On August 29, 1924, the village of Calomboloca, in the municipality of Catete, about 100 km from Luanda, witnessed the birth of a brilliant mind. A politician and born writer. Man of the land. In the capital, he studied nursing, a profession he practised for many years and which enabled him to travel throughout the country. But from early on he was committed to the struggle for Angola's independence. At the side of António Agostinho Neto and of the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), he outlined ideas that would lead to the liberation of the people. Nevertheless, his political dedication led to him losing 12 years of the freedom he pursued so avidly, making of Tarrafal prison, on the Island of Santiago, in Cape Verde, a source of inspiration. During these years, imprisoned by PIDE [Portuguese secret police] and involved in the infamous ?Trial of Fifty?, Agostinho Mendes de Carvalho shaped his personality as a writer. He was no longer a name of solely political importance, revealing to the world Uanhenga Xitu, the penname he started to use for his literary works, which was actually his proper name in the Kimbundu language.
Recognised by his penname Uanhenga Xitu, Agostinho Mendes de Carvalho is one of the symbols of Angolan literature
Considered a writer of the Generation of Silence ? the generation of the 1970s marked by the use of words concealed in works with powerful themes of combat, denouncement, rebellion, and indignation ?, the novelist was known for his ability to highlight the conflicts experienced in Angolan society, through a language encased in humour, turning even the most tragic of situations into comic moments. Mestre Tamoda (published in 1974), one of the author's most famous works and written during his time in prison (1962-1970), is an example of this style particular to Uanhenga Xitu, who used the Portuguese language and Kimbundo so well. The writer spoke on many occasions about this book, explaining that the context in which it was written wasn't easy and that he would never be able to replicate it to the same quality as the original version, which was confiscated in prison. «The published work of Mestre Tamoda, as I have sometimes explained to readers, was written in prison, where the guards and other prison bodies were constantly searching and watching us. In addition to family correspondence and documents, I and other companions saw literary works of great value confiscated, which we would never get back, and to manage to reproduce them in their exact state would be difficult,» said Uanhenga Xitu. It is said that the writer found inspiration for the characters in his works from the people he knew throughout his life.