, among others. A new anthology would be dedicated to great 20th century poets, such as Bertolt Brecht, Fernando Pessoa, Guillaume Apollinaire, Pablo Neruda, Rafael Alberti, Thomas Stearns Eliot and Vladimir Maiakovski. At the start of 1964, a booklet by Luandino Vieira, a prisoner transferred to the Tarrafal concentration camp, had not been fully distributed. José Luandino Vieira had been imprisoned in Luanda when, at the end of 1962, Imbondeiro published his short story Os Miúdos do Capitão Bento Abano, a subject that was again taken up in the novel Nosso Musseque (2003). He died in 2021.

Original text with images, at https://radio.hypotheses.org/4004

Author: Rogério Santos, 2021.

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